Professor Worm FAQs

Breeding and Sexual Behaviour of Compost Worms:

Compost worms breed prolifically once sexually mature at +- 3 months. While compost worms are hermaphrodites (containing both male and female sexual organs) they do need a partner in order for both worms to make a cocoon. These cocoons, under ideal conditions, will...

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ECO WORM FARMS will separate your worms from soil or clean worm farms where worms are unhappy – please see the following pictures – at a cost from R300 – depending on the problem/s. It is most important to have happy worms as they will produce rich Vermicompost (Castings) and Vermitea. If you do not reside in the Cape Town area, please contact me and send some photos of your troubled worm farm and Professor Worm and I will be only too happy to advise.

WE CARE FOR OUR WORMS

These pictures show some awful situations that some worms are living in and after sorting out the worms, cleaning the worm farms and placing the worms in HIGH CARE, they all went home feeling revitalized.

Maggots – that eat the worms.

Black grubs from sewerage and drain flies.

Worm farm used as a dump.

Grubs.

Marrow bones, knitting and sewing etc.

Junk.

Bones, ropes, balls etc.

Pure junk

Kitchen bin.

Unwanted food from table covered in red mites.

Old food from dinner plates, red mites etc.

Everything wrong and type of scale on sides.

Large amounts of ginger in food which is extremely acidic – Vermicompost should look black.

Worms falling through holes. I would say this as a result of gravity.

This is the reservoir tray where the Vermitea should be – speaks for itself – not Vermitea as she expected but mud and dead worms.

Help From Professor Worm

Here are some very interesting facts about us – the Eisenia Fetida Compost Worm Family. A few words from me, Professor Worm. I, Professor Worm am an Eisenia Fetida, and so are my scholars. We poo so good (vermicast) because we EAT so good! The crittering of my worms (sounds of worms eating their food) is music to my soul. We appear to be shy, but more certainly are NOT shy – it is just when our skins and bodies are exposed to light that we feel distressed. We eat most things organic from the kitchen table – nothing goes to waste, but is turned into good rich worm poo. We like raw vegetable scraps and peelings, fruit, coffee and tea bags, egg shells (high in calcium), shredded newspaper (in fact any paper, as long as not glossy!), and our favourites – avocado, pear and pumpkins! We thrive on manure, especially rabbit manure that fattens us up quickly, and of course our worm treats conditioner. We convert the above into “Black Gold ”, either as compost of Vermitea. We are not common garden worms, but a specialised composting worm, living off the organic luxuries of kitchen waste, in a rich organic environment, where moisture is maintained throughout the year. We are the Eisenia Fetida! We are hermaphrodites, meaning that we have both male and female sexual organs. We do not have eyes, but have light and touch sensitive organs to sense light intensity and ground vibrations. We breathe through our skin and secrete enzymes which assists in breaking down food. We are segmented, and have almost transparent pairs of bristles, which help us move.We do not have teeth, although we have strong mouth muscles – hence we cannot “chew” rough food, but rather need food cut up finely or mashed with a grit like coffee or soil particles. This food is ground down further within internal gizzards, using powerful muscles.

Worms do not go up from one tray to the next – this has been tried and tested – please do not be fooled. A client had purchased a certain worm farm and found that the worms were not going up from one tray to the next no matter what she did and in sheer desperation she moved the trays around.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS BY CLIENTS

QUESTION: DO YOU HAVE A BIG PROPERTY OR SMALLHOLDING AS YOU HAVE WORMFARMS?
ANSWER: NO I DO NOT – IT IS THE NAME GIVEN FOR HOUSING YOUR WORM BOXES.

QUESTION: DO THE WORMS NEED EGGSHELS FOR THEIR DIET?
ANSWER: NO NOT NECESSARILY, EGGSHELS CONTAIN CALCIUM WHICH IS USED FOR BONES AND WORMS DO NOT HAVE BONES.

