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Angela
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  • Lakewood, OH
  • United States
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Why do you vermicompost?
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Started this discussion. Last reply by Michael Jul 24, 2009.

Worm bin keeps heating up
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Started this discussion. Last reply by Angela Mar 12, 2009.

 

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When did you start composting with worms?
September 1, 2004
How were you introduced to vermicomposting?
I tried it a few years ago...now I'm back to it...even better!
What do your worms like to eat?
Anything I feed them
What kinds of worms do you have?
happy worms...red worms
What worm bins do you use?
Home made 18 gallon rubbermaid with one inch holes covered by screen, set in a second one to catch any seapage
How many pounds of garbage do your worms recycle each week?
I put about 1 cup of garbage in a day...just weighed it...a little ove 2 pounds a week. Now that fresh local produce season is here we are up to over 3 pounds a week.
About Me:
I'm a stay at home mom who makes home made baby food. I recycle but I just felt I could do more. I had worm composted about 5 years ago. Then for a while I was able to have an outdoor traditional compost bin. I don't have the space for that in the yard anymore. Worm composting seems like the right thing to do again. My skeptical husband has been now won over. He is stunned it doesn't stink! We keep the bin in our kitchen. If you need help finding worms in the Cleveland area I may be able to help. Also, if you need help making a bin I'd be happy to share my experience. I find it a very rewarding process.

Basic Instructions for Worm Composting

Basic things a worm community needs:
*bedding
*oxygen
*moisture
*a ph appropriate environment
*food
*shelter from light

What to use for bedding:
*shredded or torn paper (not glossy)
*cardboard pieces
*paper egg cartons
*fast food drink carriers
*empty paper towel and toilet paper rolls
*coconut coir (can be purchased online)
*leaves

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
*bread
*paper products
*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:
*meat
*dairy
*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:
*online
*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.**

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Comment Wall (29 comments)

At 10:07am on January 27, 2009, Yahya said…
hi, just got your message in my email. do you have any questions about it? emailing me directly is preferred: jpo1218@gmail.com
At 5:44pm on February 7, 2009, Karen Levet said…
Thank You for responding. I am in Westpark a few blocks from the Lakewood border and was wondering if you could assist me in setting up my bins and getting red worms. I saw your offer to help and thought it would be awesome. I was not sure what size to buy 20 or 30 gal. I saw some Rubbermaid type bins in Ollies at Great Northern and I was going to pick them up. What else do I need? I can not tell what is used for the vents and how do you keep the bins stacked inside one another, what do you use for a spacer? I have seen tons of ideas for bedding what do you suggest? I am just reading everything I can find right now.I can not wait to put my pin on the map.LOL
At 8:32pm on February 14, 2009, George said…
Hello Angela - I grew up in Westlake as well. My family moved here in 1968 and my wife was about year old when she moved here. ( We were both born in Lakewood about two blocks from each other. How weird is that? ) Yes there has been a lot of change.

As far as the turn-over in my bin I don't think I have any consistent information for you. This last batch went very quickly ( 4 weeks ) but it was also very warm and cozy in there because I was supplementing our table scraps with leaves from outside and Starbucks coffee grounds. Heat was actually a problem due to composting and at one point I thought I cooked'em. I mixed things up a lot and it cooled down to warm to the touch.

I'm also at a peak of worm quantity right now. Quantity seems to vary a lot depending upon how much food I put in and how well I've managed the environment. I've gone as long as 4-5 months without emptying the bin because their weren't enough worms to eat what I was putting in.

Every time I think I'm going to empty the bin on the right I poke around and find lots of worms. This means there's still finding food in what I think is finished product. They haven't migrated to the bin on the left yet. I guess they are just happy where they are.

I started filling my 5 gallon pail, when I have enough I will empty the bin on the right putting any worms into the pail temporarily. Then it starts all over. I stop putting food on the left (no room any way) and it will drop down as the water leaves and the food is consumed. The pail and new food will be put on the right and the little critters will migrate over to the right....well that's the way its been working.

Thanks for writing. I"m going to try your idea of freezing the food prior to putting it in the bin. My wife has not bought in on this idea yet. I'll keep working on her!
At 11:33am on June 23, 2009, Michael said…
Hi there, I just came across this website this morning, I decided a couple days ago to start a vermicomposting bin and I have gotten it started. I am having trouble finding enough bedding though, one news paper after being cut down without color images seems to take forever, I am going to look into other sources like leaves, but any suggestions would be much helpful :)
At 4:04pm on June 23, 2009, Michael said…
Hi Again :) I went through newspapers about an hour ago, and dug up some dry leaves around my yard to put in. I have just about the bottom covered around 2 inches deep maybe? I think I can get the rest together, I wasn't aware you could use colored newspaper(nonshiny), I read on SoYouWanna.com that its not good because the colored paper has toxins in it. But as long as it will be okay I will definitely use it.

This afternoon when I opened, prior to taking those pictures, the worms had crawled out through the bottom, some were even on the lid. I did put a layer of black weed preventer cloth at the bottom of the box, because I did have a screen, but figured it would be ok. So I put the screen underneath anyways for now. I do have about 20 holes in the bottom of the tub, but nothing on the sides or top. I seen you have circular holes with a kind of mesh? Do those work good?

