Worm Factory Websites Advertise Worm Tea
Are you thinking of buying a Worm Factory? Several websites sell the Worm Factory, which is an older model, and the Worm Factory 360 which is the new model. These sites state that the liquid that drains into the bottom tray is worm tea. This liquid is actually leachate not worm tea. Potential buyers of the Worm Factory should have accurate information. So I would like to clear up the misunderstanding here:
Here are two examples of the erroneous comments from some of the marketing websites for the Worm Factory:
- “In a Worm Factory water will filter through the trays soaking up nutrients from the castings. The Worm Tea ends up at the base of the Worm Factory, and can be extracted from a handy spigot.”
- “Worm tea can be collected at the base of the Worm Factory. This is the waste liquid processed by the worms and it is rich in plant nutrients. A spigot at the base allows you to collect the worm tea easily. The worm tea can be diluted and used as an organic fertilizer or foliar spray.”
One Worm Factory owner emailed the Worm Factory (WF) company and posted this comment:
“After I bought my WF and following the posts here, I have e-mailed WF and commented on their description of “worm tea”. I got a reply and they admitted that the run-off is NOT WORM TEA, rather what is called LEACHATE in the vermicomposting community. The name will be changed with the next printing.” See more on this response from Worm Factory .
The Liquid from the Worm Factory is Leachate not Worm Tea
The website owners selling the Worm Factory are giving out erroneous information. The liquid in the bottom of the Worm Factory is what leaches out of the worm compost. The composition of the leachate depends on how composted the worm compost is, what food scraps are in there and what state of decomposition they are in and if any part of the factory has gone anaerobic from lack of oxygen. This leachate could actually harm your plants. See this link: Using Worm Bin Leachate.
Worm tea is made by soaking finished worm compost in water. There are many aerobic micro-organisms in worm tea. Some people aerate the tea using an aquarium bubbler and add molasses to increase the growth of the micro-organisms.
Here is an excellent discussion on the value of worm tea with differing opinions. There are over 50 comments on this thread with valuable information so you will become very educated about worm tea!
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Read more worm factory reviews. The Worm Factory advertises that: the worms will migrate upwards as food sources are exhausted. So you won’t have to separate the worms when the lowest bin is ready.
This never worked out for me. The worms were perfectly happy to stay in the lowest level. The worms were in every level but they never all migrated upwards to the food source. Or they went downwards to the bottom where the leachate collects.
So when the lowest tray of vermicompost was finished there was always a big job of separating the worms from the vermicompost.
Here is a review on Amazon where the customer had a similar experience to mine. Also other things didn’t work out so well for this reviewer:
. . . Although the worms are SUPPOSED to migrate upward, I found most of my worms in the very bottom trays where it stays very wet. The trays that were supposed to have the fewest worms always had the most. The compost created by the worms is very wet and messy and nothing like what they advertise. That’s ok, I just don’t appreciate being mislead. And, unless you have massive — and I mean massive — numbers of worms, the composting doesn’t go as fast as they claim. A 5 pound bucket of worms won’t compost even 2 or 3 stacked bins as fast as they claim.
I have since started my own very inexpensive home-made bins and I don’t bother with the half bin stuff. I use inexpensive Sterlite bins with some air holes and drain holes poked through or drilled. . .
You can continue reading this review at Amazon Review on Worm Factory
So with my experiences with the Worm Factory I wanted to go back to worm bin composting with my Worm Friendly Habitat. You could really use any plastic or wooden container. You don’t have to buy a Worm Friendly Habitat. It is just a plastic bin with ventilation. I sold my Worm Factory on Craigslist. I kept two of my Worm Factory Composter Extra Trays for worm separation (see picture to the right)because they work in an excellent way along with a bright grow light and tantalizing food choices in the new tray to get the worms out of finished worm compost. See my blog post on How to Separate the Worms from the Vermicompost.
In this Worm Factory review I will address some of the problems that I encountered with it. It was the third method that I used for worm composting. In my Worm Factory I continually had to open it up to get the worms out of the bottom drainage level. They consistently ended up there. This is one reason why I hesitate to put drainage holes in a DIY worm bin because I know how red wigglers migrate out of drainage holes.
Though the Worm Factory is very compact and neat looking it does have some usability issues. It is a good practice to go into the worm bin about once a week and stir up the bedding and see how they are doing. This also aerates the worm bin which is a good thing. Worms need oxygen to live. With the Worm Factory it is hard to get into the bin to see how the worms are doing or to get them all out of the drainage tray:
You have to lift off the trays depending on how many you have.
When they are full they are heavy and I was never quite sure where to put them because a lot of worms would be hanging out the bottom and I didn’t want to squish them.
So if you have, say, 3 trays, you have to lift out two of them before you can see or work with the lowest level and to see what is happening in the bottom tray. This is important because the weight of all the upper trays compresses the lower tray so there is not so much available oxygen. Sometimes my lower tray wouldn’t smell so good because of a lack of plentiful oxygen. I would always mix up the compost in the lower bin to oxygenate it.
Then you need to remove the lowest tray to get the worms out of the bottom. There were always lots of worms in the bottom where the spigot is. I would put layers and layers of newspaper in the lowest tray to block them from going into the drainage tray but they still managed to get down there. I don’t know what attracted them there. Maybe there were a lot of bacteria down there?? Maybe they didn’t have enough oxygen in the tray above because it was so compressed by the weight of the trays above it. But they were always there and I had to scoop them out and put them into another working tray.
Some ads say that “worm tea” collects in the bottom where the spigot is. It is not worm tea but leachate. It is the liquid that leaches through the worm bin and depending on the status of your worm bin it could contain harmful substances for plants. Worm tea is the liquid from soaking finished worm compost in water for a day or two. Read more at these links about leachate turning leaves yellow and the difference between worm tea and worm leachate.
- Using Worm Bin Leachate
- Difference Between Worm Tea and Leachate
I will continue with my review of the Worm Factory in my next post. Please bear in mind these are my personal experiences with the Worm Factory and certainly on Amazon there are good reviews, also.