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Worm Composting Secrets Revealed!
Welcome to our complete guide to worm composting. Here we discuss everything about how to make worm castings with red wiggler worms!
At last the secrets of worm composting are revealed in this amazing complete guide!
Discover everything you need to know about how to create an amazing soil amendment to enhance the growth of any yard or garden plant organically grown in your landscape by worm composting.
This soil amendment that you create even works great on your house plants too.
Composting with worms at home is is where it all begins.
This is the easiest most effective form of a composting system available today.
A worm composting system can be set up on a shoestring budget and over time can be very rewarding to anyone who loves to grow plants.
This simple process can be used indoors by apartment dwellers and home owners alike who have some excess kitchen food scraps and paper products to get rid of.
Worm composting can be especially popular with most vegans that consume a lot of vegetables and have a large amounts of vegetable scraps and juicer pulp to dispose of.
Most people keep these worm composting bins indoors in a controlled environment right in their kitchens close by for easy access but they can also be placed in a spare room, a closet or a basement.
Many others place their bins of composting worms outside in their garage. This is fine but be sure to keep predators away from them.
Stray animals get hungry and they would not mind feasting on your worms for a gourmet high protein meal.
Worm composting temperatures should always be controlled to the best of your ability at an average between a low of around 5o degrees to about 80 degrees give or take a few degrees for best results.
Temperature variations outside of this may possibly harm or even kill your worms if not prepared for in advance.
Over time these composting bins get heavy and extremely hard to move.
I noticed now with our huge temperature swings taking place with freezing temperatures moving in throughout the country, those keeping the worms outdoors are now trying to find an easy way to move them back indoors.
Plan your worm composting adventure for an area you won’t have to disturb them very often because they do their best work when they are left alone.
I recommend keeping them indoors from the beginning to avoid these issues like these later in the process.
With all that out of the way, lets dive in!
The 5 Simple Steps Of The Worm Composting Process
- Acquire a worm composting bin or a worm composting bag.
- Place desired worm bedding into the bin and prepare it.
- Place the composting worms into their new home.
- Start your feeding process and monitor your moisture levels.
- After a few months harvest your worm castings to amend the soil for your plants.
Are You Confused about Worm Composting?
Don’t be I will break it all down for you completely in the rest of the the article below so be sure to read this article to the end.
Worm Composting Bins
Worm composting bins come in many forms, shapes and sizes.
These worm composting bins can be made of wood metal or from plastic
They can get very expensive or be very inexpensive. It is all in what you want to spend and which type best suits your needs.
Metal and wood bins are best for outdoor use where you can set them up once and not have to move them if you live in a suitable climate.
Recently I’ve seen many people that have started to panic who have these bins outdoors because of the unstable weather and climate shifts we have now where it freezes were it did not before . Be aware of this issue and make wise decisions when planning your future worm farm.
In this article we are covering the indoor worm composting but most of the feeding information here applies to all.
List Of The Best Worm Composting Bins For Indoor Use
Worm Condos / Towers – This is a multi Level worm bin system with multiple trays and a drain tray at the bottom.
This type worm composting system have been very popular over the years and now have a lot of companies making them which reduces the cost.
This type of worm composting system is great for small living areas.
If you are interested in this multi level system check this worm factory 360 worm composting bin starter kit on eBay which comes with everything you need to get started raising worms. Composting worms sold separately.
Worm Composting Bags – Worm composting bags are a one step
worm bin made with heavy grade canvas or parachute type material which you place a bedding material in and feed the worms on top.
Over time the worm castings flow through and drop to the bottom of the bag for easy access
.Worm bags are also known are know as flow through worm bins.
Worm Bags are fairly new to the industry but quickly taking holds and becoming very popular.
Click the image in the upper right for details or to to purchase one of the most popular indoor worm composting bins which comes with worms on sale now!
Plastic Tote Worm Bins – Plastic tote worm bins are very popular to the beginner worm farmer who just does not want to spend a bundle starting out.
This worm composting bin d.i.y system is very inexpensive and provide plenty of surface area for your worms migrate around inside and be very happy.
This type of bin needs to be prepared for the worms to live in prior to adding bedding and the worms to it.
Listed above are the most popular Indoor worm composting systems.
For a great all around bin be sure to visit our post by clicking on the image on the left to get easy step by step instructions to create your own low cost living D.I.Y worm farm.
Worm bins can also be built of of wood, They are great for raising worms in but can become extremely heavy to move when filled with worms and castings.
As mentioned above wood bins are much better used as an outdoor worm farm were you need a large area to grow in without moving them.
People also use 5 gallon buckets for to raise their worms and this is alright too, But keep in mind the composting worms will not likely breed to create a large herd in such a small surface area. You need as large of surface area as you can get if you have the space for it to allow for ample breeding.
The more breeding means more worms to produce more worm castings for your garden plants to thrive on!
Now that you have pondered over the type of worm composting bin you might want to use it comes time for the worm bedding.
this section is where you learn about the free methods.
