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.
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)!