There is no doubt that the garden and the bluegills love some worms. You know who else loves worms, that little egg factory outback. Chickens go crazy for worms. I am always impressed at those birds ability to navigate and hunt worms that are unseen by the human eye. With all the benefits of worms …
Vermiculture or vermicomposting is the method of using worms to break down organic matter into useable compost for your garden. This method is catching on throughout the US, and you can often find “worm bins” for composting in your gardening catalogs.
To the uninformed, keeping worms in a bin outside or even in your home is pretty odd. However, vermicomposting has a range of different benefits that heavily outweigh any initial ick factor or hesitation over taking on a new project.
Benefits of Vermicomposting
Here are just a few benefits of harnessing the power of worms for composting:
1. Can Be Set Up Indoors.
Worm bins can easily be set up right in your home or even in a kitchen corner. A properly maintained worm bin doesn’t have a noticeable odor and to visitors it often just looks like a trash can. The real benefit of having a compost system right in your home is that you can add your table scraps right away rather than throwing away food or having to carry it out to your compost pile.
2. Organic Matter Composts Quicker.
In comparison to traditional composting methods, the vermiculture composting process is done in a third of the time. Even a substantially smaller worm bin could still produce more, and a better quality, compost compared to a compost pile.
3. Vermicompost is Superior to Other Types of Compost.
Science backs vermicompost as being higher quality and overall superior to other composts, even store-bought. You can see a data table of this on the New Mexico State University website by clicking here.
Due to its chemical makeup, vermicompost increases germination in seeds, boosts plant growth and also delivers nutrients to the plants for a longer amount of time.
4. Microbes Present in Vermicompost Improve Plant’s Disease Resistance.
Those who use vermicompost regularly have noticed that plants fertilized with vermicompost are more disease-resistant and fare much better if pests are present. This is believed to be due to the presence of healthy microbes that live with the worms. They help break down organic matter but also are taken with the harvested compost and mixed into the soil.
5. Vermiculture Worm Bins Offer Two Forms of Compost.
There are two ways worms produce compost or fertilizer that you can use. The first: worm castings, which are the actual compost the worms create. The secondary way you can get fertilizer from the bin is through the excess moisture the worms create. This “worm tea” is a liquid that is rich in nutrients and can be poured right on your plants. Your worm bin set-up, even if it’s DIY, should have a spigot on the bottom bin so you can drain out this excess liquid.
6. Vermicompost Increases Soil’s Water Retention Abilities.
The worm castings which make up the vermicompost are extremely effective at retaining water. In fact, this compost can hold up to nine times its weight in water. When you mix the compost into your garden beds or pots, you are giving your soil a helping hand. This water retention means you conserve more water and also help those in dry climates improve their garden’s productivity.
7. The Whole Process is Pretty Much Hand’s Off Until Harvest.
Compared to traditional composting methods, vermicomposting is hands-off until the worms have completed the composting process. You don’t need to turn piles over or mess with the worms. All you do is feed them table scraps, inspect them regularly to ensure they aren’t underfed or overfed, and drain the extra worm tea so the bin doesn’t get too moist. You don’t go into the bin until you are ready to harvest the worm castings.
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Setting Up a Vermicomposting System
Even those who live in an urban setting with a container garden or have only some herbs growing in pots can set up a vermicomposting system. The wonderful thing about using worms is that you can scale it to your needs, whether you’ve grown a couple of tomato plants or are growing a large garden that feeds your whole family.
The first step is to determine what system you want to use.
Choosing a Worm Bin
There are plenty of manufactured worm bins on the market for a good price. These are often a nice choice for those who don’t need to produce a lot of compost. They are also ideal for those of us who aren’t so DIY-inclined or just prefer the streamlined look of plastic, especially if it’s in the home.
If you’re brand new to vermiculture, it may be a good idea to start off with one of these bins. If you decide you need to scale up then you can buy additional bins or make a larger system yourself.
That being said, there are many DIY projects that you can build to save some money.
Selecting Your Worms
Even though the common regular old earthworms compost organic matter, they aren’t especially suited for a vermicomposting set-up. There are two species of worms that are best for vermicomposting: brandling worms (Eisenia foetida) or, the most common species, red wigglers (Lumbricus rubellus).
