vermicompost-with-worms

Vermicompost Worms
Vermicompost Worms

     

          * What is Worm Composting?

Vermiculture or vermicomposting is the use of worms to compost waste. Usually fruit, veggie and paper scraps. This can be done in a bin, pile or windrow. The finished product called castings (worm poop) can then be used as organic fertilizer Read More

for gardens and plants. 

Worm farming is the ultimate way to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, all in one process. The worms reduce waste, you reuse materials when you make the bin or provide them with bedding and the recycling is done by the worms turning waste into usable organic fertilzer.

 

How do you get started?

STEP 1: Learn a bit about worm composting from different sources (You tube / Google articles etc.) Next read and learn about the worms. Red Wiggler worms are the preferred worm for bin composting. Some people do use nightcrawlers for composting but they are not used like the reds.

STEP 2: The next item of business is building your worm bin. You can choose between a simple plastic tote bin, a wood bin, a retail unit or use a worm windrow. The choice is yours.

STEP 3: Next you must think about worm food, bedding, maintaining a bin then harvesting the worms. More info we have put in below article (Just learn everything needed).

Still confused about deciding between Worm bin or a traditional compost pile? (We have put an article on pro’s and Con’s to help you decide).

 

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            * Vermicomposting Vermicomposting is a fancy word for worm composting. Composting with worms is fun and easier than you might think.Read More
You can likely make a worm bin with items you have in your garage. There are only a few simple rules you must follow when building a compost bin for worms. #1 The bin or worm box should be opaque not transluscent. Although, I have heard of people using clear containers, the worms do prefer a dark environment and will eat and reproduce better in the dark. homemade worm bin#2 The bin must have air holes. As food decomposes, it heats and gases are released. The heat and excess gasses need to escape or you will have dead earthworms. Not to mention, it will be very stinky due to it being anearobic. The size/amount is not important. It must simply have some airholes around the top of the bin. #3 The bin must be the right size for your worms. Worms eat and breed better when they have space. They prefer about one square foot of space per pound of red wigglers. Roughly one pound of worms will do well in a 18 gallon plastic tote. Now you are ready to build your bin. When you have that completed, next you will be ready to learn about the next few important things: and then worm bedding, worm food and then worm harvesting. Nope, you can’t just throw some worms in a bucket with some kitchen scraps and expect them to go after it. Well, you could but it would not be a success. Getting the bin right is the first step in successful worm bin composting.
            * Worm Composting for Kids Worm Composting for kids can be fun and educational at the same time. Read More
We always looks for ways to incorporate their daily activities into learning. So turning our favorite hobby into education has been a win/win for us. Learn how to build our very own homemade worm bin here. Vermicomposting teaches children the full cycle of life. How kitchen scraps turn into worm food, then the worms turn it into fertilizer which when then use on our gardens to nourish our food. Want to make a yummy treat for the kids? How about dirt cake with gummy worms. My kids and neighbors kids thought this was the best thing EVER. Are you a homeschool mom or school teacher looking for a science curriculum where you can teach your students about worms? Worms are very interesting, [In Next article we are sharing some fun facts about earthworms] A word of caution: Kids plus worms can equal DISASTER. Remember, worms prefer to be left alone. So if you have a “hands on” child who likes to touch everything, then they should be provided with their own mini worm farm for handling. The worms that are over handled, will die.
                  * Looking for some fun Earthworm Facts? You came to the right place.                                                                             Did you know? 1. There are over 2000 species of earthworms worldwide.Read More
Some well known are: eisenia foetida (favorites for worm bin composting of course), Lumbricus and nightcrawlers. 2.They do not have eyes but have light sensitive cells. They are also sensitive to touch/vibration. 3. Their bodies consist of a digestive system, a circulatory system (with about 5 hearts), two pair of testes, 2-4 pairs of semenal vessels, ovaries and ovipores. And yes, they have a head and a tail. 4.They are the largest members of the oligochaeta in the phylum Annelida. They are also sometimes called Megadries (big worms). 5. They are hemaphrodites, having both male and female reproductive organs. 6. Some species can survive for days in water. 7. They have setae which are tiny bristles which allow them to attach themselves in a certain spot in the ground. Makes it harder for birds to snatch them up! 8. Most are burrowers, foraging deep into the ground for food. Yet others are top dwellers and are well suited for bin type composting. (HINT: they are red) 9. The burrowing action helps to aerate the soil (add oxygen) and their castings (poop) provide the soil with nutriets along their journey. 10. They are primarily vegetarians, they prefer dead organic matter as food. Like mulch, leaves, veggie scraps. But will also dine on cardboard or newspaper or even drier lint. 11. There is a species of earth worm that grows to over 8 feet long and there are species that are less than 1″ long.
            * 3 Rights of Worm Composting The 3 rights of worm composting are the right temperature, the right moisture and the right food.Read More

The Right Temperature

The RIGHT TEMP for red wiggler worms (eisenia foetida)are between 40-90 degrees , optimal is 70-80 degrees. Some protection from cold and heat will be necessary to keep worms alive and in working order.All that being said, worms will survive in temps below freezing and temps above 90. Heck, I live in Texas and we see weeks of 100 degree weather. BUT you must keep the bin temps between 40-90 and it is doable.

The Right Moisture

The RIGHT MOISTURE is around 80%. Some describe it as moist, some say like a wrung out sponge. I describe it as wet but not dripping. When you reach in and touch the bedding you should have moisture and debris on your hand. And if you pick up a handful of bedding and squeeze a few drops of water should drip out.

The Right Food

The third right is the RIGHT FOOD. Along with the right food is the right WAY to feed. Remember not only the proper food stock but only feed when all food is gone. Always ere on the side of underfeeding rather than overfeeding. 
            * 3 Wrongs of Worm Composting The 3 wrongs of worm composting, how to avoid the 3 most common pitfalls. What are they? Read More
Overfeeding, Overwatering and Overstimulating.

Overwatering

OVERWATERING. If you will be feeding fruit and veggie scraps to your worms, you will RARELY need to add water for moisture. The scraps will provide all the moisture necessary in most cases. Water your bin with a toiletry sprayer, not a garden watering can. Remember worms like it moist but they cannot swim.

Overfeeding

OVERFEEDING is simple to understand – giving the worms too much food. I recommend two basic feeding principles. 1. When starting a new bin, start feeding 1/4 of worms weight. Most people suggest feeding their weight. Yes, maybe later but not at the beginning. Let them get used to their new home. So if you have a pound of worms start with 1/4 pound of feed. 2. Feed again ONLY when all food is gone. I say this over and over because it is a very common newbie mistake. If the bin stinks, or smells sour, you have overfed. What do you do? Add more bedding and do not feed until all food is gone, this can take weeks sometimes.

