How to make a Worm Compost at Home & Why compost with Worms
Earthworms are great if you are looking to catch some trout but I prefer the vermicomposting red wigglers, the all mightly Eisenia foetida working for me. What a job they do!
They take all my kitchen waste and turn it into black gold in a matter of months in high season. Winter months slow down respectively. Time to rest.
Why compost with Worms
The worm compost complete with worm castings is amazing for the garden. This compost with sand helps lighten our clay soils while enriching the earth.
For years we’ve been composting with worms. With each year is a new lesson so it seems.
Apparently under perfect conditions these composting red wiggler worms can double their population in a matter of 90 days!
It all started with a pile of horse manure, from there it went to using tires which turned out to be a huge hassle & a big mess. Great idea however. Seems the worms enjoyed it & suspect the heavy rubber of the tires help insulate them as well.
The use of tires for vermicomposting has become a thing of the past.
Instead now the use of big rubbermaid containers is working perfectly.
Holes have been drilled all along the outer edge & bottom for the purpose of drainage & air.
Lids have been custom made so to keep out too much moisture but the raccoons especially. So far no problems.
How to Make a Worm Compost at Home
Find the perfect container or use a 4×4 piece of wire, secured with posts. Containers are preferred so the worms stay contained more than an open compost.
The biggest deal is air. Avoid compaction of composting bedding.
Have piles of shredded paper on hand. Previously moistened & rung out is best. Paper preferably without color ink dyes. Ground up eggs shells to a fine powder needed for the worms to help them digest the composted kitchen waste. Collect all vegetable cuttings, trimmings & peelings.
Start with sticks broke into small pieces, twigs & such
to place at the bottom of the compost container. Layer with twigs, leaves, paper, lawn clippings, a bit of fine soil, sand, ground eggshells.
Worms from last clean out were sprinkled on top in this photo but ideally, dig a hole in the bedding & place the worms inside.
Can layer again with twigs, paper, a bit of fine soil and then the kitchen scraps. Sprinkle a bit of egg shell for good measure. Ideally the container should consist of 1/2 bedding & 75% water. That’s moist but not wet.
Gently water & securely cover. Covers should have air holes drilled in as well. Rock lid down if necessary.
When your kitchen compost becomes full, just add it to the worm bins & sprinkle a big of egg shells & cover. Usually 1x per week. If you find the compost is ever too wet just add more shredded paper or add more water gently.
Rotating worm bins for a finished product while adding kitchen scraps to the first bin will aid in an endless supply of black earth.
Within a few months the worms have worked their magic.
The lids from the rubbermaid containers are used for the bottoms. Although collecting worm compost manure is something regularly done, the lids of the rubbermaid containers are used to sit the containers on. Some compost tea collects & have gathered some but for the most part when manure tea is require, a five gallon bucket half full of steer manure, topped with water and allowed to sit for a few days is the manure tea supply used here.
Vermicomposting is for the black earth made from the red wigglers & is reserved exclusively for soil amendment.
Winter months are concerning. usually bales of hay are propped up the sides of these bins although short of bringing the worms in for Winter, the freezing cold winter temperatures is not recommended. Red composting worms prefer temperatures between 55-75F. Something to consider.
How to Clean Worm Compost Bins
Easily enough, simply scoop out as much of the black gold as possible without taking too many worms. This can be done by scraping the top layer off. The worms will naturally migrate down. Keep skimming the top until most of the compost is removed.
Have another bin already full of bedding. Simply create the hole in the center of the new bedding & place the worms & the left over compost in the bin that was just cleaned out.
Bins can be turned out and worms manually removed. Great if you have kids who often love this project but tedious otherwise. Using the top scraping method is much easier and works just as well. The idea is to retain as many worms as possible to repopulate the new worm compost bin.
How to Get your own Composting Worms
The idea was to populate & repopulate. We’re still populating. The easiest and most cost effective way to gain red wigglers is to get a pile of horse manure. Within months when dug into, there can be found the red wigglers.
Quite distinctive comparing with earth worms, so dig in and leave the edges.
In high season under the green cone lid, red wigglers can be found there as well and along the inside rim of the composter.
Composting worms can also be purchased from Nurseries or from suppliers online.
A properly combine worm composting bin should never emit odor. People have been know to worm compost under their kitchen sink! Watch to not overfeed the worms.
This is how to make a worm compost at home for very little cost & why I compost with worms is because it is quick. Seems a lot quicker than the green cone but that in itself is valued for it’s own virtues none the less. They both work great & it’s fun.