These worms are smaller than the earthworms you tend to find in your garden and are composting powerhouses. Earthworms prefer a soil-based environment, which is why they don’t thrive in a composting set-up. Red wigglers or brandling worms prefer the more wet compost set-up and will even live right in manure.
You can purchase red wigglers or brandling worms from many different sources on the Internet, from Amazon or eBay to worm breeder’s websites. I’ve purchased worms from Amazon and from worm breeders who have listings on eBay. I recommend you do a litter research or read reviews to ensure the person or company has a history of delivering healthy worms.
You will need about one pound of red wigglers to start up a worm bin the size of the commercial ones listed above. If you need to scale up, it is recommended to go with two pounds of worms per pound of food scraps/organic material you need to compost. The worms will produce roughly their body weight in castings.
Setting Up the Bin
Setting up the bin involves simply adding bedding for the worms. Some commercial set-ups will come with bedding to get you started. If yours didn’t or you’re building one, you can use the following different materials for bedding:
- Shredded newspaper or printer paper.
- Shredded leaves.
- Hay or straw.
- Moistened peat moss.
- Old/aged manure.
Fill the bin with bedding and allow it to sit for a couple of days before introducing the worms. Make sure the bin is aerated (use your hands to lift the material) and slightly damp (not wet!) before adding the worms on top.
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Feeding Your Worms
Your worms can be fed a wide variety of different table scraps or other organic matter, such as:
- Vegetable scraps.
- Fruit scraps.
- Tea bags.
- Used paper towels or napkins.
- Coffee grounds.
Never feed your worms any dairy or meat products.
Harvesting Your Compost
The average-sized worm bin can be fed for roughly three months before you can harvest the castings. Fed on a daily basis, the worms should have eaten and broken down their bedding within that time. Once you’ve noticed that the bedding is gone, it’s time to remove the worms, separate the useable compost and replace new bedding for the worms.
There are a couple of ways you can do this, but the easiest is to construct a sifting frame from some leftover lumber and hardware cloth. Set this over a wheelbarrow or a bucket. Dump your worms and compost over this and then shimmy the frame to sift the compost through. Some little worms will get through, and you can pick these out if you want.
Vermicomposting is a super-easy process and quite fascinating since it’s powered solely by worms. It is a simple project to set up and requires very little maintenance. In return, you get some of the most powerful compost available.
Do you currently have a vermiculture set-up or plan to buy/build one? Please share any tips or other comments in the section below.
The post How Worms Can Deliver The Very Best Compost You’ve Used appeared first on Off The Grid News.
While traveling in the Pacific Northwest, I met Peter Paul, who showed me the most amazing—and amazingly simple—idea for an outdoor worm composting bin. Using the help of worms to break down food matter (even meats!), Peter shows you a couple of simple methods for making great homemade compost.
Not only that, this method creates a vibrant compost tea that gave Peter 7-foot-tall tomato plants! He also sometimes trades his “worm juice” for different items … even once for iPhone (LOL).
This is a sample of the kinds of things you’ll learn when you take The Grow Network’s “Instant Master Gardener” certification class. Chock full of useful, doable information for taking your garden to the next level, “Instant Master Gardener” is available to our Honors Lab members as part of their monthly subscription. Click here to learn more!
(This article was originally published on May 19, 2015.)
As the holiday season approaches, we thought it would be fun to poll our TGN team members about what gifts they’re hoping to receive or planning to give (or buy for themselves! ) this season.
As you know, all of us here at The Grow Network share our Community’s values and produce at least some of our food and medicine—more and more as we experiment, learn, and “grow” in gardening and homesteading wisdom! And since it’s not always easy to know what to buy for those special people in your life, we thought we’d share our own lists of gift ideas in hopes of making your holiday shopping a little simpler!