Overstimulating

OVERSTIMULATING. We the people are the worms worst nightmare. We just cannot seem to leave them alone. The oils on your hands can suffocate them, your frequent peeks and disturbing the bedding will do two major things: reduce breeding (yes even worms like privacy, lol) and reduce feeding. They simply like to be left alone. So resist the urge to mess with them too much. Try to keep feeds/checks to once per week or less.
            * Vermicomposting : Great Science project topic If you are looking forward to the yearly science fair topics for your kiddos. Read More
Vermicomposting can be that very much interesting topic, which you are looking for. And you will be at least “active” participant, right?
Whether your child is in Kindergarten, 3rd grade or 8th grade: these hypothesis would work. You can make it as detailed or as simple as you need.
Here are some ideas for science fair projects involving worm composting. 1. Worm Castings vs. Chemical fertilizer: effect on growth rate(this one is a great way to incorporate plants into your project, we started from seeds with ours) 2. How much waste does a pound of worms consume per day/week/month/year?3. Does density of food waste effect daily consumption by worms? (ie lettuce vs. carrots) 4. Do red worms prefer manure or yard waste? 5. What bedding is the best for red wiggler worms? 6. Do red worms prefer a wood bin or a plastic bin? 7. Do nightcrawlers or red wigglers compost more produce? 8. Which composts faster? A compost pile or worm bin? 9. Which nourishes plants more: worm tea or castings as a broadcast application? 10. Acidic foods vs non acidic foods (citrus/tomatoes vs melon/banana). Do worms prefer one food over other? Do they make better castings with a certain type food. 11. Peat Moss vs. coconut coir as worm bedding. Which one is more hydroponic? Which one do worms consume faster? 12. Will seeds germinate faster in worm castings or in store bought potting soil? 13. Do worms really prefer a dark environment? What do they do when they are exposed to light? 14. Can worms survive in water? 15. What breed of worm is best suited for your climate? Can you think of any more ideas? We would love to post them here, email us if you have ideas to contribute.
            *Raising Red Worms Raising Red Worms or starting a worm farm can be fun. But is it easy? Read More
Not really. A question that is frequently raised, ” Can’t we just throw some worms in a bucket with some food scraps and some dirt, they are worms ya know?” NOPE! Keep reading………  The first item of business is making the worms a home or or worm bin.  Yes, they are “just” worms, but having a successful worm composting bin can be a little tricky. Not rocket science but tricky. Getting the worm environment right is critical. From what worm bin bedding to which food and worms are best. We am here to help. Ask any worm farmer how they did at the beginning and most will admit they “killed” a few worms before figuring it all out. There are several things you must get right. We call them the 3 rights of worm composting. red wormsTemperature, Moisture and Food. Once you have done everything right for 60-90 days it is time to harvest your castings. In addition to these 3 rights you must also consider: the worm composting bin, the worm, the worm bedding and finally the proper worm harvesting method. There are also 3 wrongs of Worm Composting to consider: overfeeding, over watering and overstimulating. Learn the how to’s on all the above subjects right here. Building a worm farm has never been made more simple.
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                      * Worm Composting Bins Worm Composting Bins come in a variety of shapes and sizes.Read More
You can build your own homemade wormbin from items you may have lying around. It can be free or you can spend as little as $3-5 to make a homemade bin. You can use a 5 gallon bucket, an 18 gallon tote, an old trashcan, fridge or freezer, you get the idea.  You can make a bin out of wood. Some even choose to make a homemade flow through bin out of a 55 gallon drum/barrel or a large trash can. If you are interested in larger scale worm composting you might consider a worm composting windrow. Or perhaps you are not the handy or frugal type, you can purchase a retail unit. Like a canoworms composter. No matter what you decide on, there are certain criteria any vermicomposting container must meet:
  • must be free from harmful chemicals (such as treated lumber or a 55 gallon drum that was used to store oil or chemicals)
  • have proper ventilation/aeration
  • must be fully enclosed (lid and bottom) to protect from weather and predators
  • be manageable year round
                    *Composting Basics This article will discuss Composting Basics. Although I strongly prefer worm composting, there are other methods that appeal to many people. Such as: traditional pile, bokashi and trenching. Read More
first start with vermicomposting, using worms to compost is odor free and not space prohibitive. Browse all through this website for more information on worm composting. Traditional piles have their advantages – for example – a pile can process a lot of materials but there are also challenges: need for increased space, critters (like possums/rats) and odors. When you are doing a traditional pile type, you must have the guidelines to be successful. Bokashi is a method that uses a yogurt like culture to process your scraps. An advantage of this method is that you can process almost all items, even meat and dairy. Trench Composting is a super simple method of digging a hole or trench and burying your scraps. A big down side to this is time and dogs. It takes a while for the scraps to break down AND dogs will dig up the goodies if you don’t bury them deep enough. What is the Best Compost Bin? Hope this article helps you decide which composting method is right for you. One more thing you need is a kitchen compost pail . We tried operating out of plastic bags to collect the scraps and it gets really nasty. A collection pail will make your live easier, trust us. Once you decide which composting method is right for you, it is time to build a bin . All you have left to do is start making COMPOST!
            *Maintaining a Worm bin Many people to great getting started with a worm composting container, then the new wears offRead More
and the bin/worms get neglected. Sometimes it is not neglect, it is little mistakes. But either way it can lead to dead worms which are stinky AND a waste of your money. In a nutshell –
  • Keep the bin moist (but not dripping wet)
  • Feed only when ALL food is gone
  • Keep temps between 40-90 degrees
And when you have succeeded at the above for 90 days then harvest your bin for castings and do a check to see if you need to split bins or share worms.
            *Red Worms Red Worms are considered to be the best choice for bin composting.Read More
 Also known as manure worms, red wigglers, red wriglers, e.foetida, eisenia foetida, tigers and composting worms. Talk about having some nicknames! Why are these e.foetida the preferred for composting? Several reasons:
  • they adapt to bins well and do not try to escape(unless bin conditions are horrible)
  • they are top feeders making feeding easy; unlike nightcrawlers who are burrowers
  • they out eat many other breeds
  • they survive in a wider range of temps than other breeds
In other words, they are user friendly and good bang for your buck. A full grown e.foetida ranges from 2″long to 5″ inches long. They are on the smaller side of the wormbreeds. We call them petite worms. We still think nightcrawlers are nasty, yet our petites are easy for us to handle bare handed!… Sometimes, you can find them for free at a local farm in their manure pile. It may take you a month to gather a pound of worms- but it is a free alternative to buying them. The going rate for a pound is around $25/pound. Our suggestion is to find a local supplier to save on shipping. But if you need to buy and have them shipped, buy from us!  What about just wrangling up some worms from the yard and putting them in a bin? Wish. If this was the case but native worms are not suited for bin environments. They are burrowers and will escape or die if you put them in a bin.
            *Top 10 Steps to Starting a Worm Farm Starting a worm farm is fun and simple, really!Read More
You can go from discovery to implementation in just a few days. Most people consider worm farming because they want to reduce waste, so lets talk about some simple steps you can take to make it possible.

                                                                                      Step 1

Prepare for the task. How do you prepare for vermicomposting? Read up, watch videos, take a class. You can do all of the above right here on this website. We have over 150 pages of wormy content, videos, an online class too. Or you can take a local class and read one or both of these books:  

Step 2

Order your worms – Find a local supplier if possible, that way your worms are adjusted to your local climate. Red Wiggler worms are the worm of choice for bin composting. A good starter amount is 1 pound or many suppliers. One pound will compost the scraps for a family of 2.While you are waiting on your worms to arrive: complete the next two steps (before the worms get to you)

Step 3

Make a bin. In the spirit of reducing- it is preferable to make a bin out of materials you are not using: maybe a 5 gallon bucket or an 18 gallon tote. Even a wooden crate or old fridge will work. It just needs to be opaque (not transluscent) AND have air holesOr buy one that is ready to go:  

Step 4

Prepare you bedding. A good starter mix is 1/2 peat moss or cococoir and 1/2 other material like newspaper/cardboard. A big mistake of new worm composters is starting with a bin of all newspaper in a new bin. Next wet down the bedding and wait 24 hours before adding your worms. Why? allow the moisture to even out AND the chlorine from your water to get out. The moisture should feel damp. If you grab a handful and squeeze you should get 1-2 drops of water out.

Step 5

Place your worms on top of the bedding materials and shine a light on the bin for 8-12 hours. A simple lamp next to the bin will do, NO direct sun. Do NOT mess with them. Overstimulation is one of the 3 biggest mistakes of new worm farmers.

Step 6

Step 5 Place your lid on the bin after the 8-12 hours with a light, and walk away from the bin for 2-3 days. NO FOOD YET. Let them chill out for a while.

Step 7

Step 6Feed the worms 1/2 their weight. For a pound of worms feed 1/2 pound of food scraps or other acceptable worm food. Do NOT feed again until that food is gone.It will likely take a week the first feeding. Feed in one corner or area at a time, do not spread the food out over the whole bin.

Step 8

Place 1″ of paper shreds on top of the food, to reduce fruit flies

Step 9

Check the bin every 60-90 days to see if you need to harvest yet.

