THE ART OF SMALL-SCALE

Worms can live happily in either plastic or wooden containers no deeper than 8" to 12" to prevent anaerobic bacteria from growing. For general bin sizing use the following guidelines:
 

Number of People            Bin Size (l*w*h)

        1-2                                1' * 1.5' * 2'

        2-3                                1' * 2' * 2'

       4 - 6                              1' * 2' * 3.5'

 
Your vermi-bin should have plenty of airholes in its sides and top. Holes are also needed in the bottom of the container for drainage. There should be at least 8 to 10 holes drilled in the bottom, approximately 1cm or 1/4" in size. The bin should then be set on blocks with a tray underneath.
 

The next thing you will have to do is to prepare `bedding’ for your worms! Many different materials can be used. Here are a few of the best:

Cardboard & Paper:
Shred and soak in water before using. Remember, don’t use waxed, bleached, glossy or coloured paper!
 

Soil:
Loam or black topsoil makes a good bedding material. It is best mixed with other materials such as newspaper or leaves.
 

Peatmoss:
This needs to be soaked in water overnight and then squeezed to the consistency of a damp sponge. To neutralize the acidic conditions, mix the peatmoss with crushed egg shells.

 
Leaves:
These need to be shredded first and again, work best mixed with other materials. Be careful of bugs that may come indoors on the leaves.
 

Now, you need to fill the bin with about a foot of bedding material. It should be no damper than a wrung-out-sponge -- not soggy but not dry.

 
Vermicomposting!
 

Now comes the fun part . . . adding the worms!

The worms that are the best composters are red worms, commonly known as "red wigglers". Red wigglers are normally found in barnyard manure piles, rotting leaf piles or compost piles. They work better than regular earthworms in indoor temperatures and in high density conditions. Their populations can double in only a few months as they reproduce well in captivity.

These worms grow up to 3" or 4" in length and have shiny skin with a reddish tinge. They will eat their weight in waste each day and the castings they produce serve as rich fertilizer.
 
Red wigglers hate bright lights and like to live in nice dark places. The worms prefer moderate living temperatures. Ideal places to keep these creatures include in corners, cupboards, under tables or at the top of stairs.
 

Moisture:
Worms like their homes to be only as damp as a wrung-out-sponge. Make sure to drain food wastes before feeding the worms!
 

Air:
Your red wigglers need air for aerobic decomposition. Make sure there are sufficient holes in the top, sides, and bottom of the bin. Anaerobic decomposition stinks!
 

Temperature:
Your worms don’t like to be too hot or too cold. Keep them out of direct sunlight or heated areas. If outside, the worms should be brought indoors when temperatures drop to 4oC.
 

Food:
Food waste to us = food to your worms. They will eat anything that decomposes but they do not need to be fed everyday. Avoid overfeeding.

 

Finished Compost
 
After 2 to 3 months of vermicomposting you will notice that the volume of material in your bin has dropped and the original bedding is no longer recognizable. It is now time to harvest the finished compost!

There are many ways to do this and they are outlined below:

 
One-Step:
Remove the lid. Scoop out a layer of compost. Wait a few minutes for the worms to burrow deeper into the bedding and then scoop out another layer. Do this until you see a mass of red wigglers at the bottom. Pour worms out on a plastic sheet while you prepare a new bedding. Return the worm and any uncomposted food scraps to the bin.
 

Back and Forth:
Remove lid and move compost to one side. Put new bedding on the other side and add food scraps to this. Cover only this side with plastic or the lid. Worms will migrate from the finished compost to the new pile within a two week time period. Under a bright light scoop out finished compost and spread out the newer bedding.
 

Dump and Sort:
Pour contents of bin onto a plastic sheet. Under bight lights make small pile of the contents. The worms will burrow down to the bottom of each pile. After a few minutes scoop finished compost off sides and top of each pile. Rotate from pile to pile and continue in layers. Return worms and new bedding to the bin.

 

Congratulations! You have now successfully vermicomposted and have a rich, sweet smelling soil conditioner to use. There are many ways to use this to make your home or gardens grow beautifully!
 

Potting Soil:
Mix equal parts of compost with earth and peatmoss.

House plants:
Add compost to soil, water and watch grow!

Garden:
Dig compost into earth around flowers, shrubs, trees and vegetables.

Lawn:
Use as top dressing and sprinkle over lawn or rake into grass.

Compost Tea:
Mix 1 part compost to 3 parts water. Let sit overnight. Stir, water plants, and watch them bloom!

 
**Save compost for the needy plants like your roses and vegetables!**

 

Trouble Shooting
 

Here are a number of problems and solutions that are commonly found among vermicompost users.

 
Fruit Flies:

 

Odour:

This is a sign of low oxygen in bedding and degrading compost.

 

Grey Mould in Bin:

This is caused by overfeeding.

 

Worm Die Off:      

 
Worm Food: A diet of champions!
 
Please be careful ...I don’t like
   
 
  Advantages to Vermicomposting
 
Creates sweet smelling compost!
 
Not a lot of space is needed!
 
There is little maintenance needed! (you can still take vacations without worry)
 
Can be done indoors all year round!
 
Ideal for apartments or offices!
 
The vermi-bin is heaven to the worms - they won’t escape!

 
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