Gifts Under $25
FAVOFIT 12KN WIREGATE CARABINERS (ORANGE)
Merin Says: I’m currently using locking carabiners to secure the hasps on my chicken coop’s nest boxes, but they take extra time to open and I’m concerned they’ll freeze up when they get wet in winter. I’ve been looking for a quicker, better solution, and I think these are it. Raccoons have a hard time with these; they don’t lock, which means less trouble opening them when everything is frozen; and they’re brightly colored so I don’t lose them when one inevitably falls into my heavily mulched garden (which is right next to the chicken coop). In addition to the two orange carabiners, you get two black ones in this pack, which is fine by me. (Because when is it NOT awesome to have a couple of extra, super-strong carabiners handy?)
ANY GARDENING T-SHIRT!
Ruth Says: Gardening is a huge part of my life, and I find that wearing T-shirts about it is a great way to meet other people who share that passion. Plus, as much hard work as we do on our property, I seem to go through T-shirts faster than people with less … interesting … lives. I constantly seem to be tearing holes in my shirts or getting paint or grease on them. I can always use another T!
EARLYGROW MEDIUM-DOMED PROPAGATOR
Ruth Says: I already own EarlyGrow’s Large-Domed Propagator, and I use it to start all of my seeds indoors. I need a second propagator because my garden is just too big! I use the high-dome version for taller plants like tomatoes and peppers, and I’ll use this medium-dome propagator for lettuce and herbs. I like that EarlyGrow’s propagators have little vents on the top that allow oxygen in and help prevent molding of the soil. And they’re reusable!
TOPLIFE STAINLESS STEEL EGG SKELTER (FOR THREE DOZEN EGGS)
Merin Says: I generally don’t wash my chickens’ eggs, so I keep them in cartons on the kitchen counter. When I use eggs, I pull from the front of the top carton and move all the other eggs forward one by one so that I can remember which are freshest and use those first. Honestly, it’s a pain. Enter the egg skelter. I debated between this one and a version that holds two dozen eggs, but I get enough eggs every day (and my family of five eats enough eggs every week!) to justify the larger version.
CAMPFIRE PROS EGG-COLLECTING APRON
Merin Says: These people are geniuses. How many times have I gone out to the coop, grabbed some eggs, thought about another thing I should really get done while I’m out there, and had to make a special trip to the house to store the eggs before I can work on something else? This thing would totally solve that problem. It’s denim, so it would work for men and women. And if you’re sending your young kids or grandkids out to collect eggs, smaller versions of egg-collecting aprons (like this adorable one for $19.00) are available to help them get the eggs back to the house in one piece.
DRAMM HEAVY-DUTY BRASS SHUT-OFF VALVE
Marjory Says: A bit pricey at $20 each, but irrigation and hoses are a big part of my life. I have destroyed all of the plastic stuff in short order. These are super-long-lasting, well-built valves that I can depend on to work properly. The big handle has lots of leverage to open and close for when my hands are wet or covered with soil. You can send me a half dozen for Christmas.
Gifts Under $50
VIVERO HOME JAPANESE HORI-HORI GARDEN KNIFE
Anthony Says: The Hori-Hori is my all-time favorite gardening tool. Pretty much anything you need to do in the garden, this Japanese soil knife will help make easier.
FARM INNOVATORS SUBMERSIBLE WATER TANK HEATER/UTILITY DE-ICER
Jimerson Says: Winter is coming, and I can’t have enough warm (or at least not frozen) water for the chickens and bunnies!
Jimerson Says: I’d love a good case for storing and drying herbs that also looks nice!
WEATHERBEETA 1200D DELUXE DOG PARKA
Merin Says: We live at altitude, and we have short-haired dogs who need a little help staying warm outside when it’s super cold. These coats are warm, waterproof, and reflective. Plus, they’re super tough, which is a huge plus for durability if you hike with your dogs. WeatherBeeta has a reputation for quality, so these coats should last a while.
GARDEN ROCKER ORIGINAL COMFORT SEAT
Ruth Says: I already have a very well-loved one of these, and it’s time for another one! This is a fantastic garden seat. I like that I don’t have to kneel in the garden. I’m able to sit on the stool and keep my back straight when planting seeds or transplanting seedlings. It’s also quite nice that it rocks, as I’m able to easily reach to the side or behind me to grab whatever I need. And it’s an ab workout!
GILMOUR FARM AND RANCH HOSE (90 FT.)