Step 10

Use the finished castings (worm poop) in your garden.Once you have completed the above steps, you will have a healthy worm bin and you are ready to start all over again. hope this article on starting a worm farm was helpful.
                    *The Worm Trench The worm trench is a simple way to attract NATIVE worms to your lawn and or garden.Read More
This method is so simple, its almost comical: 1. Collect food scraps (about a gallon is a good place to start) 2. Dig a hole in your yard or flowerbed about 10 inches deep and 8 inches round. 3. Dump the food scraps into the hole. 4. Cover the hole/food scraps back up with dirt 5. That is it! Collect scraps and start over. See now, that is pretty simple, no layering, no turning, no watering. Just bury it and go! It will take about 2-3 months for it to break down. We do most of  our trench composting in the wintertime so we don’t have to trek out to our compost heap. Yes, we are lazy composters. keep a little flag or garden stake to mark where you last placed scraps in the flowerbed. You could also draw a map and keep it handy to show where you have placed the scraps in the past. Trench composting is like feeding a stray kitten. You keep feeding, and it will keep coming back. Therefore, one of the key elements in trenching is to keep the food supply going. No, We do NOT suggest adding composting worms to your yard. Why? Adding FOREIGN worms to your yard is a recipe for worm death. Why not attract native worms that are best suited for your soil Do you have a story or comment to share on this topic? We would love to hear from you!
            *Top 20 signs you are a Worm FarmerRead More
1. You collect all your food scraps (for the worms) 2. You collect all your neighbors food scraps (for the worms) 3. You collect the food scraps from anyone who will give them to you (for the worms) 4. You make a “run to starbucks” for the free used coffee grounds (for the worms) 5. You buy a paper shredder just to make digestion of paper easier (for the worms) 6. You chop up food into a nice puree because that’s the way they like it (for the worms) little worm7. You use your dryer lint as bedding (for the worms) 8. You go dumpster diving to find newspaper and cardboard (for the worms) 9. You have ever started a sentence with “My worms……” 10. You have ever called worm poop : black gold 11. You would NEVER consider fishing with or feeding these worms to chickens 12. You’ve brought them in the house ‘cause its “too hot or too cold” for them 13. You’ve ever grown pumpkins or watermelon just as feedstock (for the worms) 14. You no longer where gloves when digging through worm poop 15. You arrange your vacation plans around harvesting seasons 16. Someone has referred to you as “The Worm Lady or Man” 17. Your yard is AWESOME thanks to the power of Worm Poop 18. You know what worm tea is and how to “brew” it for maximum effect 19. You know why bones and meat are no good in a worm bin 20. You are a member of a worm composting support group aka forum Just wanted to have a bit of fun today. Do you have anymore to add to the list? We would love to hear from you.
            *Healthy Worm bin What does a healthy worm bin look like?Read More
  Just to reinforce, the following things are totally normal in a worm bin: 1. Bugs: rolly pollies, spiders, mites, weevils, beetles, roaches(yuck), springtails, ants, fruit flies, house flies, gnats, millipedes, crickets , black soldier fly larvae and more. Do you get the drift? When we sell worms, we literally put a sticker on the shipment that says bugs are a NORMAL part of the worm ecosystem. Nuisance, YES, Normal , YES. If bugs creep you out, then worm composting may not be the hobby for you.  2. Mold/fungi: from time to time, especially if you over feed or overwater you may get mold or fungus. Because it is a dark damp environment, this is not unexpected. What do we do in this situation? Remove it. Not because it is mandatory, but because if you are highly allergic to both and do not want to inhale any spores that will make you ill when you are working in your bins. 3. Sprouts: worm composting is cold composting and will allow for seeds to germinate. They are in our opinion that your compost is super healthy.  As you can see, there are a lot of variables when vermicomposting. You can have two bins right next to each other, start with identical bedding and the same amount of worms, feed similar meals and have two different outcomes. That is just the way it works. If you like variety and always learning new things, worm farming is a great intriguing hobby.
            *Adding Worms to Lawn Thinking of adding worms to lawn?Read More
Worms do improve soil conditions BUT they need a something to survive: the right environment. In other words, placing the worms in bad soil is getting the cart before the horse. Worms do not improve the soil, WORM POOP or castings improve the soil. And in order for worms to poop they have to have food and water to eat. And the PH must be right. So what do you do? You have two basic choices: 1. Add tons (literally) of organic materials to your lawn. Aged organic Compost is best followed by aged manure. Water it in and the native worms will come. 2. Start a worm bin or compost pile and then use your worm castings and/or worm tea to treat your lawn. But please do not be fooled into thinking you can simply add some worms to yard and have miraculous results. Someone is not telling you the truth. Regardless the breed of worm, it just does not make sense. A soil becomes depleted because of lack of organic materials/nutrients: you must replenish these materials to improve the soil. Just like the movie says but put in our terms, “if you compost it they will come”. Improve your yard with compost and the worms will show up, poop all over the place and thus nourish your yard. Just what we all want, a yard full of worm poop. Ha.
            *Worm Farming Worm Farming can make your organic home gardening dreams come true. Here is how it works: Read More
you eat, the fruit and vegetable scraps left over go to the worms along with some bedding materials like paper scraps, leaves, the worms eat it, and POOP, then you use the poop (worm castings) to fertilize your garden and the process starts all over again. Making compost using red wiggler worms in a worm composting bin is fun AND the worms do all the work! Its a win/win. For those with limited space, like apartment dwellers or for those who simply do not want to bother with a traditional compost heap, worm bin composting is the answer for you. Composting with worms is an odor free way to compost your fruit/veggie scraps and even paper/cardboard scraps. Wow, can you see how your garbage just got minimized? Wormbins for home use come in all shapes and sizes. You can purchase a ready made retail wormbin like this one: or you can make a homemade version for under $5. You can even use an old fridge or horse watering troughs as worm bins. But they will have to be adapted a bit. Have I sparked your interest? Browse around this website, we have over 200 articles on worm composting. And if you are ready to jump right in, we sell worm starter kits.
          *Worm Castings Worm castings….. ah, the wonderful, miraculous END result of worm composting. Yes, it is literally the end result it is worm poop or as we call it in the worm field: vermicompost.Read More
 

worm castings

Here is how it all works: We give our fruit/vegetable scraps to our worms The worms turn it into castingsWe use the castings as a natural fertilizer on our gardenand the cycle starts over again. Castings are often compared to expensive slow release fertilizers. Because they stay alive in the soil, they release nurtients long term. They contain beneficial nutrients but also contain live organisms that will not only nourish your plants but also serve as a pesticide and antifungal. In our opinion, worm castings are a win/win. Natural fertilizer and pesticide all in one. NO nasty chemicals that nobody would not want to expose their family to. YUCK. So how can you use it? Several options:
  • As a top dressing : just scratch or hand mix it into the surface of the ground around your plant and water it in.
  • As part of a starter mix for seedlings or new plants. We recommend 50% castings with 50% peat moss or coconut coir.
  • As Worm Compost Tea to use as a root drench or folier spray. This is by far the most recommended method among gardeners for its fast results.
How can you NOT use it…. you can’t go wrong unless you simply don’t use it.
            *Worm Bin Problems Worm Bin Problems – lets call them challenges, problems is such a negative word.Read More
LOL. The #1 tip to solving worm bin problems? AVOIDANCE! How do you avoid them? By educating yourself properly. Having any kind of decaying matter, no matter the process, will tend to attract certain bugs and environmental issues. Worm Composting Bugs Having a thriving active worm bin will mean you will encounter other critters. This article discusses what you might see and if you need to rid the bin of them. Worm Composting Fruit Flies the biggest bother with worm composting are these little buggers. Find out some of the tricks to keep them minimized in this article. Moles Yes there are animals out there who would love to feast on your worms. Find out what they are and how to avoid them in this article. Worm Composting PH – alkaline vs. acid, you don’ have to have a science degree to figure it all out. This article will help you to decifer what is good for your worms. Worm Composting Temperature can be a challenge. Worms do prefer certain temps so if it is really hot or really cold where you are this can be a challenge. Mold Fungi and Bacteria are a normal part of the decomposition process and are likely to be encountered during composting with worms.
            *Composting Instructions This article will discuss composting instructions. Like many topics, successful composting, can be subjective depending on compost materials, climate and location of your bin.Read More
But several rules hold true for all:

Rule #1 Materials

The right materials: if doing traditional composting the general rule is 60% brown materials to 40% green materials. These are often referred to as Carbons/Nitrogens. Colors make it simpler for me: Browns are fibers: newspaper, grass clippings, leaves, cardboard, straw. Greens are your fruit/veggie scraps. If you get this ratio OFF you can end up with a stinky mess. I start and end each layer of scraps with Browns. If you still cannot figure out the difference between green and brown, here is a simple test. Wet it down and wait 2-3 days, if it stinks, its green. If you are using a worm bin you can feed scraps and provide some bedding with each feed.

Rule #2 Water

Provide moisture: a traditional pile requires weekly watering to keep the decomposition process going. Dry= no processing but TOO wet= stinky mess. Should be moist but not dripping.

Rule #3 Air

Providing oxygen to your pile is a critical step that many overlook. It is labor intensive: requires you to turn the materials in your pile. This should be performed at least monthly. Compost is living and all living things need air.

Rule #4 Temperature

Getting the internal temp to around 130-160 degrees will speed up decomposition AND help to kill off unwanted bacterias. Adding a compost activator can help to speed up this process. After this heating phase it will cool down to continue breaking down. Do all of the above right and you will have some beautiful black gold to use on your lawn in 8-12 weeks.
            *Worm Harvesting Worm Harvesting is rewarding yet very tedious work. It is fun to reap the benefits of the worms labor butRead More
is very time consuming and dirty work. You can harvest your worms using the pile method or by simply feeding on one side of your bin for a few weeks or months until all the worms move over. The pile method is simple. Put the castings/worms in a pile shaped like a pyramid. Leave as is for 15-20 minutes and come and scrape the top layer of the pile off. Leave it again for another 15 minutes and repeat over and over until all you have left is a squirming pile of worms. Another way to harvest is by using a worm harvester.
            *Worm Bedding What can you use as worm bedding? Think about it this way: try to mimic nature.Read More
Would you find worms in a pile of wet newspaper or cardboard? Probably not, unless it had been decaying for a long time. Yet, many people recommend newspaper and cardboard as primary bed materials. We don’t. Why? Because we have seen bins fail time after time when these items are used as the only source of bedding.Sure, you can use it. Just not as 100% of the bin mix. And it is best to use it as an additive to an established bin. Here is what we recommend when you are starting a bin. We call it worm starter bedding. 50% of the MIX needs to be:
    • Coconut coir (a renewable resource made from coconut husks, it is expensive due to shipping costs) OR
  • Peat Moss (non renewable but cheap and easily accessible) OR
  • Aged Manure (has to be aged for at least 8 weeks to go through the heating process and aged for 6+ months if the animals have been dewormed)
The other 50% can be any combination of : shredded newspaper, shredded cardboard or shredded leaves (non acidic).And example would be: 50% coconut coir and 25% newspaper and 25% shredded cardboard. These are examples of STARTER bin materials. After your bin is established you can use any combination of the above. In an established bin you can also use any of the following as worm bedding: newspaper, cardboard, dryer lint, shredded leaves (although oak tend to be too acidic), peat moss, coconut fiber, manure, straw, some grass clippings (but be careful, these can heat up a bin fast and make sure they do not have chemicals on them) One final note about materials, the finer it is the quicker it will be processed. The bulkier the slower and the slower they will eat the food scraps.
            *Worm Food Worm Food or feeding is an important thing to understand when composting with a worm bin.Read More
For many people composting the kitchen scraps is the main reason they begin a worm bin. Fruit and veggie scraps are a great source of worm food: they produce nutrient rich castings which are great for organic fertilizer

feeding worms

What do worms eat?

