Using composting Worms to create Mountains of organic Fertiliser

The information on this page will teach you about the basics of keeping composting worms. You’ll learn everything from how to set up your first bin to how to brew worm tea.

Move over sliced bread!

Composting worms are all the rage, and it looks like they’re here to stay. Join us, and find out why this wiggling phenomena is becoming so popular. Who knows? Composting with worms may just revolutionize waste management.

Before we get started, please note that there are several different terms to describe composting with worms, including vermiculture and vermi-composting.

All of these terms describe the controlled process of using worms, namely red wigglers (Eisenia foetida), to decompose organic waste, such as kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, and manure. After these wastes are broken down, the finished product, or worm castings, are harvested and used as nutrient-rich soil amendments.

These processes can take place in large-scale commercial vermiculture facilities, however, we are going to focus our discussion on the small-scale home vermiculturist, better known as YOU!

We’re going to teach you all about composting with worms, including:

So what are you waiting for? Let’s start wormin’.

red wigglers in compost

There are a lot of different reasons why people compost with worms. For instance, we started because we juice a lot of vegetables, and couldn’t stand to throw all of that wonderful pulp into our regular compost bin. Because this waste was already pre-digested, we knew worms would have to do very little work to make use of it. Aside from that, we started indoor composting with worms because we live in Ontario, Canada, and our outdoor temperatures don’t allow for quick composting in the winter months (November-March). Now that we use an indoor compost bin, we’re able to produce organic fertilizer all year round.

Other reasons to start worm composting include the following: Worm bins are incredible educational toolsIt’s a great hobbyIt helps reduce your household wasteWorm castings are amazing garden fertilizer

Here is a great article from the New York Times discussing the growing trend of vermiculture.

Using composting worms is very easy. Below are some basic vermiculture guidelines to consider before you start your wormy adventures.

A worm bin, or worm container, can be homemade or purchased from a worm bin supplier. We prefer the homemade varieties because they tend to have more character. Also, nothing says compost junkie, like re-using scrap materials to make a new worm bin.

The 3 factors that need to be considered when building, or buying, a worm bin are the shape, size, and materials. You must also consider where you will put your worm bin.

Remember, worms need lots of oxygen, so whatever bin you choose, please make sure it has adequate ventilation. Also, the rule of thumb for bin size is two square feet of surface area per person, or one square foot of surface area per pound of food waste per week.

Below is an image of a worm composting bag, created by Amy, a fellow compost junkie. These bags are wonderful creations that minimize the work needed to harvest worm castings. Food is added to the top of the bag, which keeps the worms near the surface, while worm castings are harvested from the bottom of the bag. Ingenious? We think so. Excellent work Amy.

If you’re interested in building your own worm composting bag, here is a list of step-by-step instructions.

worm composting bin-bag

The most common bedding materials for composting worms, include shredded newspaper or computer paper, leaf mold, peat moss, animal manures, coconut fiber (coir), and wood chips.

Each of these bedding materials has its own list of advantages and disadvantages. For instance, leaf mold is a natural habitat for worms, but it may also contain organisms that you don’t want in your worm bin.

It doesn’t matter which bedding material(s) you choose, you must always remember to add a couple handfuls of soil, or rock dust, to your worm bin. This is especially important if you are just setting up a new bin. These ingredients add “grit” to the bedding materials in your bin. This grit is very important because your worms use it in their gizzards to help in breaking down food particles. The soil has the added benefit of inoculating your bin with various soil microbes, all of which are important in establishing a healthy ecosystem for your composting worms.

Ah, it’s finally time to discuss the workforce within your bin…your worms!

Page 1 of 3 | Next page