Welcome to the home of worm composting. Are you interested in having the best compost nature can make? Worms are the answer. They take your trash and make it into black gold. A few handfuls will transform you soil into a plants best friend. Here are a few videos to get you started. To the left are some great articles to answer some of your questions and to the right you can get everything in book form.
Vermicomposting is the process of taking organic waste and turning it into high quality compost using worms. It’s a fantastic way to to take your household kitchen waste and change into something fantastic for your garden. You won’t realize how many food scraps you’re throwing in the garbage or down the drain until you start your vermicomposting project. Just piling the scraps in the corner of the garden is a slow process that doesn’t take full advantage of the decomposition process. Worms are food eating machines and then encapsulate the results leaving a slow release nutrient.
The easiest way to start vermicomposting is in a worm box. It’s unobtrusive, doesn’t have to smell, and can be easily accessible. You can take most of your table scraps and even your paper and cardboard and turn them into garden gold. Vermicomposting can reduce your garbage by a third and double your harvest in your garden.
If you’ve been just using your worm castings/compost only in the soil you’re missing out on one of the extra benefits of ‘worm tea’ – also known as vermicompost tea, worm castings tea, or just plain compost tea.. Tea, makes your compost go even further. Compost tea has even been shown to increase the nutritional quality and improve the flavor of vegetables. When sprayed on the leaves, compost tea helps suppress foliar diseases, increases the amount of nutrients available to the plant, and speeds the breakdown of toxins. Here is an easy way to make compost tea. The key to making great worm compost tea is to start with high quality worm compost. Here’s what you’ll need
2 cups of well composted worm castings
2 tablespoons of molasses but you can also use corn syrup
Water which has been left to stand overnight or rain water.
An aquarium pump and airstone. The airstone makes better tea but not necessary.
Put the worm castings in an old sock,cheesecloth, or a stocking hose that has no holes and tie the opening closed.
Fill a bucket with water. Either use rain water or let the water stand so it is chlorine free. You don’t want to kill the beneficial micro-organisms.
Add corn syrup or molasses to the water in the bucket. This will serve as food for the micro-organisms.
Place the sock in the bucket.
If you have one, use a bubbler like an aquarium pump and airstone. Place it in the the bucket and plug in the bubbler so the the water is aerated.
Let water and castings bubble (or at least soak) for 24 hours. If you don’t have a bubbler, consider stirring occasionally, being careful not to break the sock or stocking.
1. Worms are hermaphrodites, meaning they have both male and female organs
2. Worms have no legs, they have bristles all over there body that help them move
3. There are 2-20 baby worms in each cocoon
4. Worms breed after only 2 to 3 months from “birth”
5. Worms breathe through their skin
6. The population of worms will double every 2 to 3 months
7. Worm eggs in 21 days
8. Worms breed approximately every 7-10 days (sounds familiar)
9. Red Wigglers and other compost worms eat half their own weight in food each day
10. If a worm is cut in half, only the part of the body that has the head will live.
11. Worms cannot hear or see.
12. Worms can have between 1-5 pairs of hearts.
13. Worms are cold blooded and their body is made up of 80% water.
14. There have been cases of worms living up to 15 years but worms typically live for about 3-4 years
15. Earthworms are 82 % protein.
16. Almost all of the earthworms in North America are not native, but were introduced from the Old World. Not only have invasive earthworm species completely displaced the former native species, most of the North American forests originally had no earthworms.
Onions: They don’t like them because they know they have no nutritional value. Will be there when all other scraps have been processed in the worm bin
Meat or Bones: The worms don’t like them but every other animal does. They can smell it from miles away and will do whatever they can to get at them, including taking off the lid or tipping over your womery.
Eggshells: Worms can’t eat eggshells. It’s OK to break them up and add them to your compost because they add calcium. It doesn’t hurt the worms, they will simply avoid them.
Citrus: Worms don’t like acidity. A few pieces here and there are OK but if you throw a whole bag of oranges in there the worm bin will become acidic and if you remember, worms don’t like acidity.
Field Corn: Why would you even say field corn. I just thought I would throw this in. I added corn from the field because I thought they would like it. The opposite. The field corn loved the bin and grew and grew, completely taking over the bin and the worms couldn’t keep up.
Vermicompost is made of …….well worm poop and a little decayed organic matter. Worms can eat up to their own weight in organic matter A DAY!. The amazing part of worms is the don’t digest what the eat. They merely eat, take the nutrients they need (which is very little), a release the processed matter encapsulated. The result is an unexplained event. The resulting matter has 6-8 times more micro-nutrients than the original matter they ate. They also clean the matter of disease pathogens as they process the material through their body. The world’s perfect nutrient is created.