Feeding scraps can have challenges. The main challenges are odor and fruit flies. We put my scraps in the our regular compost pile to allow them to decompose some, then give to the worms when partial composted. This method reduces pests and odor. Not to mention it speeds up the worms composting process. What can worms eat? Anything EXCEPT: Dairy, Meat, LOTs of citrus, LOTs of onions and dog/cat feces (they contain parasites and bacteria that this cold composting method will not eradicate) Just about everything else is ok but our recommendation is to MIX IT UP. Do not offer a lot of one thing until you know that the worms will tolerate it well. Below is a photo of what was under the watermelon from the above photo.  

worms feeding

                                                                                                                 

            *Worm Environment For optimal food recycling and worm casting production we must create the correct worm environment. Worms do their best work in nature.Read More
Red Wigglers thrive in a nature in a manure pile. Therefore, our goal should be to closely replicate nature. A bin full of shredded newspaper with some table scraps does not mimic nature. Yes, worms may “survive” in there but they will not thrive, they will SLOWLY break down the contents and they will likely not breed. It could take many months in poor conditions for worms to adapt. This is why we recommend a special worm starter bedding when you first start your wormbin. (if you buy a worm starter bag from me, you do not have to worry about bedding at all, it is all included in the starter bag) Yes, bedding materials are important but you must also pay attention to moisture, temperature and feed. This is better explained in article “The 3 rights of Worm Composting “ Worm Composting can be tricky but not difficult. It is a lot of trial and error. Let me know if you have any questions.
            *NightCrawlers worms Nightcrawlers are a favorite worm for fishermen.Read More
Many want to use these worms for composting scraps so they can later use them for fishing. There are many varieties: european (aka belgium), canadian, african and hybrids. But the question is, will they work for composting? The answer is yes, but not as well as red wigglers. Although they are a larger worm than the reds. The red wiggler is on top and the night crawler below. Both are full sized. They simply do not eat as much as a red nor do they tolerate Texas temperatures like a red wiggler will. Night crawlers prefer 40-70 degrees. They like it cool. And these worms like to burrow, making top feeding difficult. In other words they are not suited for tradition worm bin composting. There are euro’s (european night crawler), africans and canadian nightcrawlers. Research them before buying to make sure they are suited for your weather. We also get a lot of inquiries as to what worms are best to add to an existing lawn to improve the soil. Our answer: NONE, we have literally refunded money and talked buyers out of worms for this purpose.Why not? This practice is backward. You should improve the soil FIRST, then the native worms will come. If you add worms to bad soil, they will promptly die. It will be a total waste of money. How do you improve the soil? First step is to have your soil tested at your local agricultural extension. That will give you a starting point. The you know what minerals are difficient. All yards will improve with the application of compost.
            *Worm Fattener Recipe Looking to plum up your worms for fishing or resale?Read More
This Worm Fattener Recipe will do the trick. 1 cup agricultural lime or bone meal or powdered oyster shell 1 cup wheat flour or corn flour 2 cups bran meal or wheat meal 4 cups alfalfa meal or pellets 5 cups chicken layer pellets or crumbles 1 cup powdered milk Our mixture consisted of the following: powdered oyster shell (found at feed store), corn masa flour (grocery store), wheat meal (grocery store in whole foods area), alfalfa meal (found at pet store), purina layena chicken crumbles and powdered milk. Directions for use: Mix altogether. Mix in a handful with your veggie waste or sprinkle in one area of bin. Do NOT cover entire bin. This will heat and worms need to be able to retreat to a cooler area of bin.
            *Wormbin VS Compost Pile? Bin or pile composting? Trying to decide which method will best suit your garden?Read More
 This article discusses the advantages and or challenges to both methods. Worm Composting has become increasingly popular over the last decade. Many people choose this method because it is not space prohibitive and there is no odor. Whereas,with pile composting, you need a minimum of 2 foot by 2 foot of space and there is surely an odor during the decomposition process. In fact, many cities prohibit having a compost pile due to odor and possible animal issues. There is a place for traditional piles and a place for wormbins. You can use your outdoor pile to compost the bulk of scraps and use the wormbins to compost smaller quantity of items. From our experience, the finished product of a wormbin seems to be a more fine product whereas the pile product is more coarse. Plants seem to respond better to compost tea made from worm castings over tea made from compost. It is also the opinion of this author that compost piles require more work than worm bins. Although both methods have their ups and downs, worm composting is a more user friendly way to compost.
            *Worm Breeding Worms are not complicated creatures: they eat, poop and reproduce. Worm Breeding of the red wiggler worm (eisenia foetida) will be discussed in this article.Read More
Worms are asexual, meaning they are both male and female or neither male or female whichever. All it takes for worms to breed, is a two breeder size worms to match up at their clitteliums (band or ring), exchange fluids, form an egg then deposit it in the bin. That is it. An average e.foetida breeder worm makes 1-3 eggs per week. Those eggs contain an average of 4 worms. It takes 45-90 days for the eggs to hatch (moisture and temperature dependent). Let’s have some fun. Compounding. If you have 1,000 worms: and all goes well with breeding and bin environment, then you can easily double your population in 3 months and double that population in 3 months and so on. If all goes perfectly, 1 pound can be 6-8 pounds of worms in a year. It would be a safer guess to say 3 pounds for most farmers though. If your composting is going well, you are noticing a lot more worms and your food is disappearing quickly then it is time to harvest your bin contents and worms. Often we think of harvesting to gather the castings for our garden but harvesting is also a very important time to assess if your bin is sufficient for the amount of worms you have. Most farmers say one pound per square foot, We say up to 2 pounds per square foot. So an 18 gallon tote bin will hold up to 4-5 pounds of worms in my opinion. Don’t have a scale? A 20 ounce drinking cup (we call them tea cup ’cause that is what we drink iced tea in) when full to the very top of pure worms (no castings) is usually about a pound. Or you could count them, a pound is usually around 1000 worms. Have fun counting! Try counting these buggers!
            *Homemade Worm Bin You have come to the right place to learn how to make your own homemade worm bin.Read more
Making your own wormbin is the choice of many worm farmers. The whole idea is to reduce waste, right? So making a bin from rehabed totes or buckets makes sense. Not to mention the cost savings. You can make a worm bin out of a 5 gallon bucket, 10 or 18 gallon tote, an old wooden crate or ammo box, non working refrigerators or freezers or a 55 gallon bucket (just to name a few). If you go with a Worm Starter Bag there is no need to add soil because in these bags you will have 4-5 pounds of their active bedding. MUCH better than soil. Soil can be totally wrong if too acidic. Now here are some plans for how to make a 2-3 person (3-4 pounds of worms) Wooden Worm Bin. And here is a book that has LOTs of plans for composters. You can pretty much make any bin work for worms as long as it is protected from sun and predators.
            *Compost Barrel Compost Barrel or drums are a becoming popular choice among vermicomposters. These barrels can be modified to be a flow through system making harvesting easier.Read More
They also take advantage of vertical space. A 55 gallon drum only takes up about 4 square feet of space whereas the 18 gallon totes, using 3 to make the same space would need around 20 square feet of space. You can even turn a drum into a compost tumbler system. Here are some tumblers that are made for traditional composting NOT with worms. The disadvantage of these systems are is difficult to maintain moisture in vertical space. In our barrels we have to keep the tops VERY wet in order for the bottom not to completely dry out. We have also noticed that the finished castings do not fall through the bottom easily. We have to “scrape” them out with a garden tool. So being down on my hands and knees for 20 minutes is no fun. We have to harvest this way about every 6 weeks. Again, We harvest once every 6-8 weeks and get 5-10 gallons of castings out of the two bins I have. One is a 55 gallon barrel that we simply cut the top off of, cut a 16″x8″ rectangle out of the bottom, then fed some coated laundry line across to make a grate. We used a 45 gallon wheeled trash can for the top photo bin. We were thinking at the time was that it would be easier to move a bin on wheels. BUT, we now realize it is near impossible to move them after they get about 1/2 full because they are simply too heavy. We would guess a 1/2 full bin weighs well over 100 pounds. We have had a few people ask me about how far apart I put the coated laundry line. We put the line about 2 inches from piece to piece going north/south and did the same thing east/west to make a “grate or screen” of sorts. All in all, We will keep these bins going but will not be making any more. The idea of simpler harvesting was very appealing but it just has not been as easy as we thought and the finished castings are not as fine as those that come from my commercial bins or my homemade totes.
            * Wood Compost Bin In most cases, the reason someone wants to build a wood compost bin is so they can do worm farming on a larger scale or to do composting in a more controlled environment. This article will discuss wooden wormbins.Read More
The first thing we want to say is that worm farming is a year round hobby. Keep this in mind when you are building and placing your larger bins. If you don’t plan on checking your worms at least weekly during the winter and summer, then you should rethink it. Worms will die if neglected. No matter what kind of container you have your worms in, you must maintain a hospitable environment year round. Still considering a wooden worm box? Here are some basics to keep in mind.
  • Do NOT use chemically treated lumber
  • Do NOT use stained wood
  • Wax seal is ok
  • Need to be fully enclosed with lid and bottom
Why must they be fully enclosed? MOLES and other predators that is why. A mole can eat a LOT of worms in one night. Then their mole friends find out and whammo! no more worms. Even if you have never seen a mole, they will find your place if it is not protected. We line our outdoor bins with hardware cloth or use solid bottom bins outdoors. Just like they say, prevention is worth its weight in gold. Here is a plan on how to make a 2-3 person wood wormbin Advantages of wood: they can be totally custom and they allow for moisture errors Disadvantages of wood: they warp, rot and are prone to wood ants and termites. 
            * Worm Composting Windrow A worm composting windrow is a combination of two different methods piles and worms.Read More
Raising worms in a windrow is a good choice for those who have the space and want to process lots of waste. It will provide massive casting production. But this means you need LOTS of waste and LOTS of worms. A small windrow would be 4 foot by 6 foot and 2 foot high. The worms needed for this size windrow would be 10+ pounds. If you were to buy them in bulk it would still cost you over $100. So cost is a deterant. The other main deterant is MOLES. One mole family can eat up to 5 pounds of worms in one night. And then they go tell there mole friends and before you know it, your worm population is gone. Some farmers simply line the bottom of the windrow with hardware cloth to deter moles. Other use traps. We have not as of yet, had the courage to try a windrow. We do plan on trying our first late this spring and will keep the website updated on the progress of the windrow. Start to finish.
            * Worm Tea The first time we saw the word worm tea we almost gagged. We later discovered Read More
that this concoction is actually an excellent way to use worms castings. When brewed correctly, it contains live properties that not only nourish your plants, but act as an antifungal and pesticide. There are two basic compost tea recipes: 1. Simply mix 1 part castings to 4 parts dechlorinated water and allow to sit for 24 hours. It is recommended to stir every 4-6 hours during this time. 2.Or use an aeration method: Put 1 cup of castings in 1 gallon water. Add 2-3 tsp of unsulfared molasses. Put an air stone connected to a fish tank pump into the water and allow to bubble areate for 24 hours. It will be bubbly/foamy when ready.

