Anyone do vermicomposting (composting with worms)? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 46 Old 06-19-2005, 12:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Dh went to a composting class yesterday and bought a vermicomposting (composting with worms) bin. Does anyone have experience with these? Do you like them?
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#2 of 46 Old 06-19-2005, 05:38 PM
 
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i used to have a worm bin and i loved it! worm castings are the best form of compost i have ever used, when we moved we didn't bring our worm bin with us, but our new landlord got a hige barel composter for the garden here and it is great cuz it is a shared composter with 12 apartments

worm bins are great though, definitly my favorite form of compost

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#3 of 46 Old 06-19-2005, 06:35 PM
 
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I do! I do! I love our worm bin. It's a rubbermaid container with a lid under our kitchen table. We give them kitchen scraps (uncooked fruits and veggies) and shredded black and white paper.

My worst fear was that it'd be stinky, but it's not. It smells clean, like fresh dirt. My houseplants have never been healthier, I swear between the compost soup we feed them and the recent heat wave they've all had a major growth spurt.

I highly recommend it. My 19mo dd loves our worm bucket. She even throws her apple cores in herself.

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#4 of 46 Old 06-23-2005, 10:34 AM
 
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I have a huge old broken chest freezer out behind my shed that is full of worms. I have so many worms I have a hard time coming up with stuff to feed them. I usually have to go down to the bakery outlet and buy a big bag full of "pet bread" (its just several days old). It only costs a couple dollars. They love bread!

This thread reminds me that I need to get some castings out of there for the garden!!
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#5 of 46 Old 06-23-2005, 11:08 AM
 
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I don't have worms now <LOL!>

But I had a worm bin for about 3 years. It was awesome.

I used a regular compost heap for lawn and garden waste, and fed food scraps to the worms. It was nice not having to worry about my kids pulling disgusting rotted food out of the compost heap in the yard, and nice that the food didn't really last long enough in the worm bin to get gross ;->

(Yeah, I'm shallow ;-> There are other benefits, but those were important to me with kids that like to poke around like these two do.)
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#6 of 46 Old 06-27-2005, 08:42 PM
 
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I just went to a workshop, too, & it seems pretty simple. I am lookiing to get started within the next few weeks. Off to the bait shop.

I have so many scraps and I feel so guily throwing them away! Plus, my garden is growing slow and I need some compost.

No one has had any problems with bugs? Atilla the Honey you didn't drill any holes into yours? (I read an ealier thread)

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#7 of 46 Old 06-27-2005, 08:49 PM
 
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i had a problem with ants in mine, but it was one raised off the ground so i put the feet in containers of water that way the ants couldn't get into it, no problems with any other bugs though

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#8 of 46 Old 06-27-2005, 08:56 PM
 
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Great thread!
It has sparked a new interest for me....starting up a worm bin of my own!

a few questions, (if you don't mind )......


Can any kind of container work for a worm bin?
Where can a worm bin be stored?
Can worms that already exist in a compost pile be used to start a worm bin?

:
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#9 of 46 Old 06-27-2005, 09:01 PM
 
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I think we talked about this awhile back... I want to start, but I read that it is better to wait til the temps get a little cooler ie not 95F every day. I am just a little squeamish about having them inside my house though. Can anyone suggest a cheap and/or free set up for outside?
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#10 of 46 Old 06-27-2005, 10:06 PM
 
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Like I mentioned, I have a rather big rubbermaid container for our worm bin. It works fine. I've seen vermicomposting bins on the internet for $120! I think anything with a lid will work fine.

We store ours under our kitchen table (it's a rectangular table pushed against the wall). My friend stores hers in her laundry room.

As far as the types of worms to use, I am not an expert but I believe the best kinds of worms to use are 'red wigglers' because they eat the most and reproduce the fastest. Earthworms aren't good for indoor worm bins, they don't eat the right kind of stuff and also don't eat fast enough. Red wigglers will eat half their weight in kitchen waste a day. If you overfeed it's not a big deal but leads to mold blooms because the food is sitting in there too long. (Mold blooms don't require anything apart from waiting it out, they go away within a day or two.)

(No, I don't drill holes in my bucket. I've read you should, but it hasn't been necessary, so I haven't.)

Suwanee> Red wigglers don't live up north because they can't survive the winters here. Or so I was told. So, if you are up north and want an outdoor composting bin, don't use red wigglers. Dh told me they are abundant down south.