Jimerson Says: I’ve found that, around the homestead, cheap hoses don’t last. All the dragging around and such . . . it’s industrial strength or nothing!
Gifts Under $80
CARHARTT WOMEN’S FLANNEL-LINED JEANS
Marjory Says: In keeping with the saying that “cotton kills” (or basically that cotton is a terrible cold-weather clothing), I am almost never warm in jeans. But flannel-lined jeans . . . now that is something else. Stretch jeans are a sign that civilization really does have some merit. And you can’t go wrong with Carhartt’s toughness.
PATHONOR 12-PIECE GARDEN HAND TOOL SET WITH CASE
Ruth Says: Every year, I try to invest in sturdy, reusable tools for the garden. I’ve had my eye on this hand tool set for a while now. I love that the handles are orange, which makes the tools hard to lose when you set them down for a second in the garden. And how neat is it that they come in their own case to help keep them organized?
VERMIHUT 5-TRAY WORM COMPOST BIN
Jimerson Says: I tried a homemade, DIY worm farm and, well, it turned out to be a mess. This worm farm is well-reviewed; small and odorless enough to be kept indoors; and it has a cool spigot feature on the bottom tray so you can easily drain off the “worm tea.”
FENIX HP25R 1000 LUMEN USB RECHARGEABLE HEADLAMP
Merin Says: This thing is a beast. I bought one for my husband last Christmas, and everyone is totally amazed by how bright it is. We live in the country, so there are no street lights and it’s really dark here at night. If we need to go grab firewood, or I need to check on the chickens after dark, we can just put this thing on, see enormously well, and still have our hands free. All that to say, I’d like one of my own!
Gifts Over $100
INSTANT POT 8-QUART, 7-IN-1 PROGRAMMABLE PRESSURE COOKER
Ruth Says: Okay, full disclosure here: I already have one of these. But I love it so much, I want another one! One of the many things I make in my Instant Pot is yogurt, and it’s an hours-long process. It would be so nice to be able to pull out a second Instant Pot so I could keep pressure cooking while the yogurt ferments!
ALEXAPURE PRO STAINLESS STEEL WATER FILTRATION SYSTEM
Ruth Says: The water where we live isn’t great, and whole house filtration can get expensive fast. This seems like a great, affordable way to have lots of purified water on hand—without having to constantly refill my water-filter pitcher.
ALL AMERICAN 21-1/2 QUART PRESSURE CANNER
GOODLAND BEE SUPPLY COMPLETE BEEKEEPER STARTER KIT
Jimerson Says: Pardon the pun, but Goodland Bee Supply’s Complete Beekeeper Starter Kit is pretty much the bee’s knees. It’s got every high-quality item a beginning beekeeper needs to get started, including two complete honey supers, a highly rated extractor, and a well-stocked tool kit. I mostly want one to give bees a good home . . . but also for that delicious honey!
(Please note that the listed prices were valid at the time of publication, but … you know how that goes!)
Whether you live in an apartment, condo, or tiny house, here are some easy and practical ways to combat your small-space composting dilemma.
Growing your own food is important to your overall health, as well as the planet’s. You want to do as much as you can, but you live in an apartment or condo with rules about what you can and cannot do on your balcony or patio. You barely have enough room to grow anything much less have some sort of compost pile.
There are a number of challenges you face as a Small-Space Composter
You barely have enough room for growing your own food. Where in the world are you going to put a compost been?
Ease of set up and easy-to-use.
A compost pile is daunting. You want the composting solution to be easy-to-set-up and easy-to-use.
Won’t attract bugs.
There is nothing worse than bugs in a small space. No bugs in the compost bin!
Works as fast as possible
Do you want to use the compost as soon as possible? There are solutions for that, too!
Small-Space Composting Solutions
There are many solutions for your small space composting. It all depends on what is important to you from the above list. What is your priority?
Here are some solutions to consider for your small-space situation:
The easiest way to compost indoors cheaply, easily, and quickly is to use a worm bin. Vermiculture (or worm composting) produces worm castings that make worm tea that is perfect for feeding the soil of your container plants.
