What is vermicomposting? As you might guess, vermicompost is created with the help of composting worms, usually red wigglers. The worms eat all sorts of organic material and excrete worm castings, a superior food for your plants.
Why make compost in a worm bin? Worm bins allow you to compost year round inside. It’s easy, fast, odor-free, makes super compost and it’s fun!
BEDDING is the material in which the worms will live. It is made up of shreds of cardboard, leaves, paper, egg cartons, and coir (coconut fiber), compost and even lint from the dryer. You can also add tea leaves and coffee grounds tot he bedding. Coffee grounds are acidic, so don't overdo it. These materials in small pieces should be mixed and moistened with non-chlorinated water, and then left to sit for a few days. It should not be soggy, but feel like a squeezed out sponge - no drips. Remember worms are about 90% water, so they don’t like their home dry, but they don’t like it soggy either. One-quarter inch drill holes in the top of the bin or a piece of landscape cloth positioned over the bin opening will allow oxygen to circulate into the bin. Your bin can become anaerobic without enough oxygen. Avoid standing water on the bottom of your bin.
NOW ADD WORMS, our recommendation, red wigglers, their scientific name is Eisenia Fetida. They have three jobs: eat, poop, and make babies. You job is to feed them the right food and keep their home moist and comfortable. A pound of worms, about 1000, can eat a half a pound of food a day but this does not mean you should feed them that much each day.
WHAT DO RED WIGGLERS EAT? You can feed kitchen scraps like veggies and fruit, banana peels, avocado, apples. Melon is tasty for worms, but not too much because it can make the bin too wet. Throw some crushed leaves in now-and-then to keep the bin balanced. Cut the food into small pieces and freeze if you like, to break down the material faster and kill any fruit fly eggs. Wigglers have a tiny mouth and no teeth, and eat the bacteria created as the food breaks down or rots. Wigglers have a gizzard, like a chicken, and need crushed egg shells to process their food. A little sand would also work, but egg shells are good to keep the bedding in a neutral PH zone. You can add a tablespoon of crushed egg shells to a quart of food. Do not feed oily foods, meat, cheese or other dairy, or cooked food to your worms.
HOW MUCH SHOULD I FEED THEM? You do not need to feed your worms every day. If you have a small bin, like the ones sold on our website, you can start with a quarter cup of food. Check your bin tow or three days after feeding to see how much your worms have eaten. Don't feed them too much or your bin will begin to smell. If it starts to smell, add some bedding to dry out the bin and reestablish an aerobic environment.
WHEN ARE YOUR CASTINGS READY TO USE? YAfter approximately three months, the bin will be heavier and the castings uniformly crumbly, dark and silky. This depends on how thoroughly the worms have digested the contents and the moisture content of the bin.
A FEW OTHER THINGS...
- Feed the worms in different areas of the bin. (Hint: divide up the bin into four equal section that you label so you can rotate where you are feeding them)
- Bury the food inside the bin to avoid fruit flies and other pests.
- Always check in to see if they ate everything.
- Keep a supply of non-chlorinated water or rain water for use in your bins.
- Keep your worms in nice warm place around 50-70 degrees Fahrenheit (ie. garage, porch, under the sink)
- If you find that your bin is too wet then you should add bedding, if it’s too dry, then just spray with some non-chlorinated water.
- If you see other critters in the bin, don't be alarmed! They are just helping out :)