Category: Uncategorized

Worming with Kelp: Day 126 – WE FAILED


DAY 1: Sunday May 11

DAY15: Sunday May 25

DAY22: Sunday June 1

DAY29: Sunday June 8

DAY 43: Sunday June 22

DAY126: Sunday June 22 – ADMISSION of FAILURE

Cape Town:  Sunday 14th September

Nearly all the worms in both bins have died and the few remainng look sluggish and unwell. I have to admit that the experiment has been  an absolute failure and I have decisively disproved my own theory by clearly demonstrating that worms and kelp do not go well together.

  • I now believe that  raw kelp is not suited to be combined with worm farming. However, for those living near the coast, kelp will always remain a very useful, free and easily collected resource, that is of great nutritional value for your garden plants and is moreover an important provider of  trace elements for promoting rapid healthy plant growth. Just keep the composting processes  separate and then you can always combine the  mature kelp and worm products later, when ready for planting or mulching. 

Although disappointing, it has been an interesting experiment, but I would not advise anyone to repeat it – you will be wasting your time.



Wanted Red Wigglers in Durban (South Africa)

Can anyone please help Attie find Red Wigglers in the Durban Area – if so please add a comment to this post – Steve

How do I order red wigglers and how much, I stay in Durban and would like to start worm farming for the worm tee as well for fishing


Attie Bouwer

Can red worms in the soil hurt my plants?


I live in the Pacific NW – USA and am trying my hand at winter gardening (with the typical salads and winter veggies) in a small glass greenhouse with lights (ceiling) and 60 degrees heat. My plants are not thriving… in fact, they are dying.

When I planted the 6”-9” deep box, along with many tall gallon (or larger) pots, with new potting soil mixed ½ and ½ with new bagged compost, I placed a thin layer of not-quite-composted alpaca manure in the bottom of each container. This manure contained composting red worms.

Are they eating the roots of my young plants? I know earthworms will leave the plant roots alone, but red worms are SUPPOSED to eat all living material. Do you suppose this was my mistake?

Maybe the manure was still too hot? (although it no longer smelled, yet was sorta crumbly)


Linda Fox

Worms trying to escape

There is much debate as to why worms often try to escape from a new bin – even if it has been well prepared and  left to mature with food and beddng for a couple of weeks beforehand.

One theory is that the worms just cannot process their food without the help of specialised aerobic microbes. These beneficial bacteria live in symbiosis with the worms and after being ingested together with the worms’ food,  they multiply within the worms gut and then are excreted in their poop  and are thus spread out, back into the food source – multiplying several thousandfold in the process. Once the worms’  food source has been covered by these microbes it is now ready for the worms to ingest – and so the cycle repeats itself. Food without the microbes is useless, but once established the cycle repeats indefinitely as long as the worms keep on eating and pooping to spread out the bacteria.

In a new bin the specific bacteria are absent at first – until the worms start pooping.  The  initial worm food without bacteria would seem  sterile and inedible to the worms – and so many of them just hit out – probably looking for a better restaurant to meet their needs!  However, after a few days of pooping the cycle picks up momentum and balance is eventually achieved and everyone is happy.

This is why it is always useful to dump in a small amount of fresh worm tailings (vermicompost) when establishing a new worm farm to give the bacteria a kick start. But just as importantly,  make sure that the prepared bedding and food is not too wet and compact and is well aerated. Both the worms and their bacteria need a good supply of air to survive and prosper.  Follow the link to see more at

Worm Forum

I’m beginning to think that a Working Worms Forum  would be of more use than the current blog – which is a bit one sided – Is there any interest?



From: Adrian Glanvill 
Sent: 08 September 2009 01:21 PM
Subject: Where and How?
Importance: High


Could you please direct me to an Inexpensive source of Eisenia fetida (SP??).
I have contacted a number of work farm suppliers, but the prices they quote are prohibitive I feel.
I can dig worms out of my garden of course, but these are “deep burrowers” mostly, and though I do want to breed them as part of a Land restoration Project, I also need to produce vermicompost.
Adrian Glanvill


 The one source I had for cheaper worms is out of the market – all the rest seem to charge about the same – around R150 per thousand (about 250gm). I’ll put a post on our blog site – asking for assistance, maybe someone will contact you. See Don’t waste your time with earthworms – good for the garden / no good for worm farming..


Hi Adrian, 




From: Adrian Glanvill
Sent: 08 September 2009 03:17 PM
To: steve
Subject: Re: Where and How?


Thanks, I have in the interim found someone who charges R25.00 per hundred.  They are in the Cape, but this is not an insurmountable problem.
I actually need both.  Eisenia for worm farming, but also the other (Lumbricoid) types. These can be used to revive worked out soil.  Common sense tells me to harvest these from the local environment (if any can be found) since they are likely to be better adapted to vegetation and soil types.
I am seeking to help a self-development project that wants to improve food production for school feeding schemes.





—–Original Message—–
From: Adrian Glanvill
Sent: 12 September 2009 04:18 PM
To: steve
Subject: Re: Where and How?

Ah, now there is an immediate problem.
Tyres are not a good idea for the garden, they contain cadmium and some other toxic stuff that pollutes the soil.  At one stage tyres were used for growing potatoes in a stacking bed, but this is now discouraged because of the toxicity of the soil and hence the potatoes. 
No body in the world really knows what to do with tyres- they are not permitted in landfill sites anywhere, according to my son who is a consulting geologist – one of his services is advising on land reclamation and the rehab of open cast pits.  Using them for worm farms is thus out.  I know that it is done, but I will not recommend that it is done.

It would be better to use cardboard boxes coated with paraffin wax.  Ultimately they will compost and need to be replaced, but they are at least bio-degradable.  The wax itself is metabolised by bacteria (slowly) but is not a toxic pollutant.

One could also stack bricks, or make frames out of untreated wood (my favourite) and polypropylene/polyethylene shade cloth, or biddum.  What we will do is see what is available for recycling without pollution at each site, and adapt our practices to suit.


 Hi Adrian

Thanks for that valuable information  – I’d never heard that. I’ll post it on the blog and will need to update the website.



—–Original Message—–
From: Steve
Sent: 12 September 2009 01:12 AM
To: ‘Adrian Glanvill’
Subject: RE: Where and How?

Hi Adrian,


Regarding your self-development programme – have you thought of stacked tyre worm farms – see seen the article we wrote at and the section of working worms




I’m very excited about our new vermiculture dictionary  “WORM TERMS” at web address –  it calls itself  a hybrid of a vermi-dictionary, a glossary and a mini worm encyclopaedia. The plan is to make it a single point reference centre for vermiculture definitions and to expand it over time to encompass all those tricky vermiculture terms that you keep on stumbling across and were never quite sure of the exact meaning. If you want to help us why not send in your own definitions, additional facts or corrections posted as comments to this blog or email to

Welcome to Working Worms

Welcome to the Working Worms vermicomposting blog page. This blog is intended to supplement our web site, by keeping readers abreast of the latest developments in vermiculture, through the personal perspective of an enthusiastic worm farmer.

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