Thursday, March 15, 2012


Vermicomposting is one of the easiest methods to acquire compost for gardens or potted plants. Of course the trick is to create enough compost to properly feed a garden so that no chemical fertilizer is needed. The basics of vermicomposting are as follows;
1. Dark container to hold worms
2. Bedding material for the worms to live in initially
3. Red Wiggler Worms

First, the container to hold the worms can be anything that allows oxygen in, keeps the temperature between ~50-80 degrees, and is easy to add scraps to. Plastic totes can be used with lids if holes are drilled into the top of the container. I recommend 1/16th inch holes every four to five inches around the top portion of the tote or lid. If the holes are much bigger then the larger worms will escape. The worms will stay in the tote with no issues as long as moisture content is regulated and there is food for them. Check the tote every so often for moisture by either digging into the bedding or looking at the lid if its kept on. When the worms are gathering on the sides of the container, there is either too much moisture in the bedding or no moisture and they want out. Most of the time with enclosed containers, the food added has more than enough moisture to keep them satisfied.

Second, bedding material can be most any organic material you have available. One of the best things to use is junk mail and sensitive paper documents that need to be shredded. DO NOT USE plastic or glossy paper like magazine pages. These items either are poisonous to the worms or will take up space because they can't eat it. To start the bed with paper, tear the paper up and then wet it but do not soak it. Put the paper in the tote and add worms. Only about 1/4th to 1/3rd of the container needs to have paper to start which depends on the amount of worms you get. Also do not mat the paper together because it will be harder for them to wiggle into it. Remember, they like it dark.

Some people like to add a little dirt mixed into the paper so the worms can wiggle around a little easier but its not necessary. They will do just fine with the paper. Add food as needed so the worms can transform it into castings (poo). The castings are what is used as fertilizer. Some people use it to make "tea" which is castings soaked in water so the nutrients leach out into the water. The castings tea is then poured into potted plants as a natural fertilizer. Unlike chemical fertilizers, it won't burn the plants any.

Third, red wigglers are used because of their reproduction rates and because they are home bodies. Most of the time they will stay in the container as long as the conditions are good. Some like to wonder but that is why the holes should be tiny to keep most of them in. Red wigglers can be found either online or locally. Sometimes the local sources may be out of stock but I have noticed they are cheaper. Be careful about buying red wiggler feeder worms from pet stores. I have not found them to reproduce as rapidly as others. Could just be the batch I have though.

Well, that's all I can think of writing off the top of my head. If you have any questions, post them here and I'll address them.

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