The cheapest, easiest set up for outside is to just dig a small hole and throw your kitchen waste in it. Cover with soil and wet down. Each day when you take your kitchen scraps out (no greasy foods, no cooked foods, no meat or dairy), turn it and dampen it if it looks dry. The worms in the soil will find it and do their thing, and you won't have to worry about the heat or the cold killing them.

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#11 of 46 Old 06-27-2005, 10:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Attila the Honey
Each day when you take your kitchen scraps out (no greasy foods, no cooked foods, no meat or dairy),

Why no cooked foods?
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#12 of 46 Old 06-28-2005, 07:20 AM
 
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I am not completely sure why, but I think it's because cooked food smells garbagey when it rots and it attracts flies. I would probably throw in some steamed broccoli, but I wouldn't give them cooked grains or leftover casserole. :LOL

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#13 of 46 Old 06-29-2005, 01:36 AM
 
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i used to add cooked food and never noticed a bad smell and the wormes seemed fine with it, i read that you arn't supposed to put in ornge peels though there is something in them that kills the worms it is in the book worms eat my garbage

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#14 of 46 Old 07-03-2005, 05:24 PM
 
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We have had one for over a year, It works well. I keep ours outside on the patio : I had it inside, but I didn't like the renegade worm or two...

I use a RUbbermaid with holes drilled around the outside. Just throw in some newsprint, food scraps and red wigglers, and you are all set...

I think I have super worms because they survive extrmeme heat quite well

DS loves our worm bin. He shows it to his friends :LOL
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#15 of 46 Old 04-22-2006, 10:10 PM
 
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Resurrecting this thread because I'm preparing to start vermicomposting. (DH said "no" to getting a goat - I'll show him ). Anyway, for anyone who bought red wigglers, how many did you get (# of pounds) & how much compost did you get out of them? We have alot of kitchen scraps, so I'm thinking I'd rather get too many than too few. My soil needs amending desperately & I could use the compost.

TIA
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#16 of 46 Old 04-23-2006, 08:08 AM
 
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In my experience, a worm bin isn't the most effective way to get compost. I've had mine for a year and a half now and it still hasn't *needed* emptying. It's great for getting rid of your kitchen scraps and you do get some compost out of it, but not enough for a veggie garden.

I was told that red wrigglers eat half their body weight a day. So, if you get a pound of worms, you can feed them half of a pound of scraps a day. I started with a pound and they multiplied fast, very very fast. If you overfeed them it's not the worst thing in the world, but it might make the compost bin stinky for a little while or lead to a mold bloom.

But, I want to stress that the worm bin is not stinky normally. That always seems to be everyone's fear. At it's worst, when we had a bout of 'anaerobic bacteria', it was only smelly when we opened it and it went away quickly. I've never been able to smell the compost with the lid on, and most of the time when I do open the lid it just smells like fresh, clean dirt.

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#17 of 46 Old 04-24-2006, 11:00 AM
 
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I never got around to getting red wigglers,but I have done composting with regular earthworms.I was in dire need of worms for our toads,and our new home boasted NO WORMS.So I just started digging,and dumping veg/fruit scraps,and we now have worms AND some good soil.Indoors I usually keep a bucket with earthworms and throw in a few scraps and newspaper moistened. Worm composting is great any way you do it.Suppliers charge a lot for that fertile end resulting poop
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#18 of 46 Old 04-25-2006, 12:06 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattemma04
I never got around to getting red wigglers,but I have done composting with regular earthworms.I was in dire need of worms for our toads,and our new home boasted NO WORMS.So I just started digging,and dumping veg/fruit scraps,and we now have worms AND some good soil.Indoors I usually keep a bucket with earthworms and throw in a few scraps and newspaper moistened. Worm composting is great any way you do it.Suppliers charge a lot for that fertile end resulting poop
i bet you've just got red worms in your yard. don't know where you are, but they live in the south where we are. they look just like earthworms, aka night crawlers, but they're smaller and they don't have to be as cool as earthworms. earthworms would die indoors. my dd1 has been on a worm kick for the past couple of days so we just went with it and bought some red wiggler worms at the bait store today. the guy that sold them said they'd be great for compost, but not to get the earthworms (night crawlers) 'cause they'd die inside. they have to be refrigerated in the bait shop.

here's a link we found about squirmin' herman the worm. dd1 has been really into it -- http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/worms/index.html . haven't gotten our bin quite ready yet, but our worms are hanging out in their little plastic container from the bait store. hope they make it through the night okay. i guess they will since he had tons of the little containers unrefrigerated out at the shop. we'll see in the morning .