worm tea

Then you dilute this concentrate with 1 part WT concetrate and 3-4 parts (NON chlorinated water, pond water or rainwater). Use within 12 hours as a root drench or folier spray. ***vermicompost tea does NOT keep. If it begins to stink then that is a sign of it being anerobic (without oxygen) and it is not good to put on the plants at this point. Yuck. The whole idea of making worm tea is so that it is LIVE. So buying it prebottled at the store will not have these live properties. How much do you need to make? We usually brew 3 gallons at a time in a 5 gallon bucket. This makes enough to water my entire garden and flower beds. We have 3 4’x4′ raised veggie beds, approximately 10 containers with flowers, and 4 large (3’x10) flower beds. We do both folier spraying and root drenching once every 4 -6 weeks. If made properly, your plants will thank you by growing and producing beautifully. It will nourish them and help, work as an anti-fungal AND will help attract beneficial bugs to your garden. ITs a win/win/win. You should apply it every 6 weeks just like you would with a chemical fertilizer.
            * Worm Composting Bugs This article will discuss the most common worm composting bugs that are a nuisance to worm farmers.Read More
Worm Composting Bugs are a part of a healthy worm ecosystem. Therefore, it is not wrong to presume that this ecosystem WILL contain bugs at all times, bugs other than red worms. Critters are just part of the deal. At first it bugged (sorry could not resist) me a little bit but we have become accustomed to them. Fruit flies are the most compliained about creature of the wormbin. If you have rotting fruits and veggies you will likely have fruit flies. But here are some tips to minimize there infestation:
  • Remove scraps from the house by freezing them or storing them outside until you feed to the worms
  • Bury scraps in the bedding or place at least 2 inches of dry newspaper atop the bedding.
  • Cover your entire bin with a peice of fabric (not plastic, bin must be able to areate/breathe.
  • Consider using a fruit fly trap or fly tape
Mites are a frequent pest of wormbins. Red mights can be predatory and try to take over a bin – while white mites rarely cause a problem. If you have an overabundance of mites, it is almost always a sign that you have overfed and your bin is acidic and too wet. So the simple solution, is to add some dry bedding and NOT to feed for at least 7-10 days, we usually wait 2 weeks. Black Soldier Fly Larvae (bsfl) or phoenix worms often occupy outdoor bins during the warm months. We call them maggots – they are nasty in our humble opinion. phoenix worms, black soldier fly larvae, bsflThey pose no threat to your worm bin- in fact they eat faster than your worms, so if you have some, watch your feed, you may need to feed more often. There castings or poo can become worm feed. BUT and it is a BIG BUT, the castings of BSFL smells putrid, means it makes me gag and we used to be like an ER nurse and nothing makes us gag. It was not the smell of an anerobic bin, it was a very distinctive smell, something others that we know who have BSFL bins have experienced as well. This was our experience with them and for that reason we will not ever have a bin dedicated to just BSFL. Of course, we prefer worms. AND, if you are planning on selling the castings, people dont want maggot looking creatures in their purchase. So I hand pick them out or lately, I set a chicken on the bin and let them peck them out. Chickens and fish LOVE BSFL. If you do nothing at all, they usually go away on their own. Springtails, generally speaking sprintails are harmless in the bins. They should be viewed as a part of the healthy habitat. They are tiny – about the size of the head of needle and are brown or white and are known for springing up when encountered. Sow Bugs / Pill Bugs/ Roly Poly Bugs. Commonly found in compost piles are no harm either. They work wonders composting tough materials like corn husks/cobs, so let them be. Last but not least: ANTS! the little buggers sneak up on you and before you know it, OUCH! Well, they do the same things in a bin. One day you go out to check your bin and they have taken up residence. Usually when it has rained a lot outside and they are looking for dry ground, not to mention they have a good food source too in a bin. The best remedy for getting rid of ants is to soak them out. Spray down your bed to wet and do it again in 48 hours and they will leave. We have tried diatomaceous earth (which is safe for a worm bin by the way because worms do not have an exoskeleton) and it did not work as well as soaking. The Soak ‘Em out method works best for us.
            * Moles yes these are the main predator of composting wormsRead More
  There are horror stories of them eating an entire bin of worms in a few hours. YIKES. At $25/pound that can be an extensive loss. Even if you have never had them before, they almost always show up when you have a compost pile or outdoor worm bin. Like the movies says “if you build it they will come.” It is probably more accurate to say “if you compost it, they will come” A sure sign they are present in your yard are the presence of piles of dirt or tunnels showing up all over your lawn. They will stop at a driveway or sidewalk then turn and go a different direction. As far as worm composting goes, our recommendation is to try to prevent them from having access to your worms. This can be as simple as building a bin with a bottom or lining your windrow with hardware cloth. We use the hardware cloth because it allows for drainage. Some have even opted for a concrete block “shell” for the bins. You get the idea BLOCK ACCESS to the worms. We have NEVER used a trap but if a mole family moved in and ate our worms, we would set one up real fast. We safeguard all my bins with hardware cloth at the bottom to PREVENT them. OR, we have fully enclosed bins (horse troughs) we would never suggest an open bottom bin like a traditional compost pile as a worm bin for this reason.
            * Go Green With Worm Composting This article will explain how you can go green with worm composting.Read More
Worm Composting is the ultimate way to go green for anyone. Even apartment dwellers can do worm composting because it requireslittle space and is odor free. Worm Composting performs the REDUCE, REUSE and RECYCLCE concept all in one. You will reduce your waste going to the landfill by allowing the worms to compost your fruit, veggie, coffee grounds and paper/cardboard waste. You will reuse items lying around to make a worm bin. And then the worms do the recycling part: they take the waste and turn it into nutrient rich worm castings (aka worm poop). About every 60-90 days while worm composting, your worm bin will be ready to harvest. Harvesting refers to separating the finishedworm castings (the composted scraps) from the worms. There are several ways to harvest, some requiring hands on separation and some as simple as feeding differently. When you are finished harvesting, you simply start over again in your bin and use the castingsin the garden. Worm Castings are a the nutrient rich natural slow release fertilizer minus the chemicals. Allowing you to nourish your plants and your family with chemical/pesticide free produce. The castings serve as a fertilizer, an antifungal and pesticide. The anti-fungalproperties are especially important for tender plants and flowering plants like roses. The pesticide function comes from the castings containing live micro-organisms which will deter harmful bugs from invading your garden. You can use your castings by simply applying them to the topsoil and watering them in, using them as a starter mix for new plants. Or you can make a concoction called Worm Tea. Most organic gardeners, me included, prefer the Worm Tea. It can be used as a foliar spray and root drench. A little castings go a long way with the Worm Tea method.You really can’t go wrong with how you use the castings as long as you do use them. So What’s Stopping You? Start a worm bin today and Go Green with Worm Composting.
            * Worm Bin Temperature Maintaining a certain worm bin temperature is important for year round worm composting and worm survival.Read More
Red wiggler worms (aka manure or compost worm) prefer temps in the 40-90 degree range, with 70-80 degrees being optimal. Even if worm bins have temperature as high as 90+degrees and as low as 30 degrees and during both extremes the worms will be actively composting. But if you can avoid the temp extremes, your worm bin will be more productive. Cold Weather Tips:
  • Buy a compost thermometer to monitor temps. and conditions frequently
  • Insulate bins (this can be as simple as wrapping with an old blanket or as fancy as foam insulation)
  • Feed scraps that heat like lettuce and corn, but do not broadcast feed, feed in sections in case it heats too much so they have a cool area to move to if needed.
  • Consider providing a heat source if you have outdoor bins with a constant temp below 40 degrees in the winter (this can be done with tube lighting, warm water currents or overhead lighting)
