Thursday, June 5, 2014

How To Set Up Your Vermicomposting Bin

Digger Jones here, with more on setting up your worm composting bin.

Originally posted 7-5-09

Vermicomposting Series:

First Entry: Vermicomposting Guide (Introduction to me and my friends)
Second Entry: Red Worms for Composting
Third: Indian Blues Composting Worms
Fourth: European Nightcrawlers for Composting
Fifth: Use a Mix of Composting Worms

So you want to start a vermicomposting bin?

There are four things you'll need:
  1. A container
  2. Some bedding
  3. Some worms
  4. Some table scraps
make worm compost
"Table scraps? What table scraps?  I don't know
 about any table scraps.?

There is one thing you don't need:
  1. A dog as big as me who eats all the table scraps.
(When my "persons" first brought me home, they were looking for a lap dog.  And it worked out o.k. for a while.  But when I crossed the 80 pound mark, it just wasn't feasible anymore.)

What Kind of Vermicomposting Bin to Use

You probably have something lying around the house that could serve as a worm bin: plastic totes or wooden boxes.  If you don't have anything suitable, you can pick up a plastic tote at Walmart or Home Depot, you can make a wooden box, or you can buy a commercially made vermicomposting bin.  If you have the time, you can save some money by making your own. 

But, if time is at a premium, there are worm bins out there that are pretty economical.  So, you can spend from $5.00 for a plastic tote to $40 for a simple worm bin, to $180 plus for a super-duper "worm condo".  It's a personal thing.

If you're not sure this worm composting thing is going to work out for you and you just want to give it a try, I would opt for the least expensive.  Then, if you see it's something your family can commit to and you enjoy it, you can always splurge on the worm condo.

Getting Started With Your Worm Bin

Let's say, for the purposes of this blog, you've decided on the simple worm bin.  It's all ready to go, you don't have to drill any holes or find a suitable lid.  You can order your worm compost bin and red worms and get started quickly and easily.  (Quick and easy.  I like that.  Sorta like when I just go stand by my food bowl and, like magic, it's filled up.   I'm telling ya, there's something to be said for being a dog.)

This simple, effective (though I wouldn't say "magical") vermicomposting bin we're going to set up is the "Worm Friendly Habitat" .  Worm friendly meaning it's designed to keep your worms alive and has all the attributes needed to allow them to turn your kitchen waste into rich organic fertilizer:
  • It has a black snap-on lid that fits so the worms can't crawl out (if they've a mind to).
  • There are holes in the lid, in the sides, and in the bottom for air flow and excess water drainage.
  • The holes are situated so as to not let the worms crawl out (again, if they've a mind to).
  • There's a tray for catching any excess water (hopefully, you won't have any.  More on that later).
  • There are little legs to keep the bottom away from the tray for aeration.
  • There's plenty of room for adding bedding, worms, and food for several weeks.
  • It's attractive and  not too big.  There are built in handles for carrying.  It's not heavy: 6 pounds.
How to worm compost
The dimensions on the "Worm Friendly Habitat" vermicomposting bin are 22.5"L x 17.5"W x 12.5"T.  This size (14 gallons) will take care of 3-5 pounds of food waste per week.  A red worm will eat its own weight every day.  This amount will include the bedding as well as the food he/she (they're both, you know) eats.  If your goal is to compost all your kitchen waste, you should keep track of your kitchen waste per day and then decide how many worm bins you'll need.

A good rule of thumb:  the average person generates from one to 1 1/2 pounds of kitchen waste per week.  So, one of these worm bins would probably do for a family of four.

Next..... Worm Bin Bedding

Check back next time when we'll prepare the bedding to put those little wigglers in,  all snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug.

I'm off to get in line for those table scraps.

Vermicomposting Resources

How to make vermicompost

Red Worms: Nature's premier composting earthworm

European Nightcrawlers: Excellent composting worm and THE best fishing worm

VermaPlex®: Worm composting bedding enhancer

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