The bedding is what your worms will be living in. This can be as complex or simple as you want to make it.
When I first started raising worms over 10 years ago, I used this simple approach and it always worked well.
The worm bedding serves 2 purposes, it gives the worms a place to live and feel safe.
The bedding also acts as a food supply when the food levels get low.
The First thing you will need in your worm composting bin is some soil type of bedding for the worms to live in.
Some people use coco choir and some use peat moss. I used the peat moss myself when starting out because the worms tend to like it better.
You will need to add a couple inches of this into the bottom of your worm composting bin for the worms to live in. Wet it completely and them squeeze as much moisture out as you can until it is damp. Place it into the bottom of the worm composting bin.
At this point you may sprinkle a fine layer of garden dirt or coffee grounds over the bedding that you have just added so the worms can get a digestive aid for their gizzard.
Next we will add some paper to the bin over the soil bedding. You can find more details on this in the advanced section below.
If you are using the plastic tote worm composting bin , just shred or tear in strips regular old newspaper and mix in some shredded toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls.
Why buy worm composting supplies like the bedding when you have all that you need right there around your house to get started and maintain your project!
I just used the advertising circulars I get in the mail and I have never ran out of bedding yet.
You can also use shredded junk mail from your mailbox but avoid windowed envelopes and glossy photo paper.
Use some regular card board boxes cut in small pieces into the mix as well with all shipping labels removed.
Add a few on inches of this paper/cardboard mix into your bin and spray it down well with water until damp but not soggy wet.
Fluff it up to be sure the mix is all damp as you spray it. You will want at least 3 inches of damp newspaper mix in your bin.
I noticed early on that the shredded newspaper mix tends to keep the worms from trying to get out of your worm composting bin. Red wiggler worms love to migrate and the shredded paper gives them a way to migrate throughout the worm composting bin.
Add a handful of clan dirt to the paper mix and moisten with a spray bottle. You can also add a hand full or two of some crushed leaves and dried grass clippings to this mix as well.
When using leaves and grass clippings be sure and get them from somewhere than people are not spraying or using harsh pesticides and herbicides or strong fertilizers on them. These chemicals can be harmful to your worms.
Advanced (Paid) Worm Bedding Methods
Adding other ingredients to the worm bedding is also an option.
The coco choir is recommended by many as a good bedding for worms.
I have never used it due to the fact that much of it you buy has a high salt content which comes from growing on ocean side beaches. High salt content would be very bad or even deadly to the worms. If you want to use this make sure that it is a quality low salt product.
Peat moss can be used as a bedding under your shredded paper and cardboard mix described above, but to be honest my worms had avoided the peat moss and never fed on it or tunneled through it much.
The peat just served as a buffer between their living area and the bottom of the bin.
Finished compost is another option for indoor use and the worms like this one best of all because they are actually getting what they were intended to live in.
I have witnessed an actual feeding frenzy when I started using the finished compost made on site as a bedding under the shredded paper mix. The worms like this type bedding best of all.
If you are already composting without chemical additives this is the best option to use in your worms home.
Your Worm bedding will be ready to use in about a week after some bacteria starts to form in it.
You can order your worms anytime after this period.
There are literally dozens of different worm breeds for sale out here.
The worms all eat organic matter and produce compost but serve different purposes. Some worm breeds are much better at composting while others are better for fishing bait.
For Indoor worm composting you will need the Red Wiggler Composting Worms (Eisenia fetida).
The worm species by popular names include some of the following:
- Red Wigglers
- Red worms
- Manure worms
- Tiger Worms
- Branding Worms
The worms listed above all good composting worms and will work fine in your indoor composting system.
These worms can be purchased many places online but I recommend you buy from a worm grower/supplier and not a re-seller on the big market places or the big box stores.
If you need worm farm sources to buy composting worms from feel free to visit our post are worm farms near me for details.
In a recent worm composting experiment, I have discovered some new things about these little composting worms and how fast they can multiply. If you are interested you can visit the worm composting experiment post here to get more important information about raising red wigglers composting worms.
What Do Worms Eat?
Now it time to talk about what to feed your worms. We already know that the bedding serves as a food source but they will need a little more than that.
Composting worms are the best at recycling, not only do they eat excess paper waste but also eat your left over food scraps.
Worms in the wild eat the bacteria produced from decomposing vegetable and animal matter laying on the ground in turn producing the worm castings creating new soil that keeps the earth fertilized.
They have to wait for the materials to start decomposing before they can eat it. The worms don’t take bites or chew they operate like little vacuums sucking the soft material in.
Please keep this in mind before piling large quantities and pieces of vegetable scraps into your worm composting bin.
Over feeding can create problems for your worms and the worm composting bin system.
For A highly recommended worm composting book that can greatly help you with feeding and maintaining your worm bin system click the banner on the right to purchase “Worms Eat My Garbage” now.
What To Feed Your Worms
- Add vegetable and fruit scraps seen below to during feeding process. It is best to let the decomposing process to begin and the worms will eat them much faster. Add the scraps to the bin and cover completely with damp shredded newspaper to avoid smell and unwanted pests.
