Smelly Worms?

What Do I Do When My New Worm Bin Smells?!

When I returned to St. Louis from Milwaukee three days after I started my worm composting bin I was excited to see my wigglers’ progress. As I moved close I realized I could smell an unpleasant odor, not strong but not friendly either, and certainly not a good sign. I opened the lid, pushed aside the top bedding and saw (and smelled) plenty of squishy rotting food in the form of gooey spinach and romaine salad leaves, moldy bits of paper, and leftover grits and other food crumbs that looked like thoroughly chewed and spit out bread. I wasn’t expecting the kitchen scraps to have been completely eaten in three days, and the mold in the contained environment only aided in the decomposition process. However, worm bins are not supposed to smell. That’s a sign I did something a bit wrong.

Troubleshooting

The Problem: A Smelly Worm Bin

From what I’ve read, a smelly worm bin could be a result of four things:

  1. Not enough air
  2. Too wet of an environment
  3. Too much food compared to the number of worms living in my bin
  4. No/not enough dry top bedding

I was careful about the moisture and hadn’t added additional water so I was pretty sure the moisture level was adequate. It may have been I didn’t have enough air circulation. Most likely, though, was that I put too many scraps in the bin for the relatively small number of worms I purchased. I decided to attempt to solve this problem first and leave altering the air circulation as Plan B.

The Remedy: Additional Shredded Newspaper + Time

My solution was to let the bin sit untouched with no additional food scraps until the smell dissipated, assuming it would dissipate at all. I re-covered the food scraps and then added some additional shredded newspaper bedding on top to help absorb odor.

Did it work? I’ll find out tomorrow!

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