April 13, 2015

Simple Steps to Vermicomposting

It doesn’t take much work or space to begin your adventure in vermicomposting. Just follow these step-by-step instructions. Soon, you’ll join Wonder Worman’s worldwide waste-fighting composting worm wonders!

Step 1. Make your Red Wigglers a Home!

First, your Super Composting Red Wigglers need a good home. Any type of container will do really — you can recycle something in your house (toy box, trash can, pail) — there are lots of different options, including a simple composting pile in your yard or garden.
It all depends on how much waste you produce and how often you want to feed your worms. (They can go weeks without eating. Very hearty!)

Drainage is the most important factor! Bins must also be covered to keep out light and to keep moisture level consistent.

Here are some pluses and minuses for common worm composting options:

Red Wiggler Wood Bin

Plus: Fun to build and more aesthetic, this is Wonder Worman’s bin of choice. It’s great for absorbing moisture and has lots of drainage. If you are building your own, make sure the holes are 3 – 5 inches apart on the bottom. This also helps control humidity and makes it easy to collect the nutrient-rich “worm tea” when the bin is raised off the ground.
Minus: Will break down – won’t last forever. Of course, this biodegradability can also be viewed as plus, especially if the wood is sustainably harvested and/or recycled.

Red Wiggler Plastic Bin

Plus: Typically lighter than wood and easier to move. Can last virtually forever. Many holes provide drainage, and raising the bin off the ground makes it easy to collect nutrient-rich worm tea (more holes are need with plastic than wood, because plastic doesn’t absorb moisture).
Minus: Can create a lot of humidity and moisture.

Red Wiggler Compost Pile

Plus: If you have the space and plenty of waste, piles can be great. You can just throw a bunch of food waste on the pile and let the worms do their thing.
Minus: Can’t be as easily insulated in the winter. Can’t collect worm tea.

Step 2. Find your Red Wiggler Bin a Location!

Your Super Composting Red Wigglers aren’t super picky about location — they live underground after all. Bins can go almost anywhere.

Typically, your composting worms will prefer warm, dark places — basements, garages, laundry rooms. Temperatures between 40-80 degrees F are best. Watch for high temps — during summer direct sunlight can be too intense. If needed, move bins out of the direct sun and watch moisture levels. If it gets too cold — below 40-degrees F — and bins are outside, they need to be insulated. Hay and other organic material is best, but bubble wrap and blankets work, too.

Step 3. Make bedding for the Red Wigglers!

Once your Super Composting Red Wigglers have a home, you’ll need to make a nice, cozy bed for them.
Peat moss and shredded newspaper are excellent, commonly available bedding materials. Use one or the other, or a blend of the two. Peat moss breaks down faster than newspaper.
Fill the bins with a 6-9 inch layer of your bedding of choice, then add water to make the bedding damp-sponge wet.

Watch the moisture level!

If the Red Wigglers environment is too dry add more shredded moist newspaper or spray with water. If too moist, check drainage, add more holes and/or add dry newspaper.

Signs the Red Wigglers are too wet:

› Worms crawling out of the bin (or trying to)
› Worms look bloated and white

It is important to change the bedding seasonally. Your Super Composting Red Wigglers are strong, but they can die in old bedding.

Step 4. Feed your Super Composting Red Wigglers!

After moving in to their new digs, your Super Composting Red Wigglers will be hungry! Here are some menu items suitable for your waste-fighing wigglers:
Veggies! Worms prefer a vegetarian lifestyle. They love all different types of veggies and fruits — watermelon, bananas, cantalope, pumpkins, squash. They also have a sweet tooth — the sweeter the food the closer they get and the faster they reproduce!

Non-Food Items: Coffee grounds, filters, tea bags, moist newspaper, moist junk mail, egg shells.

Foods to Avoid: Lemons, dairy products (although mine have eaten cheese), meat products, onions only once in a while. I have experimented with pizza and bread products — they eat it, but it takes longer to break down. Definitely not recommended in the summer due to smell and flies.

Remember: The more you feed your Super Composting Red Wigglers, the more worms you’ll have. They can consume their own weight each day in food.

In the Event of Strong Odor: Stop adding food, and move the bedding around a bit. Let them consume what is there.

Step 5. Harvest the Super Red Wiggler Compost

After 3-4 months of feeding your Super Composting Red Wigglers, stop feeding them for about a week or so, depending on the amount of food left to consume. Once they bedding looks like dark soil (see photos), you are ready to harvest.

There are many ways to do this — pick the one that works best for you:

› Expose the bin to light. Let the composting worms crawl to the bottom, then remove layers of rich compost.
› Hand picking. It’s fun — especially with kids — but time consuming. Put worms in a bucket or new bin.
› Take clumps out and expose to light

While harvesting compost, search for yellow cocoons — many babies are in there. Put the cocoons with the worms to start a new bin and begin the whole process again!

It is important to change the bedding seasonally. Your Super Composting Red Wigglers are strong, but they can die in old bedding.

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