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#19 of 46 Old 04-26-2006, 11:13 AM
 
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we love it.

we have a big rubbermaid, with holes drilled in it.

I don't put in meat or dairy, and really nothing except fruit and veggie matter.

Keep damp/moist cardboard on top of the bedding to prevent fruit flies from finding your scraps and laying eggs.


Make sure any scraps you add are buried under enough bedding to cover them completely---you won't have a fruit fly invasion if they can't lay their eggs on food, and they don't tunnel.


In about 2 weeks we'll harvest the compost, separate the worms and start over. This time I'll make 2 bins--I have lots of fruit and veggie scraps.


An aside--bait store worms cost considerably more than worms purchased by the pound for composting. I received my worms in two days and they were in great shape.


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#20 of 46 Old 04-26-2006, 11:29 AM
 
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my bait store worms cost $3 for a smallish container chock full of worms. they did make it through the night fine and seem to be happy in their new home. we're really doing it as an experiment because our dd1 decided she must have worms as pets. we have a big outdoor compost bin that is not as picky about what it recieves (leftover pizza and mac-n-cheese a-ok) so if dd1 tires of the worms we'll let them go outside (i think they'll survive in the south) and stick with our compost bins.

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#21 of 46 Old 04-26-2006, 11:45 AM
 
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$3 sounds like a decent amount---were they like the size of a small chinese food container of rice?

We ordered a pound for $20---about 5,000 worms---our local bait store was selling 50 for $5. I really wanted to make some compost so I splurged I got my neighbor in on it tool--her little girls are mad for them---you guys sound a lot like them, they keep a shallow rubbermaid under the table and put the scraps in right after eating. Her girls love it and are digging around in it all the time.

We both hauled our bins out this weekend to compare---there was a worm woodstock going on at the top of her bin--they were swarming all over some mangoes. I never saw anything like it. My bin was filled with lots of rich dark stuff though---so I didn't feel too jelous. Worm envy---I never saw that coming.
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#22 of 46 Old 04-26-2006, 12:40 PM
 
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yeah, maybe. it was like the size of the smallest take-out from whole foods. it definitely wasn't 5000 worms! whoo -- you must be ready to go into the worm business! we put them in a storage container i wrapped with brown kraft paper to keep dark (it was a translucent container we had around the house already). it's in the basement where it's a little cooler. gave 'em some food last night, but i haven't checked on them today to see if they ate any. dd1 wants to take them to school on friday. we'll see how it goes. kind of a fun experiment.

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#23 of 46 Old 04-26-2006, 12:57 PM
 
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I'm glad I saw this thread! I just posted under tribes about finding red worms in Houston. I was planning on starting small (I like to start small, then if it doesn't work out, no big deal...that's why my garden (first year!! yahoo!!) is tiny this year but definitely can be expanded) so I was going to start with a Sam's Club size coffee container (ya know, the big Folgers one). where do you recommend getting the worms? bait shop? Internet?
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#24 of 46 Old 04-26-2006, 11:35 PM
 
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wormwoman


These ladies offer loads of customer support too---when I ordered my worms they took several calls with my questions and patiently and gladly didn't get off the phone until I was satisfied.

A coffee can might be a bit too tiny---but you could try. I'd say something the size of a bread box would work quite nicely and be perfectly manageable.

There are lots of vermicomposting forums and info pages on the internet, and I've used them. I also purchased a copy of the book "worms eat my garbage". If you're not interested in buying the book ($12.95) you could see if your library has it.


Other than that, once you have worms, shredded newspaper or office paper and some water you're ready to go. Just make sure you're container can't leak, and that it has some way to deliver air to the wigglers. If you do use a coffee can you could punch holes in the lid with a nail, and use a hammer and nail to punch some along the side.


happy worm farming!
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#25 of 46 Old 04-26-2006, 11:44 PM
 
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Originally Posted by beanma
whoo -- you must be ready to go into the worm business!

I overestimated---I just checked and one pound equals !,000 worms, so that's what I started with. But they are multiplying fast, with little tiny babies and cocoons all over the bin. If I play my cards right I won't have to purchase any more no matter how many bins I want to start. But we are definately a two-bin household.

I would also prefer letting the worms compost all my kitchen scraps instead of my outdoor compost bin. i saw a little varmint in the outside bin and we live in an ultra urban environment. It's only a matter of time before the bigger varmints arrive: if I'm serving up rotten tomatoes, etc.

