Worm Composting Anyone?


MoonShadows

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Over the years I have had a compost pile for my leaves, grass clippings and kitchen scraps, and I use the new soil for my vegetable gardens. When I turn it, there are always tons of worms. This year, in addition to my outdoor compost pile, I decided to buy a VermiHut Worm Compost Bin to harvest the worm castings. Adding worm castings to the soil aerates and improves its overall structure while providing beneficial nutrients to plants. They are also effective for repelling many pests that feed on plants, such as aphids and spider mites.

Is anyone else doing this? How is it going for you? This is the composter I bought.
51tfjD3McYL._SY355_.jpg


Here is a pic of my composter a couple of days after I got it started with 500 red wigglers. You can see some worms on top of the newspaper; most are on the coir around the sides.
015-Apr-26.jpg


I watched a YouTube video recently that explained these little worms can eat 50% of their body weight everyday. And, the food scraps should be broken down to extremely small pieces. I realized I was not feeding them enough and my scraps are too large, so I started putting the scraps in a blender. I have started feeding them more and making the food into a pulp.

This is a mixture of cucumber, ear of corn, carrots, celery and an apple about an hour after I put it in. You can see how fast the worms have surfaced to start feeding.
018-Jun_14.jpg


I would be interested in feedback from anyone who is composting like this. What have you found that works, doesn't work for you for a good yield of castings? Thanks.
 
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addy1

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I have been doing it for years, (a tub in our spare bathroom) they love some coffee grounds every now and then.

I usually toss the stuff in whole they do inhale it, just takes longer. I do cut rotted apples, to smaller pieces, lettuce goes fast, tomatoes etc.

Beautiful black compost and no smell. The plants love it.
 
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We love our worm composter!
We have a large Rubbermaid tub that is full now with castings.
I'm not looking forward to separating the worms from the pile though.
I looked at the setup you have, MoonShadows. I think it's about as good a setup as you can get for worm composting. Worms are still going to get everywhere, including the drain tap.

Fruit flies are inevitable. You can freeze things before they go in the composter which will kill the eggs, but laziness usually takes over and it only takes one time for you to add some items straight from your kitchen that will produce some fruit flies.

Because of our climate, the tub is indoors for most of the year inside the greenhouse where it's cool but not frozen, outside on the shaded deck during the summer. We don't have a basement, which would be an ideal location.

It's incredible how much vegetable and paper waste those worms can process.
 

MoonShadows

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I have a filter that keeps them from getting into the bottom tray that holds the tea. Let's see if it works! Every once in a while I get an escapee trying to make a break for it across the floor. They can squeeze out under the lid if I am not careful about putting it back on snugly. I had it in our kitchen, but the fruit flies became annoying, so I moved it outside onto a shaded porch. Good tip on freezing things first, but outside the fruit flies don't bother me. When I put it down in the basement for the winter, I'll have to freeze things...since my greenhouse is not a 12 month greenhouse, putting them out there would kill them. My understanding is that as you add trays (we are still working on tray number one), the worms will crawl up a tray to get to the new food, and the casting won't be full of worms and easier to remove. I think my biggest mistake was probably not giving them enough food over the first month and a half. I can't believe how much they are consuming. I used to buy castings every year, but they are expensive. I got this composter on sale, so it should pay for itself eventually.
 
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My understanding is that if the worms are trying to escape the compost pile, there's something wrong with the conditions. (usually too wet)
It's a balancing act, as with all things in nature.(y)
 

addy1

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Mitch, I pull the worm filled stuff to one side, stuff the other side with paper, scraps etc and some of the compost, the worms migrate (well a lot of them do) to the other some still end up being put in a flower pot or wherever you are using it.

I'm not looking forward to separating the worms from the pile though
 
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Another way of reducing fruit fly population is to make sure you always have a layer of dry shredded paper on top of the compost. Sometimes though, the worms will consume that layer and you have a fruitfly friendly environment again.
Freezing does work but it seems a little counter intuitive to use electricity to manage your environmentally friendly worm composter.o_O
 
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Mitch, I pull the worm filled stuff to one side, stuff the other side with paper, scraps etc and some of the compost, the worms migrate (well a lot of them do) to the other some still end up being put in a flower pot or wherever you are using it.
Yeah, my bin is so full, I'm going to have to either dump it out on a large table and sort it that way or just put the compost, worms and all, onto the plants. I'm sure I'll have lots of worms left anyways.
 

MoonShadows

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My understanding is that if the worms are trying to escape the compost pile, there's something wrong with the conditions. (usually too wet)
It's a balancing act, as with all things in nature.(y)
It's only been a couple that I've caught. I have a moisture and pH meter, and both readings are within the recommended parameters.
 

