Friday, August 6, 2010

Worm Composting 101 :)

Okay... sounds nuts right?? I sure thought so until I did a LOT of reading up on it...  There are many sites dedicated to it.. but with everything on the Internet it needs to be taken with a grain of salt... use your imagination and things you know when you read these. You can look under "Worm Composting" "Worm Tea" And  "Vermiculture"

There is no exact science to this, it's different for everyone because you have to do it the way that's right for you. One funny tidbit from our family before I go more into this. We started our worm compost in April as a family project while my husband was over the road. In May he had to go into his grandmother's crawl space to change furnace filter's and found a "Worm Ranch" that had been his uncles over 30 years ago.

So even though it may not be well know it has been around for years!

It's really pretty simple and you can make one from things you may already have lying around... or purchase for under $20.. You don't have to have one of the $100 systems that are our there. My system can be added to at any time for $5.00 or less :)

Our worm "bins"

We started our worm composting with $20 and a little knowledge from the web.

To build a worm composting system. You need. At least 3 plastic tubs of any size.. they just have to be the same size as each other, the more worms you want, the bigger the tubs you need. Also, Use colored bins, they help keep out the light which will help your worms be more active and keep the moisture from evaporating as fast.

Rubbermaid bin

You need 2 Drill bits. One that is a little bigger around then your worms, the other can be a small one for air holes... make sure it's not big enough for your worms to go through because they will try.

Non color print newspaper.. unless you know for sure that they use soybean based inks instead of the normal colored inks that can be toxic.

Dirt. Can be any untreated dirt from outside, though do check for bugs, and other life before adding it.

A piece of card board that is about as big as your tub, that will fit in and is not colored.

Some thing for risers... this can be clean cat food cans or wood pieces that are laying around

A place that is cooler and protected to keep your worm bin

And don't forget you need worms!  From what I have read it's better not to use your normal everyday worms if your wishing to make a lot of compost and or good compost. I recommend Red Worms. I have heard you can use Night Crawlers but those are so big! Can you imagine how big your bins and holes would need to be?

You can by worms online by the pound, but we bought ours one container at a time from the fishing department at a store and from our local tackle shop. We used them for fishing and what ever was let were put into our bins :) I love double duty things!

So once you have everything together it's pretty easy.

First take all of your bins, and wash them out really good.

Next, Take your big drill bit and drill holes in the bottom's of 2 bins... DON"T PUSH ON THE DRILL!  This will crack the tub and make it useless. Let the drill bit do the work.

Bottom of bin

The next step is to take the smaller bit and drill holes around the top of the side's and on one lid.
once again let the bit do the work :)

Next shred up your newspaper and get it wet.. When you remove it from the water squeeze it out a little, then loosen it up and put inside your bin.. you want it kind of Airy.

Add your dirt and your worms.

Paper's and dirt

Then wet your card board and place it on top..

To feed your worms remove card board and pull back a little of the paper, put in your veggie and fruit scraps, tea bags, coffee grounds or washed out, and ground up egg shells. Then recover with Newspaper.
(If you don't cover the food scrapes up, you can end up with lots of buggies and icky smells! Every time you feed them put it in a different spot in the bin. You'll see things in all sorts of stages of decompose.

Place lid with holes on a riser in the container without holes.
Place double stacked tubs on riser where you are keeping your worms.

Now after the worms have been eating for a while and most of the dirt has turned into worm casting.. there may still be newspaper left. Add another bin with paper and dirt but no card board. Place riser in it and then put your already working worm bin over it. Then only feed the new bin. Your worms will start to migrate through the holes down to this bin. After they have you can go through your top bin and remove stragglers and you have worm compost. Perfect for making work tea or fertilizing any of your plants!

A few things to note.
Worms are ornery.. they will go in search of other places and may end up in your bottom nonholed bin used for catching water and worm castings that come out. So check this bin regularly.

Don't be upset if you see mushrooms or little tiny bugs.. your building a miniature ecosystem.

It takes our worms 4 months to make a tub of compost because we only have about 30 worms right now. The more worms the more compost.

It is a huge surprise and so cool the first time you look in your bin and see baby worms! They are so tiny, but it goes to show you really have a little world in your big one :)

This is a fun thing to do with your kids and can be kept in a cool closet or some where else cool. In our house we have ours in the kitchen where our broken dishwasher used to be. :)

Worm bins together.

 And don't forget this is a great way to teach your kids how to take care of something, about ecosystems and about composting. Not to mention it's really fun!

My 3 year old and the "wormmies"

 Have a wonderful day, and if you have any questions feel free to ask. I'll answer what I can :)
Remember to count life's small blessings... they add up fast!


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