Hot Weather Tips:
    • Buy a compost thermometer and check bin temps and conditions frequently
Keep bin shaded and out of direct sunlight Keep bin moist (condensation will help keep bin cool, water bins DAILY in during the summer) Feed less scraps/manure and consider feeds of paper, cardboard or compost (food scraps that have already gone through the heating process) Following the above tips will help you make worm composting a success.
            * Worm Bin PH Maintaining proper Worm Bin PH can be instrumental in the success of a wormbin. Where most people go wrongRead More
is simply not taking ph of materials placed into the bin into account. Before they know it the worms are dead. Many times it begins with the wrong bedding choice. PH is measure by being acid to alkaline. Worms prefer neutral of around 7. Below 7 is considered acid and above 7 is considered alkaline. Newspaper and Cardboard are neutral. Peat Moss is acidic usually measuring around 3.5-4.5. Coconut Coir is 5.7-6.9 and much closer to neutral but still on the acid side. Leaves can be the most dangerous: Oak leaves are in the upper 3’s and lower 4’s. So as you can see, using straight peat moss or leaves as bedding can be catastrophic for a new worm bin. But acid is easy to correct, add some ground egg shells and VIOLA! all neutral. What about adding coffee grounds to the bin? A little is ok but no more than a cup or so at a time per 1 pound/worms. Curious as to what the PH of your bin is? Buy a PH meter!
            * Gardening For Children Gardening for Children is fun for the whole family. Especially when you involve worm composting!Read More
When they are all ready to plant, you can simply move some mulch aside and plant the seedlings. Each of your kid can have their own square foot bed to plant as they wish. Next you water, wait, water, wait. And every 6-8 weeks make compost tea and use it as a foliar spray and root drench for my entire garden. The kids love using the pump up sprayer and take turns nourishing all of our plants with the nutrient rich worm tea. And before we know it we have a yummy healthy harvest. Here are some fun garden activities for kids:
  • Pick seeds/help with planning
  • Preparing the beds
  • Planting the seedlings
  • Weeding the garden
  • Daily watering of the garden
  • Applying compost tea
  • HARVESTING and EATING!
            * Reduce Waste with Worms Trying to think of a way to reduce waste with worms? Worm composting is the answer. Composting with worms is a fun,read More
no odor way to compost paper, cardboard (bedding) and recycle food waste. So as you can imagine, it would work for both home owners and businesses. Worm bins can be small enough to fit under a kitchen sink or large enough to accomodate tons of food waste per day. All taylored to your exact needs. Although there is a learning curve to worm composting, it is not a steep curve and there are a plethera of information available right here on this website. (A good place to start is on this page) Even someone with a black thumb to learn how to be successful at composting. But the best part is the finished product, the worm castings. Some call it worm poop while others call it Black Gold. No matter what you choose to call it, it is a nutrient rich, hormone and chemical free fertilizer for plants. Using these castings in place of traditional fertilizers will result in a more natural fruit and vegetable crop. It is also noted that the use of castings also can reduce the need for frequent watering if mixed in as a starter bedding when you plant. Do the benefits stopthere? NO, these castings also contain live micro-organisms that work as pesticides and anti-fungal agents. What do the castings NOT do? They do not put harmful chemicals in your body! Thinking that it will be gross to handle worms and worm poo? That is what gardening gloves are for people. In fact, most worm farmers are women, more specifically stay at home moms. Now that you have been won over on the wonderful world of worm composting, what is stopping you from getting started with your very own worm bin?
            * Organic Fertilizer Starter MixRead More
worm factoryUsing worm castings as organic fertilizer for seeds, new plants or existing gardens is an amazing way to see maximum growth and reduce transplant shock. When starting new plants or seedlings I use a 50/50 mix. 50% worm vermicast and 50% peat moss or coconut coir. Coconut coir is my first choice due to it being more neutral on the ph AND it is hydroponic (holds water). The worm casting mix provide nutrients, beneficial micro-organisms and require less watering. Talk about an all in one! Some other options organics are: compost: traditional/mushroom/manure. Although vermicompost is the best of course!
            * Composting Horse Manure Composting Horse Manure has its challenges. This article will discuss the two most commonly used methods used.
You can compost it using the pile method or with red wiggler worms (aka manure worms). If you are going to use the pile method, it is important to layer the manure with plenty of fiber material like straw, leaves or cardboard. (which usually is not a problem because it is used as bedding material for the stalls). And to keep the pile wet. Go one step further and say completely rinse the straw bedding 2-3 times before even adding it to the compost pile. Why? Get all the urine out. Now layer manure/bedding/manure/bedding and so on. Water it 2-3 times a week. Turn it every 6-8 weeks.Using this simple method, it will take approximately 6 months for the manure to become usable compost. You may choose to use to composting worms help speed up the process. But if you do, there are several tips that will help you succeed.
  • Rinse the poop to remove as much urine as possible before adding to pile/bin (most of the time horse manure is mixed with straw or shavings which will absorb the urine) worms dont like urine
  • Make sure the horses have not be DEWORMED with a chemical dewormer, if they have then you need to let the manure sit for at least 8 weeks before adding to bin.
  • fresh manure will heat, so let it sit for 3-4 weeks before adding to bin (I always let mine sit for 2 months before adding)
  • Do not broadcast feed the poop in a worm bin, just in case it is “bad” or the worms dont like it, just feed in 1/4-1/2 of the bin so they have somewhere to go if they dont like it.
Composting equine poo can be extremely beneficial to your garden, the end results are nutrient rich compost that will nourish well.
            * Composting Worms: Are you ready for them?Read More
Got the right bin? The right bedding? Nope, you can’t just throw them in a bucket with some soil, leaves and table scraps and wish them well. Well, you CAN but you will waste your money ’cause the worms will likely die. Here are some steps to prepare for your worm arrival and to ensure success.

Bin Basics

It needs to be opaque (not clear) It needs air holes It needs to be size appropriate for your order (1 square foot of space per pound of worms).

Bedding Basics:

Use a starter bedding of EITHER coconut coir or peatmoss with some crushed eggs shells. NO paper/cardboard/leaves as starter bedding unless you plan on NOT feeding your bin scraps for 6-8 weeks while they work through the coarse materials.
            * Coconut Fiber: What is coconut fiber?Read More
  AKA cococoir or coconut coir are simply the hulls/outside of coconuts. Coconuts are harvested every 60-90 days and the husks are then processed and packaged (often compressed) to be used for gardening, with pets, packing/shipping, making rope and even used in many outdoor mats. Compressed fiber is NOT the same as coconut HUSKS. Coconut husks are what is used for doormats or planter liners. NOT good for a worm bin, it would take worms YEARS to break down that course material. The fiber is a material that closely resembles peat moss in appearance. That is where the similarities end. Coco-fiber is ph neutral(in most cases) whereas peat moss is acidic. Coconut fiber is hydroponic (holds water) whereas peat moss is hydrolypic (leaches water). As you can imagine. LOVE COCO-FIBER. Neutral and less watering, its a win/win for a worm farmer. Because the coconuts are harvested so frequently, it is a renewable resource, unlike peat moss. As long as there are coconuts, there will be coir. In addition it is free of bacteria and harmful fungal spores often found in peat.Cococoir is usually ph neutral, making it an excellent bedding choice for worm bins. Another appealing feature of the fiber, is that it is hydroponic (it holds water) requiring less watering. The only disadvantage of using coconut husks is the expense. Due to high shipping fees from where they are harvested, the retail cost is significantly higher than peat moss. But in my opinion, it is a far superior product and worth every penny.
            * Building a Worm Farm Building a worm farm is fun and easy. You can likely make one with items you already have on hand.Read More
There are only a few rules you must follow when making your worms a home.  