MoonShadows

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Another way of reducing fruit fly population is to make sure you always have a layer of dry shredded paper on top of the compost. Sometimes though, the worms will consume that layer and you have a fruitfly friendly environment again.
Freezing does work but it seems a little counter intuitive to use electricity to manage your environmentally friendly worm composter.o_O
Thanks, I'll have to try the newspaper on top and see how much it helps.
 

MoonShadows

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I read under good conditions, the worm population can double every 90 days.

Are you both using red wigglers?
 
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Do any of you worm farmers have a shredder that you use for newspaper/cardboard? We have lots of cardboard that I would love to use in my composting, but breaking it down into pieces that will decompose relatively quickly is a chore. In the fall I just flatten out boxes and lay them on top of all my garden beds and cover with shredded leaves. But the rest of the time I would love to find a shredder that can make fast work of cardboard.

I haven't started a worm farm yet, but we bought these last year:

4x4_Keyhole_Classic1_388_large.png


Instead of using all soil (which is expensive if you have to buy it) we filled the bottom 2/3 with cardboard, grass clippings, leaves, garden waste, kitchen waste, etc., in layers. Then we added about 10 or 12 inches of good garden soil in the top. By the end of the first year, the depth had gone down enough that I could layer more cardboard and shredded leaves on the top. All winter long I dumped the pulp from our green juicing on top of the garden beds. By this spring these two beds were TEEMING with red wigglers. Never added any worms - they just found us! The center portion is designed to hold compostable material during the growing season - I dump my coffee grounds and other kitchen compostables in there, but I have to be careful because my raccoon friend found out my secret. So I lay some cardboard or newspaper over the top. That seems to keep her interest at bay! The composting material in the center also feeds the beds all during the growing season with nutrients and encourages the worms to travel through the bed.

I love these beds because our yard is small (OK - my yard is mostly pond! haha!) so I don't have as much room to compost as I would like. "Composting in place" has been a great solution for us!
 

MoonShadows

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I used to have a paper shredder, but it broke, and I never replaced it. Never saw a home cardboard shredder. I like that composting garden. Where did you get them?
 
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I kept a compost for a year but the cold weather makes it impossible to keep them outside and I certainly am not bringing them inside... my wife would have a fit. The fish enjoyed eating the worms when I used to toss them in the pond. My worms used to inhale watermelon.
 
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@MoonShadows great topic, worm composting is something i would like to try. Currently I have 3 compost bins set up for leaves, grass clippings and food scrapes.

How large is your rubbermaid tub?
This is the Rubbermaid hinged tote I'm using:
http://www.canadiantire.ca/en/pdp/rubbermaid-hinged-top-tote-114-l-0423479p.html

The size is 32"x20"x17"
The price up here was about $15. I drilled some holes in the sides, top and bottom.
You will get some leakage out of the bottom holes.
 
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Do any of you worm farmers have a shredder that you use for newspaper/cardboard? We have lots of cardboard that I would love to use in my composting, but breaking it down into pieces that will decompose relatively quickly is a chore. In the fall I just flatten out boxes and lay them on top of all my garden beds and cover with shredded leaves. But the rest of the time I would love to find a shredder that can make fast work of cardboard.

I haven't started a worm farm yet, but we bought these last year:

View attachment 101011

Instead of using all soil (which is expensive if you have to buy it) we filled the bottom 2/3 with cardboard, grass clippings, leaves, garden waste, kitchen waste, etc., in layers. Then we added about 10 or 12 inches of good garden soil in the top. By the end of the first year, the depth had gone down enough that I could layer more cardboard and shredded leaves on the top. All winter long I dumped the pulp from our green juicing on top of the garden beds. By this spring these two beds were TEEMING with red wigglers. Never added any worms - they just found us! The center portion is designed to hold compostable material during the growing season - I dump my coffee grounds and other kitchen compostables in there, but I have to be careful because my raccoon friend found out my secret. So I lay some cardboard or newspaper over the top. That seems to keep her interest at bay! The composting material in the center also feeds the beds all during the growing season with nutrients and encourages the worms to travel through the bed.

I love these beds because our yard is small (OK - my yard is mostly pond! haha!) so I don't have as much room to compost as I would like. "Composting in place" has been a great solution for us!

My concern with a compost only grow bed is that the temperature in the compost pile could get quite hot and kill a lot of plants that you are trying to grow.
 
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Oh, ok. So it's essentially a raised garden bed. We use those, they're great because they are too tall for voles to jump into and you can screen the bottom to prevent their entry from the bottom.
I think as long as you don't exceed about 40% compost to topsoil mix, I think you'll be ok.
 

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