- Fruit Scraps except high acidic fruits.
- Apples – remove the stem and seeds.
- Shredded Sweet Potato.
- Potato Peels -rinse potato peel well before using
- Cabbage – small amounts diced up or shredded in small pieces to avoid odors.
- Tomatoes – remove the seeds.
- Carrots – shred the carrots to speed up the decomposing process.
- Greens off the tops of your vegetables.
- Celery – cut up.
- Corn cobs – They go crazy over corn cobs. boil without spices then remove the corn and add the cobs to your bin
- .Corn husks – do not add if you used pesticides during growing season
- Melons -without the seeds or rind.
- Avocado – without the seed and Rind.
- Pea & Bean Hulls from shelling your peas and beans.
- Coffee Grounds and Filters – moderate amounts of grounds at a time.
- Tea bags -remove the tag and staples,I just use the spent tea inside and compost the rest outdoors.
- Garden Scraps – anything you prune from your garden plants except tomato plants they are toxic. I usually compost them in a pile outdoors first to start the bacterial process.
- Pulverized cured eggshells, Pulverize to a powder before feeding.
- Shredded phone book pages.
- Shredded Newspaper.
- Shredded Junk Mail – less the widowed envelopes and glossy paper.
- Shredded Cardboard – paper towel rolls and toilet paper rolls.
- Hair Trimmings – small amounts they don’t work through hair very fast.
- Any cooked vegetable without seasoning.
- Juicer pulp.
- Finished compost from a compost pile.
- Dried grass clippings.
What Not To Feed Your Worms
- Citrus – Orange, Lemon, Grapefruit, Lime all contain acids that can harm your worms.
- Milk and Dairy products – these products will bring unwanted pests to your bin and not a good idea to use them indoors.
- Manure – manure is best used in outdoor bins, It may bring unwanted pests inside your home.
- Melon rinds – the worms do not eat the rinds they don’t decompose well.
- Seeds – seeds don’t decompose and the worms don’t eat them but they will sprout in your worm bin.
- Bread – Worms don’t care for most breads, They just lay in the bin and mold.
- Spices – don’t feed anything to your worms that has spices on it.
- Fried Food – Don’t feed your worms anything greasy, keep grease and oils out of the bin.
Harvesting Worm Castings
When It comes to getting your castings separated from the worms there are literally dozens of ways to do this part of the process.
The way you choose to harvest is totally up to you, whatever fits your schedule the best is normally the right way for most.
I am going to explain the process which I use that has served me well for many years for now.
Just starting out when learning how to harvest worm castings you may start out by using a screen with some ⅛” holes, like this seen in the picture .
This can be made extremely easy by taking a trip to your local hardware store buying a piece of screen and some other materials for putting a frame together to secure it that will be large enough to rest on top of your worm bin.
If you have an ole terrarium lid laying around you could just use a top off an old 10 gallon terrarium like I have..
Harvesting worm castings on a screen seems to work very well for me, by placing the worm compost on the screen under a light for about 15 minutes which lets the smallest worms go down away from the light escaping through the screen back into the bin.
The larger worms will huddle up in a group in the pile of castings making them very easy to remove while breaking the moist castings down with a tool.
You will want to take a gardening tool, a large plastic hair picK of something similar and gently move the worm castings around lightly breaking up any clods within it to expose the worms that are in them which you will remove to another holding container of your choice.
I use a plastic shoe box sized storage container with holes drilled in the lid as a starter worm bin for the worms which I removed to later add them into a permanent worm composting bin after the worm harvesting process is over.
This is a perfect time to start a new worm bin and expand your worm farm.
After the worms are removed then it is time to put the castings you have collected into another separate holding bin so they can cure.
The curing process takes between 20 to 30 days to complete which allows other composting insects to leave the castings and also allows for any worm cocoons to hatch.
After the curing time the castings would be ready for use if needed.
I always take a few minutes sift the worm castings a second time through a 1/4″ screen to catch any worms from the cocoons that have hatched and add the worms back into an existing worm farm, but this is not necessary for the worms will survive in your garden beds.
As your worm farms grow you may want to consider other techniques and other equipment to speed up the process.
With a little time and some practice you can process a pretty large amount of worm castings in a few hours in time utilizing the very process described above.
It seems that you may have enough information here to start your first successful worm composting bin and feed you worms for many months. we have even added how to harvest worm castings and cure them for use.
Just remember to change up occasionally what you feeding regularly and don’t pile your worm bin full of food scraps at one time. over feeding leads to many unwanted problems.
When Experimenting with different food sources to feed the worms just place a small amount in an area of the bin away from your normal feeding areas to see if the worms go after it.
The worms have a way of avoiding food that is not good for them as a rule.
Try to give them something a little different each time you feed.
Diversity is the key that is makes the best worm castings that grow beautiful healthy yard and garden plants of all kinds. Get Started today!
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