QUESTION: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN EARTHWORM AND A COMPOST WORM (EISENIA FETIDA) AND CAN THEY LIVE TOGTHER?
ANSWER: FIRSTLY, AN EARTHWORM LIVES UNDERGROUND. YOU USUALLY FIND ONE IF YOU DIG A HOLE TO PLANT A SHRUB. THEY FEED MAINLY ON ROOT FIBRES AND DECAYING ROOTS.  COMPOST WORMS FEED MAINLY ON SOME FRESH KITCHEN WASTE. THE WORMS CANNOT LIVE TOGETHER AS THEY HAVE DIFFERENT FOOD REQUIREMENTS AND ENVIRONMENTS ETC.

QUESTION: DO WORMS WEE?
ANSWER: NO THEY DO NOT – THEY ONLY MAKE CASTINGS – POO

QUESTION: DO BIG WORMS MATE WITH SMALLER WORMS?
ANSWER: NO THEY DO NOT – A WORM GENERALLY MATES WITH A WORM OF A SIMILAR SIZE.

QUESTION: CAN I HOLD THE WORMS IN MY HAND FOR LONG – E.G. PASSING THE SAME WORM AROUND A CLASSROOM.
ANSWER: NO – ONLY FOR A FEW SECONDS AS THEIR SKINS ARE MOIST AND THEY BREATH IN OXYGEN THROUGH THEIR SKINS.  IF WORMS ARE KEPT OUT OF THEIR NATURAL HABITAT FOR TOO LONG, THEIR SKINS DRY AND THEY BECOME PARALYSED AND DIE.

Rich, healthy compost will always attract an array of other creatures, all which help in breaking down compost into rich organic food for your plants. Thus seeing spiders, beetles, ants, fungi, mould, white mites and diptera (fungus gnats) are all good. Anaerobic, acidic and ‘stinky’ compost all point to a severe imbalance within the compost heap, and can attract very unwelcome compost guests, such as rats, snakes, mice, red mites, rove beetles and infestations of ants. Good compost management and pH balance restores the equilibrium soon, so be sure to add lime to your compost heap to keep the pH neutral as possible, and allow for good drainage, which prevents the build-up of acidity, as well as fermentation.

Our Food Dislikes

Processed foods which contain salts, or other additives and these acidic foods, such as chillies, onions, garlic, citrus fruits, pineapple and tomatoes. Also avoid feeding us meat, dairy and pet faeces!

Food We Love

Us compost worms will eat almost any organic matter that is in the process of breaking down, or ‘rotting’. We primarily eat the microbes, bacteria and minute particles of food. Some of our favourite foods to eat are pumpkin, butternut, mango, and of course good old filter coffee grinds, as these boost our metabolism.

As vermicomposting becomes ever more popular as an “on site” green waste solution, so too, are large corporations, hotels, schools and buildings looking to compost worms in order to:

  • Reduce their carbon footprint, as most cardboard, paper and green waste can be managed and used in “corporate” gardens.
  • Creating food gardens in the ample space, for donation to needy communities, or for use in in-house kitchens.
  • Qualification as a “Green Building” or “Green School”, whereby organisations show their commitment to change, and are given points toward certification as a “Green” institution.
  • Immense on-site cost savings, as money and waste that would pollute and already overfull landfills, is now spent on sustainable solutions on site.
Laugh Of The Day Just before Christmas, a young mother with her 9 year old son came to look at the worm farms – while the mom and I were discussing the worms, the little boy disappeared. The mom shouted out ‘where are you’ – he jumped up as asked ‘aunty – do rats eat worms’. Later, unbeknown to me, he had a rat in one pocket and had scooped a handful of worms from under a butternut and put them in another pocket. The mother and I went over to him and overheard the little boy say to his pet rat to eat the worms as quickly as the rat could. The mother was most embarrassed and I just laughed and said carry on. I only wish I had a camera on me to show the expression on their faces – needless to say I have grandchildren and thought ‘boys will be boys’