Plastic Storage Bins
These are an excellent choice because they’re fairly inexpensive and easy-to-find. They come in a variety of sizes so that you can get the right size bin for your space. Ten to eighteen gallons is a good size. You can even stack the bins to save space. Make sure you drill aeration holes near the top to allow air into your bin.
Another option is very inexpensive and stackable. You can find 5-gallon buckets with lids at home centers and big-box stores. Also, large kitty litter containers work great, too! Be sure to drill aeration holes near the top of the bucket.
Old wooden boxes or wine crates can be turned into an indoor composter. Add a plastic bag stapled to the inside and cover with hinges or painters’ canvas.
Bokashi (Japanese term meaning “Fermented Organic Matter”)
The Bokashi method is easy and composts everything—from kitchen scraps to meat and dairy. You mix an inoculated bran filled with microbes into the Bokashi bucket and tightly cover it. When the bucket is full, seal it shut and set it to the side for 10 to 12 days. Every other day, drain the bucket (which also makes a nice compost tea). You’ll have a pre-compost, which can be put in worm bins or leave it for a month to let it break down further.
Where do you put a compost bin?
- Under the Sink
- Under a plant stand
- In a hall closet
- Out in the open (it’s a great conversation starter!)
How much do you put in?
Two types of material make composting work. They are nitrogen materials, such as food scraps and grass clippings, and carbon materials, such as leaves, shredded paper, and corrugated cardboard.
What to put in your compost bin:
- Fruit & Veggie scraps
- Coffee grounds
- Tea bags (If the bag is slippery, don’t put it in your compost)
- Shredded paper
- Trimmings from houseplants
- Hair (yours and your pets)
- Toilet paper rolls torn into small pieces
- Dryer lint
What not to put in your bin
An indoor compost bin, doesn’t heat up as much as a hot outdoor bin, so there is less microbial action happening (except for the Bokashi method). This means that the kitchen scraps won’t break down very quickly, especially if you add in:
- large chunks of anything
It’s also probably a good idea to avoid composting very smelly items, such as onion peels. You may smell it in the rest of your house. Try to avoid watery items, such as melons or squash. They might make your bin too soggy.
Tips for Success
If you want to be successful with indoor composting and get a bit of compost, too, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Have shredded paper or dry leaves handy. Every time you add food scraps or coffee grounds, plop in a handful of the shredded paper or leaves. This will keep your bin from getting too wet. Note: Junk mail works perfectly for this purpose as long as it is not the slick-coated advertisements.
- The contents of your bin need to be turned often. Turning the contents of your bin warms it up and microbes very happy. It also mixes the contents, so they don’t get too wet or too dry. Move everything around with a hand trowel. An advantage to the round bucket method is that you can roll it back and forth a few times to mix it.
- No matter what kind of bin you have, add small pieces. Pulp from your juicer will breakdown much faster than chunks of vegetables. Chop up your food scraps or put them through a blender, and be sure to shred your paper or cardboard.
It is possible to compost in small spaces, such as apartments, condos, or tiny houses. After a while, you’ll get a feel for what works and what doesn’t with your chosen composting method. It will be a great feeling to know that you’re saving waste from the landfill and making compost for your container garden.
What is your favorite composting method? The comments are waiting for you.
The post 5 Cheap and Easy Solutions For Small-Space Composting appeared first on The Grow Network.
It’s not often that we dedicate an entire article to a single organic substance, but when it comes to worm castings, they simply deserve the spotlight! I wish we had known the true power of them years ago. Ever since we
The post The Most Incredible Garden And Flower Fertilizer Ever – Worm Castings! appeared first on Old World Garden Farms.
Several years ago, Ohio State University researchers reported that there are “more microbes in a teaspoon of soil than there are people on the earth.” These microorganisms, of course, are essential to producing rich soil and strong, hardy plants.
And one big key to healthy soil is worms. Worms help compost your soil and add castings (“worm poop”) for proper soil nutrition. Liquid fertilizer then can be made from the worm castings (a fertilizer called worm “tea”). This worm tea boosts the activity of the microorganisms of the soil by adding things like bacteria and protozoa.