After I took those pics I crushed up a clean egg shell and a few sprinkles of coffee grounds, figureing they were hungry and looking for food else where. I just took a look now, and they are all under the newspaper, no straglers. Thank you for your help, It's greatly appreciated :)
At 12:11pm on June 24, 2009, Michael said…
Hi Angela, Hope your having a good day. I arrived home and checked on my bin, fearing the worms wouldn't have had enough ventilation... but they were all beneath their bedding, no attack of the worms this time :-P. I'm definitely going to try your hole/screen/hot glue technique. I do have spare screen that I can use, just wonder how you drilled such perfectly circular holes?

Overnight I was thinking of a couple things that I thought might be able to go into the bin but wasn't sure.... Corn Cobs/Corn Husks, Toast(w/o butter n jam) Green Pepper Seeds and top, Cooked Pasta... and a couple more but can't remember them at the moment.

Other than that, I think my bin is on it's way... It doesn't smell at all yet, and I have put in Coffee Grounds, 3 Eggshells, and 1 Chopped up banana peel so far. The Screen at the bottom seems to keep the worms in, but its only a temporary solution. The Screen I bought came from wal-mart, its a sliding screen for windows that need it(Its on outside underneath of bin) - I also saw rolled up screen at wal-mart, but I'm wondering which works better? Just don't want them ever escaping again lol. Talk to you soon, and thank you again for your help :)
At 6:15pm on June 28, 2009, Michael said…
Hi Angela, been a couple days - can't believe all the recent celebrity deaths, crazy huh? Hope your doing fine, I managed to get holes in my bin finally lol. I took a power drill and carved out circles, then I found these old tea strainers and fit them into the bin... gives kind of a dome feel to it, hoping the worms travel up and check them out :-P

I am noticing a little bit of a smell, it's not so much trash smell, its more like damp old paper... which is in there obviously lol, but is there a way to help that odor? It's not bothersome until the lid is off.

I'm still hesitant on exactly what to put in the bin lol, I tend to go safely - like tonight, cut up potato peels, coffee grounds and a crushed egg shell. I don't eat at home often but when I do I set aside a pile, but I do eat out a lot. Would that kind of stuff be safe to put in? Hamburger/Chicken buns, fry's, I often get sausage egg and cheese sandwiches... Egg n bread? I'm also looking into getting some worms, seeing as I only have 100 lol, I checked a few sites but prices are kinda high, do you know anyplace that would have lower prices or even possibly free?
At 9:46pm on June 30, 2009, Michael said…
Hi Angela, sorry to double post but I'm a little worried. I opened the lid to my bin tonight, and I noticed there's a 4x6in growth of some sort... It's white, very hard to describe but cotton candy/dog hair type texture, and I could still see the bedding through it.... Is this bad?? Gosh I hope not, I just purchased 1/2 pound of worms today. Please let me know....
At 9:33am on July 3, 2009, Michael said…
Hi Angela,

I was very worried about that mold, but I will definitely check it out today, bury it and put some fresh bedding over the top. I think i'm actually going to move my bin from the basement to the dining room where it will get more air flow. That page you sent me, it also says things about centipedes/millipedes... please say you don't have these regularly in your bin. So Gross, I just killed one last night in my bathroom. LOL :-P

I ended up purchasing 1/2pound of Red Worms for $24 delivered. I was going to get a whole pound($32), but thought they might mate and make more... hopefully i didn't buy too many lol. Would definitely love to see your bin now, take your time and enjoy your 4th of July. Congrats on the new arrival due in Nov. :) Talk to you soon. P.S. Thank you for getting back to me about this, I truly appreciate it ;)
At 4:36pm on July 3, 2009, Michael said…
Hi Angela, I got lucky and my worms came today. I cut up watermelon rinds and crushed eggshells, then tore up some new newspaper bedding. Under the worms and bedding, I had had a black tarp/cloth type deal across the bottom, but a few worms had gotten out before and I needed something more secure n stable. So I got a friend to help me lift up everything in my bin via cloth, put it to the side,Then I cut up the screen and hot glued it in. Added some dry bedding to the bottom, then put the contents back in but also getting rid of the black tarp. *Phew!* A lot of work but worth it, I think my bins construction is pretty much done. I put the new worms in and then covered them with bedding, and put the watermelon n eggs in. Oh I buried the mold too... yucky yucky.

Very shocked my worms came today, they were shipped out Wednesday. They said 1/4 pound has anywhere from 300-750 worms. I think it'll be enough for my bin for now. Let them adapt and start growing babies. I was reading on here if you take a toilet paper tube and put hair in it they will be more inclined to lay eggs there and mate. So might try that. Do you think animal hair would be good to put in just to put in? (I've got three dogs)

I don't think I've ever asked you, but what do you use your finished compost for? I'm hoping to use it around my houseplants and lawn/bushes. As well as help the environment lol. If I don't catch ya before tomorrow, hope you have a very happy fourth! Ttys.

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