Why should you consider composting with Worms? Using worms in your compost will speed up the process to breakdown your compost, create higher quality compostable soil and save you money.
By putting worms into your compost the composting organic material is made richer as the worms consume compost and create castings. Castings act as a catalyst for the compost to breakdown, improving the quality of your compost and reducing the time to produce soil. Producing your own compostable soil and tea reduces your need to buy compost soil and fertilizers.
Getting Started: We recommend you start by finding or building a worm bin. You can learn how to build a worm bin by reading our ‘Build Your Own Worm Bin’ article. If you don’t want to build a worm bin, we sell them on Growandmake.com. Be sure that whatever you use has holes for aeration to let air in and moisture out and is made of a non-toxic material (no styrofoam or painted interiors). If you use wood, remember that it will eventually decay and require repair or replacement. My neighbor had his new wooden worm bin rot through after one year in our Portland weather. Another important consideration is access to the bin contents for turning and removal of the compost. Also, if you have a way to collect the compost tea, it’s a great fertilizer for your yard and garden.
Next you’ll need to find worms to add to the compost. Red Wigglers are the most popular, but you can also use European nightcrawlers, which may be a little harder to find. If you have a good source for worms, then don’t buy them, collect and fill your worm bin with the worms you have access to. Typically a 4×4 worm bin will accommodate 2000 worms.
Be sure to keep your compost between 50 and 86 degrees farehenheit, to ensure the worms survival. Keeping a compost thermometer in your compost is not a bad idea, to monitor soil temperatures when the ambient temperature reaches extremes. Every week it’s a good idea to add moist newspaper to provide adequate moisture for the worms survival. Also, if you keep your bin outside, try to keep it against a wall and under an eave if possible. This will reduce exposure to the elements. I keep mine in our basement to ensure that it doesn’t freeze or overheat, but there is some odor when I don’t keep up with the compost soil and tea removal.
Make sure that you have a lid on your worm bin both to keep rodents out and to minimize any odor seepage. Typically a worm bin won’t smell strongly, as long as it is well maintained and the compost and tea removed regularly.
Maintenance: Be sure to occasionally stir your compost. When your compost reaches a point where it has few scraps you’ll want to harvest it from the bin. You’ll want to try and leave the worms in the bin, unless your soil is depleted and has few worms. If you use a worm factory or stacking bin, you can rotate the trays as you remove the compost soil layer.
During the composting process, you can capture the water run-off from your bin and use it as a great liquid fertilizer or pour it back into the bin and mix it back into the soil. Also, don’t be surprised to discover what look like maggots or large flies in your bin. These are part of the composting process and should be left to work their magic.
Our video on the Worm Factory