You can dramatically improve your soil’s quality with a worm farm, also known as vermiculture — a process in which worms are utilized to decompose the organic food waste into a material usable by the plants. This can be done at home in a cheap and easy setup, and it doesn’t need to be complicated. All you need is creativity and time!
There really is no end to the uses of your worms and their byproduct. Use them for:
- As a way to get rid of rabbit poop.
- As a way to get rid of vegetable scraps and coffee grounds.
- Chicken feed.
You can get creative with your vermiculture, but there is a general structure that must be followed for success. You’ll need the following components:
- Something to hold your worms.
- Some newspaper.
- Compost or soil.
- Green waste.
- Worms (of course!).
Think of a vermiculture setup like a compost bin with worms and a tap. The container can be anything from an old broken fridge to a wood bin. Whatever it is, you want to make sure it has a hole in the bottom for draining. If you use the fridge, lay it on its back, take all the stuff out, and drill a hole in the bottom.
Make sure your worms are kept cool and are not in the sun! Also, avoid areas with vibrations.
Now that you have your container, it’s time to work on the bedding. Start with the newspaper and rip it into little pieces. Don’t rip it all up, though. Keep some whole sheets for later. Soak it in water until mushy, and then mix well with soil. Take a few sheets of wet newspaper and place it at the bottom of the container as a base. Then, place the soil-compost mixture on top. Make sure there are a few inches of soil. (This depends on the bin and how many worms you have.)
Place the worms on top and they will burrow down into the soil. Place the green waste on one side of the worm bin. This is what the worms are going to eat. If you have some manure, great, put it on top. Use farm manure from pigs, rabbits or cattle, but not from house pets. I would not put more food than one-fourth of the soil you have. Believe it or not, they eat half their weight every day!
To finish assembling, put a lid on it and make sure to allow a small amount of light in to keep them in there. If you don’t have a top on your worms, you will have a breeding colony of flies and maggots.
Worms of choice are red wigglers or composting worms. Earthworms just don’t like to eat like the little red wigglers do. Worms are the most expensive part of the worm bin. You buy them by the pound. Start small if you have more time than money, or go big with a few pounds of worms to get castings quickly.
The nice part about worms is they multiply quickly. Adult red wiggler worms (three months old) can produce up to three cocoons per week. Each cocoon has about two to three worms. The cocoons take 11 weeks or so to hatch.
You even could make some income selling worms!
Tip: The main issue with vermiculture is that people often overwater their worm bins. You can drown your worms, so just keep the plant-based scraps and manures we described above as the main source of moisture. Worms love leaves, so put a layer of leaves on top to make them happy. Also, don’t use meat! This will turn your worm bin into a mess — and worms do not like it, either!
How do you use worms on the homestead? Do you have any vermiculture advice? Share your tips in the section below:
The very first time I heard about worm composting I was intrigued. The idea that you can feed food scraps to a bunch of worms and they’d turn it into rich nutritious compost for your garden…And you don’t need a ton of space to do it…And, you can even do it inside…Well, that’s something I definitely wanted to try!
This month, I finally got my chance to try it. And today, I’m gonna show you what I did to get started so you can try it too.
What is Worm Composting?
Worm composting (a.k.a. vermicomposting) is the process of using worms to recycle food scraps into a high nutrient soil amendment called vermicompost or worm compost. To put it simply, the worms eat your fruit and veggie leftovers and their waste, (a.k.a castings) becomes your garden’s black gold. Nice, right?
Why Compost with Worms?
Because it’s good for your garden (and good for the Earth). Healthy soil is the key to growing healthy plants. When you add worm compost to your garden you are putting organic matter back into the soil which has the nutrients plants need.
Organic matter is simply any type of living or dead plant or animal material. Worm compost is one type of organic matter that you can add to your garden soil. And, it may be the best. More organic matter in your soil means enhanced soil structure, better soil drainage, and a better environment for nightcrawler earthworms to live, eat, poop, and tunnel. ~wormcompostinghq.com
Also, like I mentioned earlier, vermicomposting doesn’t require a lot of space (It can even be done inside!) so it’s a great way for urban families to start composting.
What Do You Need to Get Started?
