Startup worms in heavy & stinking medium

by Angie
(Brisbane, Australia)

Hi There, Really good site Stephen.

I am new to worm farming, bought a Vermihut bin & 1000 worms. Set the bin up as soon as I got it & starting bedding consisted of coconut coir shredded brown paper & newspaper, coffee grounds & shredded egg cartons. All good however when I opened the worms they were in a very wet & heavy & very stinky medium (phew) emptied them into my bin & with the amount of medium it came to the top of the tray.

Thought the best thing to do was try & tuck in some shredded newspaper to try & soak up excess moisture, also spread some on the top, did tuck in a little bit of food, not much & covered it up.
Checked it after a couple of days & worms were sort of active & bin had stopped stinking so much, however it was full to the top. Anyway, after about a week I have added another tray with new bedding and a worm bomb, heard they love watermelon so used that as new food, along with some other.

Checked it after 4 days the food had been eaten & there are a lot of small worms, refed them & I will leave it for a few more days.

What I was hoping is the fresh friable bedding would encourage the adult worms to move upwards & I would be able to empty the bottom tray & move on. Is this feasible & how long do you think I should leave the bottom tray before I empty it.

I have not had a dig around in the bottom tray (didn't want to disturb them too much), but have noticed that it is not stinking any more. Not sure whether I should empty it or leave it. Appreciate any advice you could give me.
Regards, Angie :)

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Oct 17, 2016
Re:Startup worms in heavy & stinking medium
by: Stephan

Hello Angie,

thank you for sharing your interesting experiences with your first worm bin and welcome to the worm composting community.

The way I understand your worm bin has been running for a few weeks only so far. This is actually still a period where your worms are still trying to adapt to their new environment. The fact that your worms arrived in a very stinky box is not a good sign at all and indicates that there have been a lot of dead worms inside that box. A healthy worm farm never gives of bad odors and it is nearly always the death of if not all a large amount of worms in a closed container that causes a bin to really give of very bad odors. The fact that you gave it all some air and that you added dry newspaper to the bin to absorb the excess moisture was a good decision.

However a worm bin shouldn't be full to the top right after it has been set up and I suggest you don't add any new worm food to your bin for at least 2 weeks. Don't add any additional food to the 2nd bin either, rather wait for at least two weeks to see if the level in your bin drops, which would indicate that your worms are active and feeding on the offered bedding and food. If there are enough worms in your bin they should have an impact after a few weeks although it will take several month even half a year till some worm farms are running smoothly and at full capacity .

I suggest you take a dishwashing glove and gently inspect some of the food and bedding in your bottom bin to get an idea if there are enough healthy worms inside it or if they have all died.
If you find a good amount of worms actively crawling through the bedding and food just close it again, make sure it is all moist (not sopping wet) and leave the worms in peace for the suggested time at least.

Once the level has dropped in the bottom bin and you are sure that the worms are active in the bin remove the extra bedding and watermelon from the upper bin and add it to the bottom bin. Let the worms get fully accustomed to their new bin and process nearly all the bedding and food that you have given them before you try to add food to the bin above. This should normally take several month.

An encouraging sign is that the bin had stopped to stink and that you saw lots of small worms.

For some more information on the subject of starting and maintaining a worm farm have a look at the following articles from my website which I believe will assist you to make your worm composting project a great success.

The URL's are

Dear Angie I wish you lots of success and if you have any further questions or updates about the state of your worm farming project please share it with us.

Kind regards

Stephan Kloppert

Author of "How to start a profitable worm business on a shoestring budget"

Editor of

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