My neighbors would so not appreciate my compost bin filled with pestilent creatures.

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#26 of 46 Old 04-27-2006, 09:48 AM
 
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With the rubbermaid containers, where do you drill the holes? In the lid?

Thanks for the link Vixenmama!
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#27 of 46 Old 04-27-2006, 10:39 AM
 
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On the sides. I didn't do the lid, and I can't remember why....
We drilled these teeny tiny holes, about 25 per side and 15 on the ends.
When I harvest the compost I'll drill more, going down almost to the bottom of the bin. You can't have too many holes---it keeps the composting "aerobic" instead of "anerobic" (anerobic=foul stench)

I'll drill more holes leaving about 3" from the bottom undrilled, in case some, um, moisture develops down there (official name "leachate", a black soup of excess moisture that can collect at the bottom of a too moist bin. Harmless though gross, and excellent for plants. Also known as Compost "tea")

I'm really looking forward to going to a two bin system, because I had to throw away quite a bit of scraps---we produce much more vegetable matter than 1,000 worms can eat in a week.
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#28 of 46 Old 04-27-2006, 03:40 PM
 
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oh, yeah, don't want rats or other vermin in the compost pile, but we haven't had too much trouble with that. we're in a small town and near a creek and have tons of wildlife even though we're right in the middle of town. deer are regular visitors to our neighborhood and red tailed hawks, too, and possums and probably some vermin, too, but they don't seem to be regulars so most of our scraps go in the big bin. we have a ton of compost scraps. we belong to a CSA in the spring/summer/fall and have oodles of scraps from that. the worms are fun, though!

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#29 of 46 Old 04-27-2006, 09:56 PM
 
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Well, I bought a bin & now I just need to order the worms! I need to time it so they arrive on a day I don't work. I'll check out that wormwoman site. I had already been recommended the Acme Worm Farm site (unsure url). They are out of TX (Petersmamma) but I don't recall where in TX.

Quote:
Just make sure you're container can't leak
Funny, as the 2 sites I'd been recommended said to allow drainage & just make sure to keep the bin elevated & have something underneath in case it does leak. But since apparently that's not necessary, maybe I'll try not drilling holes on the bottom & just be vigilent about water content.

See how much I've learned already!!

I'm just a big, ol' heap of compost when it comes to my ability to make compost. OK, I don't layer greens & browns, I don't turn it. Guess it's my own fault. BUt I had my pile going for 2 years & when I tried to get compost off the bottom for my new gardens this spring, it was awful. I think mostly I'm just feeding the coons. (yeah, I don't bury my food waste, either.) And the bin is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay across the yard, so in winter the food scraps go in the garbage & I just HATE that!!! So I'm going to use the chicken-wire-like bin enclosure for growing potatoes in this year!!
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#30 of 46 Old 04-27-2006, 10:39 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Livi's Mama
Funny, as the 2 sites I'd been recommended said to allow drainage & just make sure to keep the bin elevated & have something underneath in case it does leak. But since apparently that's not necessary, maybe I'll try not drilling holes on the bottom & just be vigilent about water content.
I would say "vigilant" is way too strong a word to use here (implying too much work). I'd say just be mindful. With two little ones, two cats, three birds, etc., there's no way I'd be able to empty a catch pan regularly. I can just imagine the worm-juice-soup overflowing it's catch basin onto my basement floor. Ugh.
I didn't want to bother with the juices at all. That's the beauty of the rubbermaid bin as opposed to more porous material (say wood). It will keep everything contained. Here's how it worked out for me:


-I emptied the worms into the moist newspaper bedding. Let your tap water sit out overnight to let the chlorine evaporate before adding it to your bedding---your worms will thank you.

-Put some food scraps in and bury them in the bedding so none can be seen. They don't have to be fresh. Start saving them in a bowl you keep in the fridge when you place your worm order. The worms will be hungry after their trip.

-Put some largish pieces of moistened cardboard loosely on top of the whole thing. Put your lid on.

-Check your worms several times over the next day or so to make sure they like their home (mine immediately tried to escape due to chlorinated water)


When the weather started to warm up I noticed the compost at the bottom of the bin was getting wet and sticky. I added several more handfuls of bedding and changed the top layer of cardboard. Now the moisture balance is perfect. Not really vigilant, just mindful.

I'll be harvesting compost and starting over in about 2 weeks. Maybe I'll take some pictures.

It's the best for food scraps you don't want to waste. Enjoy!
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