Basic Instructions for Worm Composting
Basic things a worm community needs:
*a ph appropriate environment
*shelter from light
What to use for bedding:
*shredded or torn paper (not glossy)
*paper egg cartons
*fast food drink carriers
*empty paper towel and toilet paper rolls
*coconut coir (can be purchased online)
Bedding should be moist but not drenched, approximately like a rung out sponge. The food you add for the worms should have plenty of moisture to meet the worm’s needs once the bin is started, provided of course you feed your worms regularly. If the food doesn’t keep the bin moist enough add water as needed. A spray bottle can be good for this.
Bedding should be no more than 18 inches deep but 12 inches or less is recommended. I don’t fill my bin all at once with bedding. I leave room to add more layers. Depending on the moisture I add new bedding dry to keep the bin from getting to wet. Drier bedding on top can also help prevent fruit flies. Some people even use a piece of cardboard on top of the bedding to help control potential pest populations and to encourage the worms to eat all the way to the top of the bedding. A light outside the bin can help keep worms from wandering out in a new bin. If you have a lot of worms trying to escape there is probably bad conditions in the bin.
What to feed your worms:
*Fruit and vegetable scraps
*the worms will consume the bedding as well
*well crushed egg shells / I find them easiest to crush when dried / egg shells also help to maintain a bin’s ph
*coffee grounds & tea bags
*feed citrus and onions in moderation to avoid ph problems
I freeze my food and let it thaw before I feed it to the worms. It helps the food break down faster and also helps control potential fruit fly problems. Feed in pockets instead of spreading through out the entire bin so worms can move to other areas if one area is undesirable.
Worm bins don’t stink if fed properly! The worms eat the bacteria produced so there is no odor. A well maintained bin will smell like moist soil. If you have a rotten odor it can be caused by too much food for your worm population, bad ph, or an anaerobic condition (not enough oxygen).
What not to feed your worms:
*very oily foods
What types of worms to use:
*red wigglers, eisenia fetida, a.k.a. red worms, red trout worms, composting worms, red tiger worms
*European night crawlers, eisenia hortensis, a.k.a. jumbo reds,
*Do Not Use Canadian night crawlers, sold as “night crawlers” for bait. They are not good composting worms and will not do well in a worm bin.
Where to get your worms:
*bait shops, be sure they are red worms and not night crawlers
*pet stores (Parma Pets carries them year round)
*other people who worm compost and have extra
*craigslist or freecycle may have listings for them
Building a worm bin:
There are almost as many ways to build a worm bin as there are people who build them. There are basic one bin systems up to 5 tray systems available online. You can build it from wood, plastic or anything else you may have laying around, even terra cotta pots. As long as you have ventilation, drainage, protection from light and imagination you can make it work. Youtube.com has some examples.
**I am not a trained professional. Please try this at home.**