Here are the top 10 tips on how to maintain a vermicompost bin. I spoke about in a previous video how to start a vermicompost bin but this video will be about how to maintain a vermicompost bin. So the first tip I have for you is you want to maintain the moisture in the vermicompost bin because the worms don’t really thrive when it’s dry. You have to think about how it is like in their natural environment where it’s deep in the soil, its moist and when it’s raining you see that the worms are coming out. So you want to keep a similar kind of environment for them in the bin. So what I do is when I see it’s kind of on the drier side, I will use a mister and use the cleanest water that I have which is Brita or you can use rain water if you have any and I’ll like spray it and just really make sure that it’s always moist. Tip 2, put in your food scraps in the bin once a week because the worms don’t like to be disturbed, they don’t want to be stressed. Don’t think of the vermicompost bin as like your regular trash bin where you open it up and put in trash whenever you feel like it. You have to have a separate bin. Collect your organic scraps and then empty it out in the vermicompost bin once a week. You want to make sure that you put in your food scraps in a different part of the bin every week. So one week you’ll put it in the centre of the bin. The other week you put it in the top left corner, bottom right corner. It gives them a chance to move around in the bin. Make sure that the food scraps are in small pieces. They’re not gonna like decompose if you just throw in like your watermelon rinds just like that. You want to make sure-some people actually use blenders- but you want to make sure that you like try to dice it or cut it up as best as you can;it’ll decompose a lot faster and you’ll have good compost for your garden a lot faster too. Make sure you have like a ton of bedding to put in your vermicompost bin. You want to make sure that your food is fully covered with bedding. You don’t want any of the food to be exposed because that will cause some smells and you also want it to decompose a lot faster. This bedding that you use (most people use newspapers), you want to shred it up in as small pieces as possible because it creates this like nice fluffy atmosphere for the worms to make their homes in and I know some people like they don’t want to have to use scissors and hurts their wrists, it takes a long time to cut it up to cover all the food so you can use a shredder and it’s not that expensive as I thought. I went to my local stationery store and bought a good shredder for $20 and in an instant I was able to make a ton of bedding that I could use to fully cover my food scraps. Make sure that the bedding that you use is safe for the worms. So, most people use newspapers as their bedding. So, you don’t want to use like glossy paper, computer paper, anything with harmful inks. You want to stick with soy-based inks or vegetable-based inks and newspapers tend to be the best for that and I guess you want to double check with your local environmental office, but in North America generally they use this kind of ink on their newspapers, so it’s safe. A lot of people are confused as to what they should be putting in their bins. I generally tell people that the worms are vegans with a few exceptions and allergies and they are on a raw foodbased diet. So fruits, vegetables, tea bags, you can put some breads. Don’t put onions or something heavy like garlic or lemons. They don’t like that. Make sure you put in the right amount of food in your vermicompost bin. Don’t put like way too muchI mean the worms actually eat a lot. I heard online they eat 4-6 times their own body weight every day. I also heard it’s half their body weight every day but clearly like it’s still a lot so for two people we usually have 600 grams or so a week to throw out and I know it’s not like a lot for two people we should probably be eating more fruits and vegetables but that’s another video. Anyway so we will put like 400-600grams of fruits and vegetables once aweek and that seems to work. The worm population, once you was feed them, it grows in a few months. It in fact doubles their population in a few months and you’ll end up with all these worms andyou don’t know what to do and I heard that it’s okay you can leave them there if you want but you can give them away to people. But I would caution on that because a lot of people are not aware of the discipline and commitment it takes to take care of the worms. So before you give them away to someone else tell them about it, coach them, show them this video, quiz them, you know, you want to make surethat people who are starting their vermicompost journey have a successful one.
Premium Worm Castings – Master Organic Soil Solutions 33 lb Bag
If you are just setting up your composting operation but need worm castings now we recommend this product. You’ve probably tried others. We think that this is the best. The sellers say that these are the finest worm castings on the market and indeed they guarantee it. No filler or peat moss is used unlike in some competitors’ product. Their worms are fed only on cow manure, which is their natural and preferred food source. Everything that has gone through a worm is what you get. Worm Castings are Nature’s response to synthetics and are the richest natural soil supplement known to man. Just two tablespoons of pure worm castings will give sufficient organic plant nutrients for feeding a 6″ potted plant for over two months. Plant growth is stimulated more by worm castings than any other natural product that is currently available. It is different to large animal manure and synthetic fertilizers. It is easily absorbed by plants. Plant growth isn’t just stimulated by worm castings, the ability of your soil to retain water and inhibit root disease is much enhanced. These worm castings will add to your yield while cutting the time to harvest.
How about something for the kids when they want to help you in the garden and with the composting bin.
This Kids Garden Accessory Kit features Spongebob Squarepants from the Nick Jr television show. Included is Spongebob kids sized gripper gloves, Spongebob kids sized bucket hat, Spongebob garden trowel and a Spongebob garden cultivator. For all the times that your children want to help you in the garden, they will absolutely love the very sought after Spongebob licensed products that enable them to work or play beside you in the garden. Great item for encouraging worm composting for kids
What to feed your Red Wiggler Worms
Vermicomposting or worm composting is a type of composting in which you feed your vegetable scraps to a certain earthworm species, namely red wigglers. What do red wiggler wormseat? Here we will give you an overview of the regime necessary ro feed your worms.