Rule #1

The bin should be opaque, not transulscent. Although I have heard of people using a clear container with descent results, worms prefer a dark environment

Rule #2

Must have air holes. The container needs aeration for the red wriggler worms to survive. Otherwise it will become anaerobic and not a good thing. As food decomposes, there will be gasses needed to be released. The size of the holes is not important.

Rule #3

The container needs to be the right size for the amount of worms it will house. Worms eat and breed better when they have room. They will self regulate if they get cramped (die off). They need about one square foot of space per pound. Roughly: 1/2 pound worms to a 5/10 gallon bin 1 pound to a 18/20 gallon bin 3-5 pounds to a 45/55 gallon drum/barrelNow you are ready to build the bin. When you have that completed, you should read up on worm environment: bedding, moisture, temp, food, etc. Also, our article- “the 3 wrongs of worm composting” is a helpful read.
            * Compost Containers A very common question: What are the best compost containers?Read More
referring to bins here. Our answer as worm farmers is always ” A Worm bin”. But the idea of using worms, does not appeal to everyone. This article will discuss many bin options. Of course, start with WORM BINS , it would be neglegent of me not too. You can make a bin out of an 18 gallon tote, a 5 gallon bucket, an old fridge or whatever. Small or large, you decide. 2 pounds of worms will digest the scraps of a family of 2-3, odor free. Browse this site for lots of info on vermicomposting.
Pallet bins: many people make bins out of old pallets. Go on Craigslist or your local Freecycle group, people are constantly giving them away. All you need is a bin with 3 sides and a front to load your compost. This “framing” will help to maintain moisture and keep critters out.here is a video on one:
Barrel Bins/ Tumblers: you can buy them ready made or you can make one yourself. Again visit craigslist to find a food grade barrel if you are going to make one yourself, do not use one that had pesticides, chemicals or petroleum in it, YUCK. These tumblers are said to make compost in half the time of a pile.Here is a video on how to make a tumbler: Retail bins: your local hardware store or gardening center is likely to carry ready-made composters. They run anywhere from $15 to $300 depending on the size/variety. In the spirit of reducing consumer waste, I far prefer a homemade (repurposed) version over retail. The choice is yours, we would love for you to post your photos of your composters here, so it may help give others ideas.
            * Pile Composting So you want to try your hand at pile composting? This article will discuss the key elements to having a traditional compost heap.Read More

Space

A compost heap will require space. Your pile can be as small as 2’x2′ or as large as a football field. Many choose to have 2-3 heaps side by side so that when one becomes full, you can start another heap while waiting on heap #1 to finish decomposing.

Materials

This is an area that you will hear different advice. Suggestions will vary but generally a combination of 60% brown to 40% green is used. Some say carbon/nitrogen and some say brown/green. Browns refer to fiberous materials: leaves, cardboard, straw, paper, ect. Greens refer to food scraps, manure, ect. Basically, you can start and end each layer with browns.

Air

Aeration is VERY important for healthy compost. A pile without air is a stinky disgusting mucky mess. The simple way to add air to your pile is to turn it every week or two. It is labor intensive and some people opt to simple poke holes in the pile by turning a shovel upside down and driving it down into the pile in several spots.

