Worm Tragedy: Three reasons our vermiculture system failed

We had our first permaculture heart break. Our vermiculture system, which seemed to be doing so well, suffered a total collapse.

The failure occurred when we were going to add the third bucket to our three-bucket set up. Prior to this point we were dutifully feeding the worms ground up food scraps each week and watching with delight as they turned it into rich compost. The next step was going to be to add a separate bucket on top which would be full of scraps and have the worms migrate upwards. Each time the top bucket became fully digested, we would swap it out again, growing the quantity of compost and worms by ensuring there was always a strong, easily accessible food source.

We talk about some of the gruesome details in this video, but I will give a summary of our thoughts below as well.

We identified three places where we went wrong:

  1. We should have been checking in on them more frequently.
  2. The holes between the buckets may have been too small.
  3. The bedding may have been too dense to facilitate travel.

In the end, it boils down to neglect. I think we got too used to just checking in on them weekly that we didn’t consider that the change in habitat would mean they needed extra attention to ensure they were adapting. If we had been watching them more closely we could done something about points two and three, such as making those holes bigger, or manually sifting out the works and migrating them to the top bucket ourselves.

We would like to start another vermiculture system, but that will have to wait a few months. We have some very exciting life changes coming up, and we want to make sure we give that our full attention right now. We’ll be sure to share our new worm bin here once we decide what it’s going to look like!

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