What is a Red Wiggler Worms Diet?
What Should You Feed Composting Worms on? A primary reason to worm compost at home is to responsibly dispose of your food waste instead of placing in your garbage and subsequently to landfill. So, what do red wigglers eat? Worms eat miniscule, invisible, bacteria that graze on the food you add to your vermicomposting box. The wigglers likewise snack the nutrient scraps and bin bedding. You can therefore give your composting wigglers any vegetable menu scraps even coffee grounds and egg shells.
What do Worms prefer eating?
Reed wigglers favor some vegetable scraps over others:
They cherish sweetened foods such as melon rinds. cantaloupe, honey dew, watermelon, etc.
Non-citrus fruit. berries, apples, pears, etc.
Squashes. The soft flesh is simple for them to devour.
Foods that wigglers do not appreciate so much.
Composting Worms will still gobble these menus but in large amounts they could cause harm to your worms. I have often placed small quantities of such foods in my composting bin without having experienced a problem.
Citrus: oranges, limes, lemons, etc. Significant amounts of citrus can burn a worm’s sensitive surface.
Onions and garlic. These too can burn their skin if given in large quantities.
Bread: Bread doesn’t do any harm to your composting wigglers but it can be difficult to compost because it molds swiftly bringing in an extra element to the composting bin.
Composting worms are vegetarian so please remember what you must NOT give to your worms.
Meat, Dairy, Oil.
Cooked meat often has salts and other seasonings, which can injure your worms. Get some backyard chickens and you can responsibly dispose of your cooked menu scraps and get some enormous eggs as well.
Other foods for Red Wigglers – Items you can add to your composting bin that might well not have occured to you.
Dryer lint- Mostly comprises fibers from your clothes
Egg Shells- although breaking down takes a very long time.
Paper Towels- provided you have only utilized them to cleanse beverage accidents, etc. Do not pace towels that have substances on them in your bin.
Pet Hair – you should be careful with this one. In small quantities it works well but in big amounts hair can easily clump together causing it to be harder for the worms to break it down.
Coffee filters and teabags – carry on and put them in as well, they are only made of paper!
Feeding procedure for your worms
Worms can eat approximately fifty percent of their bodyweight daily. You can utilize this equation to work out how much you should be giving your wigglers. When you commission your bin you will usually stock with one pound of worms. So, they will be able to eat approximately half a pound of scraps daily subject tohaving ideal bin conditions present. If you would like your wigglers to ingest more quickly, chop the menu scraps into small portions before needed and pop them into the freezer overnight. Chopping, and/or blending will add to the surface area of each segment of food ensuring that it becomes easier for the red wigglers and the bacteria to feed. Freezing and then thawing breaks down the cell walls of the food item which ensures that it is more mushy when thawed and simpler to consume.
Earthworms have no teeth. Like chickens they have very small gizzards that are used to grind food. Without teeth, they can not bite off lumps of the scraps. Hence, they have to wait until the food scraps start to go rotten and get soft and mushy. Therefore freezing and then thawing your nutrients is a great help.
Here here is some advice on how often to feed your worms.
Wait until your red wigglers have finished their feed before you give them any more. This is simply done by just checking the composting bin. If you overfeed you can bring in unwanted problems.
If you maintain your worm composting indoors you will need to manage it somewhat more carefully to ensure that you avoid fruit flies or foul-smelling odors. An indoor composter should have weekly checks and be fed weekly usually.
If you keep your setup outdoors it is OK to feed them a bit more at each feeding and have a little longer time between feedings. A feeding schedule for your outdoor composting red wigglers should be about once everytwo or three weeks.
Make sure not to overfeed your wigglers. If you put in too much for your wigglers they won’t be able to consume it before it goes rotten. Decomposing food can entice fruit flies and cause bad odors. Another way to deter flies and prevent odor is to be sure to always bury your food scraps under the bedding.
You do not need a baby-sitter for your setup. Even if you went out of town for a month your wigglers would be fine. Ensure you feed them before you go and if they are outdoors you can feed them a little more than customary. Remember, the worms will munch their bedding too!
As with so many topics, there is a ton of information on the Internet about vermicomposting and vermiculture. The challenge is separating the good information from the bad. There are many, many people simply repeating information they found elsewhere without testing it or verifying its truthfulness.
Here are a number of resources which we feel have been developed by people who truly understand what it takes to be successful with vermicomposting.
Book: Recycle With Earthworms: The Red Wiggler Connection
Our current favorite book on the topic. Not as cute as “Worms Eat My Garbage” by Mary Appelhof, but seems to be more informative and written by people with more experience in larger-scale vermicomposting (in addition to small-scale home bins). Having said that though, the current ‘Worms Eat My Garbage” is a 35th anniversary edition and so should be even better than before.
Vermicomposting Horse Manure
Discusses large-scale use of vermicomposting with Eisenia fetida to process horse manure. Published by the Colorado State University Extension
Got other good resources? Please post below, or tell us via our Contact Page. Thanks!
