Of Dead Worms and Failed Experiments

by mzumtaylor on August 20, 2012

in Gardening

Tragedy has struck the Finance Geek household: my worms are dead. :(

Things were great

My worm bin was doing really well for the first few weeks. The worms were happily wriggling about, doing their worm-y thing, (slowly) making beautiful dirt.

But then…

Then I fed them.

You wouldn’t think this would cause problems, and it normally wouldn’t, except that I actually overfed them. It turns out they had not sufficiently processed the food I had given them originally, and adding more overwhelmed the system.

Compounding the problem

Not only did I give them too much food, but I did during a time when we weren’t really running our AC during the day, which meant it was 80+ degrees in the house every day—too hot for worm bins. I didn’t know to make sure that the worms had enough moisture in their environment to cope with the heat (but no so much that they would drown), and so they fared poorly.

First sign of trouble

So, after (over)feeding them and letting them sit in a too-hot house, the worm bin started to smell.

Anyone who knows anything about worm bins (not me, clearly) will tell you that worm bins don’t smell if they’re “healthy,” so a smelly worm bin is a sign of worm distress.

Ignoring the signs

I just thought that it meant the worms hadn’t been able to process the food I’d given them quickly enough for it not to smell, so I decided to leave them alone, and let them do their thing a little while longer.

Tragedy struck

I thought I was right, because after a few days, the smell died away. I assumed the worms had processed the excess food, and all was going well in their little worm home.

I should have known better. I opened up the worm bin yesterday and was smacked in the face by the stench of ammonia. In case it’s not glaringly obvious, that’s not good.

What’s also not good is the fact that half of the contents of the worm bin were soggy and stuck together. Worms need a certain amount of moisture to function, but too much water also causes problems, which is why you always see worms on the sidewalks after a heavy rain.

I dug through the bin with my trowel, hoping against hope that there were still some worms in there, but no, they were all dead. In my ignorance and (accidental) neglect, I had killed them.

The aftermath

With a heavy heart, I emptied the rotted contents of my ex-worm bin into a garbage back and took it down to the dumpster. I still have some food scraps in my Worm Food container in my fridge, because I haven’t given up hope that I could try again.

If at first you don’t succeed…

And I do want to try again. I just need to save up another $30 to buy myself a new pound of worms. Maybe two, so they can process the food scraps more quickly.

My birthday’s coming up at the end of this month. Maybe someone will buy me worms for my birthday. I promise I’ll take better care of them this time. I know what I did wrong now.

RIP my worm-y friends.

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