Worm casts are a chock full of nutrients. Much more than ordinary soil. Compared to average topsoil, worm castings have five times more nitrogen, 7 times more phosphorus, and 11 times more potassium. The pH is also a perfect balance of 7.
All this leads to a slow releasing fertilizer that makes your yard greener, your strawberries sweeter, and your flowers more floriferous. To buy this type of fertilizer would cost you several dollars a pound and worms can make it all for you, right in your own yard……for free.
If the worm farm is too wet or the are being overfed your wormery can start to smell. Solution: Stop feeding the worms until they’ve eaten the food already in the worm bin. From that point on, feed the worms smaller amounts of food. You can also add shredded newspaper to help dry it out
2. Worms Don’t Seem to Be Breeding:
Worms need the right conditions to breed. Correct moisture, temperature, and the right food are all necessary to create more worms in your worm farm. Worms don’t like direct sunlight or huge fluxes in temperature. Be careful with sugary foods or grains. Adding these foods create acidic conditions within the farm and the worms will not breed. Solution: If your wormery gets too acidic, add a little lime to bring down the pH. Do this for a few weeks until you’ve buffered the acidity.
3: I Have Ants or Bugs in My Worm Farm:
Generally a sign of overfeeding. Bugs and insects are attracted to rotting material
Solution: This is a simple one. If your wormery has legs, place the legs in bowls of water. Ants can’t swim
To Get Started with Vermicomposting you’re going to need 5 Things
2. A Container
5. Kitchen Scraps (non fatty)
The worms are the work horse of your compost bin. Check here to see what type of worms work best for you but we prefer red wigglers. Worms generally eat their weight per day in food but most bins start without 1 pound of worms.
You can get fancy and figure out how much food waste you generate in a week and build a container that can hold it or you can have multiple bins. A bin tray will hold 1 pound of scrap per square foot and you’d like to be able to at least hold a few days worth of food in each bin. A bin should be between 8 and 12 deep because worms feed on the top layer and if it’s too deep moisture starts to build up and it can start to smell.
You can build or buy your worm house. We sell the worm bins and feel it is much easier and so well designed that it’s more cost effective to buy a bin. If you need more bin you just add another one. Many people build their own out of wood or plastic containers. Of the two we prefer the weight of the plastic. If it is well maintained you can keep them under your sink or in your laundry room. A smaller bin should never smell as long as it in NOT kept air tight.
Depending on the size of the container, drill 8 to 12 holes (1/4 – l/2 inches) in the bottom for aeration and drainage. A plastic bin may need more drainage — if contents get too wet, drill more holes. Keep the bin off the ground with bricks or wooden blocks, and place a tray underneath to capture excess liquid which can be used as compost tea. The bins we sell have 5 trays that are screens that allow the worms to move up to the kitchen scraps above. There is also a tray on the bottom with a tapper to catch all the wonderful compost tea that falls to the bottom.
The bin needs to stay dark inside and although not air tight, needs to conserve moisture for the worms. A lid also keeps out scavengers but that has never been a real problem for us, even in the country.
Bedding is a material that gives the worms a place to live but also can be processed. There are many different types of bedding and most you have around the house or are easily found.
1. Shredded newspaper. We all shred our bills and documents so rather than throwing it in the garbage you can use it in your worm bin. Try and keep the plastic fronts of the envelopes out of the mix. Ink is not a problem
2. Shredded cardboard. Retains moisture better than newspaper but harder to throw through the shredder.
3. Peat moss. Easy to find at any garden center. Get straight peat moss, not the fertilizers and moisture gels.
4. Coconut moss. Its the product we send with all our bins. A little harder to find but if you have old hanging plant baskets you can use the old coco moss for your worms, even if it’s not good enough for your basket anymore.
Once you’ve chosen your bedding soak it in water for 24 hours. At that point, take it out and wring as much water out as you can. We want it to be moist but not dripping. Put your bedding in the bin and fluff it up. You’ll want to make sure it stays moist, but not wet, at all time. A spray bottle comes in handy during the winter.
You’ll want to add the scraps slowly as the worms build in number. You want your scraps to be composted and eaten, not to rot in the bin. Lay your scraps on the top or in a corner. If it starts to smell, reduce the amount of food added to the bin. Leafy vegetables are easier for the worms to digest. I’ve found they absolutely love Sweet potatoes and corn. Go here for more on what scraps to use.