Obviously. But will any old earthworm, do? No, not all worms are suitable in a worm composter. The best type of worms for vermiculture are Red Wiggler (Eisenia foetida), Brown Nose Worm (Lumbricus rubellus) or European (Belgian) Nightcrawlers (Eisenia hortensis) variety. You can find these types of worms at bait-and-tack shops or online. And once you find a supplier, you’ll need 1 pound or approximately 800-1000 worms to start.
Inside a worm composter, worms don’t live in dirt. They live in bedding and the bedding is made up of “browns” which is carbon-based materials. “Browns” include shredded or torn newspaper, office paper, cardboard, leaves or combination of these items.
What do worms eat? Your recycled kitchen scraps! Worms love fruit and vegetable scraps (raw or cooked) and their favorites are tomatoes, lettuces, melon rinds, banana, potato and carrot peels. They even eat egg shells, coffee grounds, bread and tea leaves! But be sure to skip the onions, citrus, meat, fish, dairy, fats and oils.
A Worm Bin
You can make your own worm bin or you can purchase one like this cool Worm Factory 360 eartheasy.com sent me. The Worm Factory is a compact, nice looking system that includes everything you need—a durable, plastic, stacking tower, bedding made from coconut coir, pumice and shredded paper, thermometer, hand rake, mineral rock dust, an instruction book and DVD—to get started. You have the option of purchasing the factory “with worms” or “without worms”. If you choose the “with worms” factory, like I did, it comes with a worm voucher. Basically, you go to the website listed on the voucher, type in a code and they send you the worms by mail. Easy peasy.
The Worm Factory 360 consists of a plastic tower made up of 4 stacking trays that have holes in the bottom. To give you an idea of how this works, the worms start in one tray and as they eat and fill that tray with compost, you’re adding additional trays with newer food to the top of the tower. The worms migrate upwards towards the new food and you’re able to harvest the compost from the lower trays.
I really like the Worm Factory 360. It’s a done-for-you option. Everything you need to get started comes together and you can easily set it up in minutes.
How to Set Up a Worm Bin
You want to make sure your bin is set up and ready before your worms arrive.
Here are the exact steps I followed:
1.Find a good location for your worm bin. Place your bin in a location where temperatures get no higher than 90º F and no colder than 40º F. Some places to consider are a porch, patio, balcony, garage, basement, laundry room, or even under the kitchen sink. You can also keep the worm bin outside in the yard as long as it’s in the shade and is protected from wind and rain. Since the height of the Worm Factory 360 is taller than the space I have under the sink, I opted for the garage.
2. To start, you will use one stacking tray as the “starter tray” and set the other 3 stacking trays off to the side.
3. Mix up the bedding. The Worm Factory 360 came with a brick of coconut coir, minerals, pumice and shredded paper. I moistened the coir in a mixing bowl, added the shredded paper, some pumice and 1 tablespoon of the minerals and mixed it all together. It’s a good idea to add one or two cupfuls of garden soil or compost because it contains organic organisms that will make the environment hospitable for the worms and help them digest the food. The bedding mixture should be moist, not dripping. It should feel like a wrung out sponge.
5. Add 2 to 3 cups of food in one corner. The Worm Factory 360 instructions recommends feeding worms an even mixture of “browns” (shredded newspaper, cardboard, leaves) and “greens”(fruit and veggie scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds).
6. Gather 5-10 full pages of newspaper and wet until it is damp. Fold the newspaper so it fits in the stacking tray and lay it on top of the bedding to create a moist newspaper cover. Place the tower lid on top of the starter tray and wait for your worms to arrive.
What to Do When Your Worms Arrive
When your worms arrive, open the worm bin and remove the moist newspaper cover. Add the worms (including all the bedding they came in) to the bin and replace the moist newspaper cover.
Replace the moist newspaper cover and put the plastic lid back on the worm bin. It’s a good idea to leave the worms alone for two or three days so they can acclimate to their new home.
After a few days, open the lid and lift the moist newspaper. If the worms aren’t moving around in their food, replace the newspaper cover and lid and wait two more days. If the worms are moving around in their food and feeding, it’s time to start adding food to your worm bin.
If you’d like to learn more or see how my worms are doing, join me in GROW…my Facebook group for beginner gardeners.
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