Why Compost With Worms? Worm composting is a method for recycling food waste into a rich, dark, earth-smelling soil conditioner.
The great advantage of worm composting is that this can be done indoors and outdoors, thus allowing year round composting. It also provides apartment dwellers with a means of composting. In a nutshell, worm compost is made in a container filled with moistened bedding and redworms. Add your food waste for a period of time, and the worms and micro-organisms will eventually convert the entire contents into rich compost.
The following information is based on the experiences of a network of worm composters linked to City Farmer, Vancouver, and the excellent and practical book: Worms Eat My Garbage by Mary Appelhof.
This brief introduction to worm composting is only a basic guide, and while we have tried to include all the necessary information to get you and your worms started, we recommend that you also read the book - it is full of useful and fascinating details about this process. You can also make a visit to one of the Compost Demonstration Gardens in the Greater Vancouver to see worm compost bins actively working, and talk to experienced staff.
Call the Compost Hotline, Either build or buy, or use your imagination and recycle something like an old dresser drawer, trunk, or discarded barrel. We prefer wood because it is more absorbent and a better insulator for the worms. We use plastic containers but find that the compost tends to get quite wet. Experiment and find out what works for you and your worms. The container depth should be between eight and twelve inches. Options to one large and heavy box are a number of smaller containers for easier lifting and moving and more choice of location.
The book illustrates a variety of containers. A plastic bin may need more drainage - if contents get too wet, drill more holes. Raise the bin on bricks or wooden blocks, and place a tray underneath to capture excess liquid which can be used as liquid plant fertilizer. The bin needs a cover to conserve moisture and provide darkness for the worms. If the bin is indoors, a sheet of dark plastic or burlap sacking placed loosely on top of the bedding is sufficient as a cover.
For outdoor bins, a solid lid is preferable, to keep out unwanted scavengers and rain. Like us, worms need air to live, so be sure to have your bin sufficiently ventilated. Suitable bedding materials are shredded newspaper and cardboard, shredded fall leaves, chopped up straw and other dead plants, seaweed, sawdust, compost and aged manure.
Try to vary the bedding in the bin as much as possible, to provide more nutrients for the worms, and to create a richer compost. Add a couple of handfuls of sand or soil to provide necessary grit for the worm's digestion of food. It is very important to moisten the dry bedding materials before putting them in the bin, so that the overall moisture level is like a wrung-out sponge.
The bin should be about three-quarters full of moistened bedding. Lift the bedding gently to create air spaces which help to control odours, and give freer movement to the worms.
Worm Composting 101: Worms Eat Your Trash
WORMS The two types of earthworm best suited to worm composting are the redworms: Eisenia foetida commonly known as red wiggler, brandling, or manure worm and Lumbricus rubellus They are often found in aged manure and compost heaps. Please do not use dew-worms large size worms found in soil and compost as they are not likely to survive.
Where To Get Your Worms? If you feel adventurous, find a horse stable or farmer with a manure pile and collect a bagful of manure with worms. Check your own or a friend's compost bin for worms. You can also purchase worms.
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Call the Compost Hotline for more details on local British Columbia sources of redworms. And see our Worm Supplier page here. Mary Appelhof suggests that the correct ratio of worms to food waste should be: for one pound per day of food waste, use two pounds of worms roughly If you are unable to get this many worms to start with, reduce the amount of food waste accordingly while the population steadily increases.
Worm Composting Basics for Beginners | Eartheasy Guides & Articles
You can compost food scraps such as fruit and vegetable peels, pulverized egg shells, tea bags and coffee grounds. It is advisable not to compost meats, dairy products, oily foods, and grains because of problems with smells, flies, and rodents. No glass. To avoid fly and smell problems, always bury the food waste by pulling aside some of the bedding, dumping the waste, and then cover it up with the bedding again. Bury successive loads in different locations in the bin.
Worm composting is ideal for apartment dwellers, classrooms, businesses, for those with limited mobility, and for anyone interested in year-round indoor composting. Worm compost is made in a container filled with moist bedding and red wigglers. Add your food waste and the worms will turn the contents into rich compost. Red wigglers eat their weight in waste every two days!
AN EMPTY BASKET
The worms survive between temperatures of 13 degrees to 25 degrees Celsius. If they are outside it is important to keep them in the shade during the summer, and insulated during the winter.
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Check out the sites on this page for purchase locations. Bedding You will need damp bedding for the worms to live in and for you to bury food waste in. Suitable bedding includes shredded newspaper, cardboard, leaves, straw, sawdust, compost or manure. It is important to moisten the bedding to about the wetness of a wrung-out sponge. In addition, covering the worms, bedding and food with a thick layer of shredded newspapers will prevent fruit flies from laying eggs and help prevent any odors.