I was just out checking out my compost worm bins and turned up a few compost worm eggs. What you see as red wiggler eggs are actually cocoons or egg cases that contain roughly 5-12 actual eggs.
When red wiggler egg cocoons are first laid they’re a rather pale yellow color which really stands out against the dark compost. As they mature, they change to more of a reddish-brown that’s a bit more difficult to spot.
If you’re seeing red wiggler eggs in your worm bin — congratulations! You’re providing a good enough environment for your compost worms that they’re able to breed. Speaking from experience, it’s pretty exciting when you first see eggs/cocoons in your worm bin. At that point, you’re well on your way to increasing your worm herd. 🙂
It’s sometimes possible to buy red wiggler compost worm eggs directly online, but it’s much more common to buy live compost worms. If you find red wiggler cocoons in with your worms when you buy them, great! That just means you’ve gotten a lot of potential baby worms to grow up in your worm bin.
Worm Castings / Vermicompost
Most people who keep red wiggler compost worms do so for the nutrient-rich worm castings or vermicompost (worm poop) that is the end result of worm composting. We recently harvested one of our smaller worm bins, and took photos of the worm castings before using them in our garden.
Vermicompost is extremely fine-grained and almost silky feeling in your hands. This is because worm compost is made up of individual worm castings (pieces of worm poop), each of which is a bit bigger than a grain of sand. It’s amazing to look at a bucket full of red wiggler worm castings and realize that nearly every single piece has passed through a worm at least once! You certainly don’t recognize the original food scraps — with the occasional exception of pieces of eggshell, hard seeds, etc. that the red wiggler worms can’t digest.
Many gardeners consider worm castings to be the “black gold” of compost because of this fine texture, and also the fact that vermicompost may have more nutrients than traditional or “hot” compost. A definite advantage is that each casting is surrounded by a thin mucous layer, which essentially makes them like tiny time-release nutrient capsules!
The worm castings pictured have been “cured” using the process described in the excellent book
Recycle With Earthworms: The Red Wiggler Connection (by Shelley Grossman and Toby Weitzel). “Curing” vermicompost means letting it sit in a bucket for a couple of weeks after harvest, allowing any worms you missed while harvesting or newly-emerged babies to finish off any food which remains. The result is lighter, fluffier, and more completely broken down than “raw” worm castings. You definitely don’t need to cure your compost, but it’s a nice extra step if you have the time. People who saw our vermicompost at a Farmers Market last summer were amazed by the texture (we were, too!)
How to use your newly-created vermicompost? Worm castings are excellent as an extra nutrient boost added to gardens, for indoor plants, or anywhere else you’re growing. We used several gallons of worm castings as part of our seed starting mix this spring. We often see melon, cucumber, and even peach pits sprouting in our worm bins. I’ve heard (and believe) that worm castings may contain beneficial microbes which help prevent fungus from killing off newly-emerged seedlings.
Another use of worm castings to make “compost tea” or “worm tea”, a liquid mixture of worm castings and water that can be poured on your plants as fertilizer. Whether you choose to use it dry or as worm tea, your plants will thank you!
Happy worm farming (and vermicompost making)!
Ready to get started with vermicomposting, but still have some questions about how to keep red wiggler worms?
There are tons of guides online about how to compost with worms. Just do a Google search, and you’ll be overwhelmed with pages of instructions for keeping worms. The quality of these instructions varies greatly, and you’ll often find conflicting advice. (Example: Is it okay to add meat and dairy to a worm bin or not? Our answer: Yes, but only small amounts at a time.)
If you’ve done your research on red wiggler compost worms but still have questions, feel free to ask them in the comments section below. We’ve been composting with red wiggler worms for over 5 years, and are happy to share our knowledge. No need to learn it all by trial and error!
We’ll try to answer your questions as they come in, and use your questions as inspiration as we add pages to our site on how to compost with worms. Ask away!
Compost Worm Escape!
Even though I knew better, we had a compost worm escape this weekend. Red wiggler compost worms generally stay in the bedding as long as things are going well. You don’t even need a lid on the bin. But… when compost worms are first put into new bedding — and especially if it’s nice and humid (like after a rain) — they’ll sometimes go on the prowl in a serious way. Here some are making their way out of the bin:
I visited my outdoor bins to find the redworms wandering every which way. I even caught a couple about 2 feet up a tree! They were on their way down by the time I snapped a photo, but still… Worms in trees?
Like I said, compost worms generally only wander off when they’re first placed in new bedding, or if conditions in the bin get bad (overfeeding, etc.) A partial solution to make them stay put while they’re first adjusting is to keep a light over the bins. Like most worms, Eisenia fetida avoid light when they can. I rigged up a makeshift dusk-to-dawn light over the bin, and the problem was mostly solved.
So… serious lesson (re-)learned here. When you first set up a bin, it’s a very good idea to keep a light over it for a few days. Once the compost worms have settled into to their work of vermicomposting, they generally stay put. But if the bedding is new and the night is moist, they might go for a wander…
Incidentally, here is a good place to look for bins