Getting Started

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Here we have a standard 18 gallon Rubbermaid bin that has been converted to a worm bin.

Before we go any further please take the time to read this .pdf from the University of Florida. It is very short and will help you understand the basics of maintaining your worm population. http://duval.ifas.ufl.edu/documents/CompostingwithWorms.3.26.11_000.pdf

OK,  you can see that I drilled some 1/4” holes in the top of the lid. The same was done but perhaps even more to the bottom of the bin. Really, I should have some holes drilled into the bin near the top where about an inch or two below where the lid snaps on. Simple.

Next, I would prepare the bin with 2 or 3 gallons of peat moss. Make sure to hydrate it well. Half a can of organic aloe or coconut water added to the peat moss will really help with this. Take a few sheets of newspaper and shred it up fairly small and mix it with the peat moss. You want this material wet enough so that when you take a handful and squeeze it only a drop or two comes out. Too wet can cause stinky anaerobic conditions, small worms and a small population. Too dry will hurt population size and potentially kill most, if not all worms if allowed to persist. This is basic worm bedding and will give the worms a safe place to stay if conditions in the bin should become less than ideal. A small handful of sand, dolomite lime, or rock dust should also be added. It will provide grit for the worms digestive tract.

After this step you can add your worms and worm culture to one corner of the bin. If you would like to recycle food scraps place them in the farthest corner from where you originally placed the worms and worm culture. Try not to feed the worms too much! After one side of the bin starts to fill up it should be safe to start adding food scraps to the other side. Once that side is full…switch to the other and repeat.

If for some reason your bin becomes to wet. Shred up some cardboard and mix it into your wormbin. For those of you that really want to see your worms in action try to maintain your bin so you can lay a piece of cardboard down on top of the material nice and flat. Even if this means adding some peat moss to one side of the bin. You should be able to see plenty of worms under the cardboard and this will help you keep an eye on how much they are eating. If the food scraps start to get stinky simply place some newspaper or peat moss on top of it and this should help.

These small bins are great for getting started, but honestly, they can only really hold a pound of worms or so. They are also slow at producing vermicompost, especially using the method outlined above. For those that simply want to keep food scraps and have a little vermicompost for gardening they are wonderful.

As always feel free to ask any questions or comments.

2 thoughts on “Getting Started

  1. For those of you who have access to your own compost this process is simpler. Fill the bin about half way up with compost or completely if you prefer. Add your worms. Done.

    If you fill the bin all the way up with compost you should have 10-12 gallons of vermicompost in roughly 2- 3 months or less with around 1lb of worms. The only maintenance likely required is the need to remove the worms in order to harvest the vermicompost.

    Edit: This only works w/ well aged compost that no longer heats up when it is in a pile! As long as the compost is ‘cool’ then it should be ‘cool’ for the worms.

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  2. For those beginners out there I’d like to share with you this design. It is essentially a mini-vertical flow through. It will be much more effective than the standard bin I posted above or even a Worm Inn. It will eliminate the need to separate worms from castings also. I would highly recommend it for smaller applications.

    http://www.klickitatcounty.org/SolidWaste/FilesHtml/Organics/OscrJunior.pdf#page=1&zoom=page-fit,-792,1024

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