Why worm composting? Red worms reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills or incinerators, produce vermicompost and reduce the need for chemical fertilizer.
What is vermicompost (worm compost)? Vermicompost is a natural soil amendment that is produced by red worms who eat what we used to throw away. It works best when fresh, and can be used on lawns, gardens, flowers and houseplants.
Why use vermicompost? Vermicompost is a light fertilizer (usually between .5/.5/.5 to 1/1/1 N/K/P), contains other helpful elements, contains a large number of microbes (when fresh) and helps improve the soil structure.
How much do I use? Exact amounts are not critical with vermicompost since it will not burn your plants, is slow release and is natural. Suggested application rates are 1 lb/200 sf of lawn (25 lb for 1/4 acre), 1 lb/100 sf of garden, top dressing throughout the growing season for flowers and throughout the year for houseplants.
What type of worms do I use? Red worms/red wigglers. They feed on microbes and fungi that breakdown leaves and manures in nature.
What about night crawlers, can I use them? Night crawlers are deep burrowing worms that won’t be happy in your bin. Red worms will feel right at home.
How much do I feed them? Early on, not much, they can feed on the bedding and compost that is included with the worms. After they are settled you can start feeding them about half their body weight per day. In mature flow thru bins the worms can reportedly eat more than their body weight per day.
What do I feed them and how do I prepare it? Fruit and fruit scraps (light pineapple, light with citrus), vegetables and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and filters and tea bags. Mine love melon rinds and rabbit manure. Avoid meat and dairy products and dog, cat and pig manure. The smaller the particle size the quicker it is ready for the worms to eat. If you throw the food in whole it will take a week or two to break down. If you blend the food into soup or freeze and thaw the scraps it can be ready in less than a day. I cut the scraps into smaller pieces. Do what you want. Remember the worms are working for you!!
Will it smell? If it smells you are doing something wrong. You are either adding meat or dairy, adding too much food at one time, or not covering the food with dry bedding.
How soon will I get worm compost? The first day! But it will be very hard to harvest that soon. You can expect a pound of red worms to produce 5 lbs of worm compost every month.
How fast will they multiply? -- In ideal conditions they can double in weight after 60 days. Expect it to take closer to 90 or 120 days. And if you’re not counting them does it really matter. They will regulate their numbers based on conditions, space and food. If you get too many in one bin, start another.
What is Aerated Worm Compost Tea? It is water that has been aerated with worm compost and molasses in it. This “tea” is not for humans but for your soil. The aerated tea will have a “good” microbe/fungi population explosion that your soil and plants will love and “bad” microbe/fungi will hate.