You just booked your hotel and flight for a long-anticipated vacation. Suddenly, the thought hits: “What should I do about my composting worms during my vacation?” You never left them alone for that long. Don’t worry. This article will guide you on how to prepare your vermicomposting worms while you’re out of town.
Getting Your Composting Worms Ready
We suggest you start a feeding schedule log for at least a week. You need to know how often you feed your worms and the amount of food that you add to the bin. You can either weigh the food or measure its volume in cups. Write down the information so that you can refer to it later.
This brings up another question, perhaps one you never realized before: how do you know that your worms are fed the right amount? Check to see whether they have started breaking down the food you fed them the last time. That will give you an indication of your worms’ appetite and feeding amount. When they have started breaking down the last feeding, it’s time to feed them again. We recommend that you feed your worms approximately every two to three days. Each feeding should be completely broken down in about a week or so.
How to Prepare Food for When You are Not Home
Smaller pieces of food break down faster than larger ones. Too many large pieces of food in the bin could stink it up, introduce flies, and may even get your worms sick. Save up your kitchen scraps. Scrounge some excess vegetation from the vegetable garden. If you don’t have any extra scraps, ask neighbors, local coffee shops, health food stores, and independent restaurants if you can have scrap organic matter and coffee grounds.
Look at your log and calculate how much food the worms will need. Divide the number of days you will be away by how often they are fed. Then multiply by the weight or volume of food they get per feeding. For example, if you are going away for 14 days, and the worms need 1.5 cups of food every 3 days:
14 days / 3 days = 5 feedings
5 feedings x 1.5 cups = 7.5 cups of food
Whatever scraps you have amassed for your worms should be run through a food processor. Store the processed scraps in either zipper storage bags or plastic containers. Then place them in the refrigerator or freezer.
Another Dilemma: Should You Hire a Sitter?
Some people have already hired a pet sitter for their dogs, cats, birds, etc. If you do have one planned for this vacation, we strongly urge that you train the sitter beforehand. The log is an excellent guide. The sitter will know how much to feed your vermicomposting worms, how often, and when they were last fed. The hard work was already done as you have already-processed the food and put it either in the refrigerator and/or in the freezer. All that’s needed is to train your sitter to bury the food into the composting bin.
Or, Let Nature Take Its Course
Should the sitter balk at this additional duty, or you don’t have one, then you have no other alternative. Your worms will have to fend for themselves.
Before you leave, bury one or two feedings into the composting bin. In our example above, that would be 3 cups of food. Then, place sheets of black-ink-only newspaper or one layer of corrugated plain brown cardboard on top of the bedding. When the food runs out, your worms will start to eat the cellulose.
A Simple Note to Assuage Guilt
Don’t feel guilty knowing that your worms’ food supply will be limited. Your worms may go hungry. Some could perish. On a positive note, composting worms have the ability to replenish their population quickly, even with just a few remaining survivors. Once you start feeding them, they’ll start eating and breeding. Even if they all die, worm eggs might be hiding in there! If you want to top up the population, order another bag of worms from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm.
Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm is the USA’s #1 supplier of composting worms. We breed our worms on our farm in Pennsylvania. Our live worms include Red Worms for composting, and European Night Crawlers for composting, fishing, and aeration.