Moisture

A dry mound is a dead mound that will not decompose. Keeping a pile damp is key. A weekly rain shower will do the trick but if you dont get a rain, then you should water your pile yourself. A good practice is to keep a layer of straw atop your heap to keep moisture in. In summary, having the right space, the right materials, and providing air/water will set you on the right track to having successful pile composting. And you will likely reap the nutritious benefits within 2-3 months. You know it is ready for use when it looks like and smells like dirt.
            * Bokashi Composting What is Bokashi Composting? It is a method that uses a starter culture (similar to yogurt) to encourage beneficial micro-organisms to consume/decompose scraps.Read More
In other words it is basically fermenting. It is a Japanese word meaning “shading off”. The mother culture usually contains microbes from 3 different groups – Lactobacilli, Fungi/yeast, and phototropic bacilli. How the process works:
  • kitchen waste is placed in an airtight container
  • Add a mother culture (micro-organisms)
  • continue to layer scraps and culture until the container is full
  • bury the contents of the container in the yard OR add to a regular compost pile
Produce scraps in a bokashy bin will not “break down” in the container they are more/less pickled (fermented), it takes about two weeks to become ready to bury and will decompose once you place them in the ground or your compost heap. You will want to bury your contents at least 10″ in the soil to deter animals from digging it up. Benefits of using this composting method: it is odor free, it is a rather fast way to compost, you can use this method in addition to worm composting and it is not labor intensive. Disadvantages: the bin and mother culture are costly. The ยพ gal kitchen compost pail can help to collect kitchen food waste including bread, vegetable, fruit peels, meat, bone, fish, and dairy products. And then, the food waste can be transferred into the 5 gal Bok. bucket. EM ceramic powder is infused into the bucket for faster fermentation. With Bran as a compost accelerator, the food waste in the bucket ferments, and transforms into nutrient-rich compost. Kit includes: 2lb Bok. Bran, 1 Bok. Bucket, 1 kitchen food waste collection pail. Not convinced that this is the right composting method for you? Try worm composting!
            * Easy Composting : Trench Easy Composting: A super easy way to make your own compost is simply using a trench. Not complicated at all,Read More
if you can dig a hole, you can trench compost. Step One Collect at least a gallon of food scraps (an simple way to do this is to store scraps in a gallon ziploc bag or a tupperware container in the fridge or freezer until full) **Food scraps can consist of any produce scraps, coffee grinds and filters, egg shells. Do NOT add meat, dairy, pasta, bread etc. These items will attract rodents. Step Two Dig a hole in your garden about the size of a basketball, pour your scraps in and cover it back up with dirt. You may want to dig down 10+ inches if you have a dog that will dig up your scraps for a midnight snack. An extra measure of care would be to put a rock or something large atop your hole. This is also a good idea to help you remember where you trenched last. Tips: if burying in an empty garden bed you can do it anywhere. If burying in a bed with veggies or ornamentals, you should bury the scraps at least a foot away from the plant. As the scraps decompose, the heating process can damage plants roots. If you are using this method in a garden, consider adding some red wiggler worms to speed up the process. But they will only survive if you are adding a constant supply of food scraps or organic materials. So, you must continue composting year round.
            * Best Compost Bin The best compost bin is a wormbin. Come on- you made it to a worm composting website.read More
We are worm farmers and of course truly believe in highly recommending a worm farm. Why we are so passionate about worms? Composting with them is: 1. NOT space prohibitive: you can make a worm bin in any size container from as small as a tupperware storage bin to as large as a horse watering trough. A 5 gallon bucket works great! 2. NOT stinky: the worms eat the decomposing food leaving NO ODORS. If you bin stinks, it is because you have fed too much food and the worms can’t keep up.  3. Way faster than a heap: a traditional compost pile takes about 3-6 months to break down, the same volume of produce takes 8-10 weeks in a worm bin. And the worms do all the work! 4. Worms are cool: they eat, poop, and breed, what a life! Really: I do both worms and have a traditional pile. I do a mixed method.I put everything in the compost heap, then after it goes through the heating process, I put it in the worm bins. feed and water the wormbins 4 times a month (weekly) and they do the rest. What a life! What are you waiting for? Start a worm farm today.
            * Worm Composters : Natures dirty little secret Want to see worm composters at work?Read More
ake a trip to a secluded treed area in early spring. A place where the fall leaves are left untouched. Go in early dawn, just afterdaybreak. Take your foot or a small shovel and move the top 2-3″ of leaves away and expose the rich dark soil below. Pick up a hand full, careful there will likely be some native worms in there. Smell the rich soil, it does not stink, it smells new, earthy and fresh. Worms are active in nature, playing part in the natural decomposition process. It’s their job. Now bring yourself back to reality. Whether you live in an apartment, a city lot or out in the country on a farm, you can harnessthe earthworm in a worm bin. This special earthworm called the red wiggler or eisenia foetida (not the nightcrawler variety) will gladly compost your table scraps and newspaper/cardboard scraps into nutrient rich castings (aka worm poop). You can then use these castings as an all natural fertilizer, antifungal, pesticide for your garden. Yes, these worms turn your waste into a 3 in 1 all purpose garden miracle.red wriggler worms, compost worms All you need to get started is some basic knowledge about worm composting, a worm bin and some worms. Many local cities provide wormcomposting classes to their residents. No, you cannot just throw some worms from your yard in a bucket with some salad remnants andwatch them go. It is not difficult but it is not that simple either. This is one dirty little secret that should be shouted from the hills. Anyone can do it, EVERYONE should do it. What is stopping you?
            * Indoor Composting Looking for a way to do indoor composting? With worm farms, you can easily compost all your fruit, veggie and paper scraps. Let the worms do all the work for you!Read More
Worm farming is odor free and requires very little space. You do need a few supplies and some basic information. The bin: You can build your very own homemade worm bin or buy a retail bin. composting wormsOr you can buy a retail unit (ready to go). Whether you build it or buy it, you will need to ready yourself for the arrival of your composting worms. The worms: not any worm will due for bin composters. Red wigglers or e.foetida are the breed used for bins. They are naturally top feeders. Whereas, most other breeds are burrowers, not suited for bins. The bedding: probably the MOST important factor with a new worm farm, is the bedding choice. Many websites say you can start a new bin with newspaper shreds and soil. Agree, but only if you plan on not feeding your worms any scraps for 2-3 weeks and they will eat less overall if you use these items as your primary bedding source. The whole purpose of having a wormery is so they will compost your kitchen scraps, right? So, starting with the proper bedding is imperative. We recommend coconut fiber. What do worms eat? Worms can be fed produce scraps from your kitchen, shredded paper/cardboard, and aged manure. Worms will eat 1/2 their body weight per day when operating at full capacity. The main rule with feeding worms is ONLY FEED AGAIN WHEN ALL FOOD IS GONE. If it takes a day or a week, whatever, dont feed again until they have digested the previous feed. Or your bin will stink. Maintaining a worm bin consist of feeding, adding new bedding with each feed, keeping the bin moist, protecting from predators and then harvesting. What is worm harvesting? Harvesting is simply separating the worms from the castings (worm poop). Click here to go to the page explaining how to harvest worms Once you isolate your castings, you can use this wonderful all natural fertilizer for your garden. And then the worms start working all over again to make your next batch.See, indoor composting can be easy! There is a new indoor composter on the market called a naturemill.
           * Compost Activator A great way to give your outdoor pile a kick is to use some compost activator. Making compost is not rocket science but there is some science to it. In order to decompose the pile must heat and that is where activators come in. You can buy composting activators (CA) ready made or you can make one at home. You can use un-sulfured molassas to give heap a heat boost. This is what you can do:Mix 2 Tablespoons of molassas to one gallon of water and pour it on the pile. Usually within 12 hours the pile is smokin’ hot. The molassas gives energy to the micro-organisms and thus turns on the heat starting the decaying process. Pile raise over 100 degrees overnight. It is suggested for a pile to heat over 220 degrees to kill of pathogens/bacteria to make your compost safe. You should only need to add an accelerant once per season. Here are some other ways to accelerate heat a pile:
  • Use alfalfa meal : just mulch a couple cups into the center of the pile, water and watch it heat.
  • Mix in manure: horse, cow, chicken, goat, rabbit or other
Or if you prefer a store bought version: Also, remember the basics of pile composting: layering and watering. You MUST layer your pile greens (produce scraps) and browns (leaves/straw/grass clippings) and keep your pile moist. So often, people are neglecting adding enough browns.
            * Build a Compost Bin: So, you want to build a compost bin? First you must decide if you want a traditional outdoor pile or a worm composting box. (Well there are a few other options like bokashi or a naturemill but we’ll stick with the main two methods for this article). That is traditional piles and wormbins.Read More
A pile will allow for composting with a close to free startup- but it will require more space and hands on to obtain optimal composting output.Pro’s of a pile: can be any size great or small, you can compost a little or a lot.Cons’s of a pile: Tricky finding the right combination of greens/browns, must keep wet and if you live in a hot climate, this can be a challenge, must turn the pile periodically to keep it aerated (this is VERY labor intensive), piles often attract rodents/snakes. Next, lets discuss wormbins. These bins can be built inexpensively if you do it yourself. A pound of worms to start your composter will cost you around $20-$30. The advantages of going with a worms is that it is odor free, not space prohibitive and the worms do all the work.Pro’s of a wormbin: Can start big or small, no odor when done properly, enclosed so attracts NO rodents.Con’s: red worms cost $25/pound (roughly), must keep bin moist and environment right for worms which takes some learning Browse around this site for more tips on vermicomposting. The choice is up to you. No matter what method you choose, it will be a fun adventure watching your produce scraps turn into beautiful nutrient enriched soil to use in your garden. Don’t want to build your own bin?
            * What do worms eat? What do worms eat? There are many different types of worms (probably over 1000 species) but for the purpose of this article we will discuss composting worms, specifically e.foetida or red wriggler worms.Read More
It is easier to say what worms cant eat than to say what they can eat. But really it is easier to say that. And just to make things a little more confusing, we will throw this out there: Worms will eat just about anything. BUT certain foods they dont prefer and certain foods will stink and attract rodents and pests as they decompose so they are not preferable. So, where does that leave us? Here is a list of foods that work well as the diet of a worm: 1. raw fruit scraps. Just be careful with citrus, add a little at a time 2. raw veggie scraps or cooked veggies (with NO spices or salt). What I have discovered that they take forever to digest is: raw cabbage, raw broccoli and use onions sparingly. 3. Grains they love corn flour What is the best worm food? Well, these are the foods that I have seen the best results with: pumpkin, watermelon, cantelope, pears and yams. What should you NOT feed worms: Meat, starches (breads,rice, ect), any food with spices or salt, lots of citrus or onions.
            * Compost Tumblers Compost tumblers are becoming very popular for several reasonsRead More
  • less space required
  • speeds up the decomposing processRead More
Trying making a rotating composter with an old trash can and may also be a miserable failure. So going with a retail unit is probably best. Unless you are very handy with making rotating things. These tumbling composters comes with complete instructions on how to make compost, along with easy-to-follow assembly instructions. Two vented lids at each end allow for easy filling and emptying of the bin while producing maximum aeration. Animal-resistant twist locks keep critters out. Under optimal composting conditions outdoors, a daily spin of the tumbler should result in compost in as little as 21 days.
Do rotating type bins work with worm composting? No. Red wiggler migrate up as they feed. And the rotating motion/crushing can literally kill them. But what you can do is use the rotating composter to “pre –compost” your scraps then feed the partially composted materials to the worms. You can feed precomposted materials to worms to speed up the vermicompost process.
 

          * Build a Compost Pile This article will cover HOW to Build a Compost Pile.Read More
With the trend of organic home gardening on the rise, many people are attempting composting as well. Making your own compost is a sure way to improve your soil conditions as well as provide organic nourishment for your plants, yard and veggies. Not to mention it is much more cost effective than buying compost somewhere. Here are the 10 Steps to build a compost pile.

Build a Bin

You can make a bin out of many “repurposed” items: old crates, fencing, pallets, cinderblock, bricks and more. The size depends on how big of an area you have to work with. We recommend having 2-3 sections in your bin so that when one area is full and curing, you can start on another area. Don’t want to build a compost bin? Then you can buy a ready made bin.

Add Browns

VERY simple, you start your pile with browns: dead fiber. Examples could be: leaves, grass clippings, paper or cardboard shreds, aged manure and straw. Line the entire bottom of your bin with one of these items or a combo of them.

Add Greens

Again, very simple. Greens are your food scraps: any fruit/veggie scraps are good. Do not add meat or dairy due to the fact that they will attract rodents and other pests.

Add more Browns

Top dress your bin with a good 3-4 inches of browns to deter flies and such and prepare for your next addition of greens.

Add Water

Wet down your bin, like it would get in a good rainfall. My preferred method is to use a soaker hose on my pile once a week for about an hour. A dry bin will not decompose. Keeping it moist is very important.

Repeat the above 4 steps

Keep layering and watering your pile until it is full.

Aerate every 2-3 weeks

About every 2-3 weeks it is wise to provide oxygen to your pile to avoid it becoming stinky (anerobic). You can do this several ways: turn it manually with a pitchfork (every labor intensive but suggested method); simply poke holes in the pile with the straight end of a shovel; use a tiller (not suggested due to the possibility of killing any worms that have found their way to your pile)

Use it!

Once the contents of your pile look like dirt and smell like fresh dirt, then it is ready to use. You can use it for new plantings, use it to top dress plants or you can make compost tea compost tea with it. Does all this seem like too much work? Then build a worm farm and let the worms do all the work for you. You can compost the scraps for a family of four in a 18 gallon rubbermaid tote and it is odor free!
            * How to store worm castings A frequent question is how to store worm castings? The short answer is : the same way you keep a worm bin.Read More
Worm castings are alive. They contain live microbes and in order to keep them alive you must keep them moist, cool and fed. When harvest castings, keep them in either a 35 gallon drum or in 5 gallon buckets. Whatever the container there are some rules to follow: 1. The container must have air holes 2. The container is best if opaque not clear 3. Keep the contents moist. (once a week dampening usually works) 4. Top feed to wrangle up any worms or babies that hatchIf you follow the above steps, the castings will keep and be active for up to a year or more. Honestly, I have not let mine go longer than a year. Mine are usually used within 4-6 months. What about using the castings? You can use worm compost several ways: 1. As a top dressing on any plants and simply water into the soil. 2. As a starter for new plantings (mix with coconut coir ) 3. As worm compost tea (my personal favorite way to use them) Why compost tea? Simple, it works like magic AND makes the castings go much much further.You can take 2 cups of castings and make enough liquid tea to fertilize and nourish your entire yard, grass included. So now the question, how do you make compost tea?

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