The Natural Way To Create Your Own Fertilizer
Worms Can Recycle Your Garden Waste, Yard Clippings & Garbage!
Millions of tons of
food waste are buried or burned each year at considerable financial and
environmental cost. This waste is compose of garden, landscape (green waste),
and household waste. Instead of discarding your green waste and vegetable food
scraps, you can recycle them with the help of worms. Vermicomposting (worm
composting) turns many types of kitchen waste into a nutritious soil for plants.
When worm compost is added to soil, it boosts the nutrients available to plants
and enhances soil structure and drainage.
• Using worms to decompose green waste and food waste (vermicomposting) offers several advantages: • It reduces household garbage disposal costs; • It produces less odor and attracts fewer pests than putting green waste and food wastes into a garbage container; • Vermicomposting saves the water and electricity that kitchen sink garbage disposal units consume; • It produces a free, high-quality soil amendment (compost); • It requires little space, labor, or maintenance; • Vermicomposting spawns more free worms for gardening and fishing.
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.
We the offer the Red Wiggler. It is both cost effective and very reliable.
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.
Composting, Do I Need A Worm Bin?
No, you do not need a worm bin if are adding worms to your garden compost pile or to a well composted garden. They will simply go to work breaking down the compost into a rich blend of worms castings, microbes, macro and micronutrients . In addition they will work in harmony with the other species of worms in your garden that will actually "rototill" the compost into the root zone of you plants. Add 4" to 6" of compost as a mulch to your planted garden add the Red Wigglers, keep moist and leave alone. The worms will do the rest
Starting the Process
To start your
vermicomposting system, first select a location for your worm bin. Popular
indoor spots are the kitchen, pantry, bathroom, mud room, laundry room, or
basement. If you want to keep your worm bin outside, put it in the shade during
the hot summer and shelter it from the cold in winter by placing it in a garage
or carport, or putting hay bales around the bin to allow air to circulate around
the bin, and keep it protected from flooding, because the worms can drown.
Next, prepare the bedding. If you want to use newspapers, fold a section
in half and tear off long, half-inch to inch wide strips (go with the grain of
the paper and it will tear neatly and easily). Soak the newspaper in water for a
few minutes, then wring it out like a sponge and fluff it up as you add the
newspaper to your worm bin. Aim for the bedding to be very damp, but not soaking
wet (only two to three drops of water should come out when you squeeze the
bedding material). Spread the bedding evenly until it fills about three-quarters
of the bin. Sprinkle a couple of handfuls of soil (from outdoors or potting
soil) into the bedding to introduce beneficial microorganisms and aid the worms'
digestive process. Fluff up the bedding about once a week so the worms can get
plenty of air and freedom of movement. Gently place your worms on top of the
bedding. Leave the bin lid off for a while so the worms will burrow into the
bedding, away from the light. The worms will not try to crawl out of the bin if
there is light overhead. Once the worms have settled into their new home, add
food scraps that you have been collecting in a leak-proof container. Dig a hole
in the bedding (or pull the bedding aside), place the food scraps in the hole,
and cover it with at least an inch of bedding. After this first feeding, wait a
week before adding more food. Leave your worms alone during this time to allow
them to get used to their new surroundings. Bury food scraps in a different area
of the bin each time. Worms may be fed any time of the day. Do not worry if you
must leave for a few days, as the worms can be fed as seldom as once a week.
Note: Do not be surprised to see other creatures in your worm bin, as they help
break down the organic material. Most of the organisms will be too small to see,
but you may spot white worms, spring tails, pill bugs, molds, and mites.
Harvesting the Worms and Castings
After about six weeks, you will begin to see worm castings (soil-like material that has moved through the worms' digestive tracts). The castings can be used to boost plant growth. In three or four months, it will be time to harvest the castings. Mixed in with the castings will be partially decomposed bedding and food scraps, in addition to worms. This is called Vermicompost. You may harvest the Vermicompost by one of two methods:
Method 1: Place food scraps on only one side of your worm bin for several
weeks, and most of the worms will migrate to that side of the bin. Then you can
remove the Vermicompost from the other side of the bin where you have not been
adding food scraps, and add fresh bedding. Repeat this process on the other side
of the bin. After both sides are harvested, you can begin adding food scraps to
both sides of the bin again.
Method 2: Empty the contents of your worm bin onto a plastic sheet or
used shower curtain where there is strong sunlight or artificial light. Wait
20-30 minutes, then scrape off the top layer of Vermicompost. The worms will
keep moving away from the light, so you can scrape more compost off every 20
minutes or so. After several scrapings, you will find worms in clusters; just
pick up the worms and gently return them to the bin in fresh bedding.
Be on the lookout for worm eggs; they are lemon-shaped and about the size
of a match head, with a shiny appearance and light-brownish color. The eggs
contain between two and ten baby worms. Place the eggs back inside your bin so
they can hatch and thrive in your bin system.
You can either use your Vermicompost immediately or store it and use it
later. The material can be mulched or mixed into the soil in your garden and
around your trees and yard plants. You can also use it as a top dressing on
outdoor plants or sprinkle it on your lawn as a conditioner. For indoor plants,
you can mix Vermicompost with potting soil. For top dressing indoor plants, you
may want to remove decaying bedding and food scraps from the castings. Make sure
there are no worms or eggs in the castings, because conditions in a plant pot
will not allow them to survive. You can also make a "compost tea" to
feed to your plants. Simply add two tablespoons of Vermicompost to one quart of
water and allow it to steep for a day, mixing it occasionally. Water your plants
with this "tea" to help make nutrients in the soil available to the
The Vermicomposting Container
We offer several vermicomposting containers. Check
with us or your Applied
Bio Pest garden center retailer for
the current models and sizes. There are also some plans for constructing your
own home made composting unit. A guide to size of container in
Worms Eat My Garbage, Mary
Appelhof suggests weighing your household food waste for one week (in pounds),
and then provide one square foot of surface area per pound. 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.
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 i 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.
All worm bins need 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.
Common Problems And Solutions
The most common
problem is unpleasant, strong odors which are caused by lack of oxygen in the
compost due to overloading with food waste so that the food sits around too
long, and the bin contents become too wet. The solution is to stop adding food
waste until the worms and micro-organisms have broken down what food is in
there, and to gently stir up the entire contents to allow more air in. Check the
drainage holes to make sure they are not blocked. Drill more holes if necessary.
Worms will drown if their surroundings become too wet.
Worms have been known to crawl out of the bedding and onto the sides and
lid if conditions are wrong for them. If the moisture level seems alight, the
bedding may be too acidic. This can happen if you add a lot of citrus peels and
other acidic foods. Adjust by adding a little garden lime and cutting down on