Worms play a very crucial role in the ecosystem. These small creatures naturally till the earth while eating organic waste and producing a natural and odorless compost that helps plants thrive. You can create this environment at home by starting a worm compost bin. Worms live in the bin, where you feed them food scraps and other organic waste on a periodic basis. You can then harvest the worms’ compost (called vermicompost) every three to six months. This fun and educational hobby is also easy to start. You only need a worm compost bin and reds wiggler or other compost worms.
How to set up a worm composter
A worm composter is a medium-sized bin that features multiple holes for ventilation. The bin is typically made of plastic and is sometimes raised a few inches above the ground to allow for water drainage. Worms don’t need light, so you can place your worm compost bin either indoors or outside. If you prefer rearing your worms outside, a 5-15 gallon plastic bin or simple wooden box works, too. Note that worms are comfortable in the same temperatures (e.g., 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit) as humans, so be sure to bring them inside for extreme weather!
Each worm composting bin needs bedding for the worms to live in. There are many types of material that you can use as bedding. These include straw, peat moss, topsoil, composted leaves or grass, egg cartons, or shredded cardboard or paper. If you’re using an indoor bin, straw and leaves aren’t recommended since they can attract insects.
Where can you place the worm bin?
As stated, you can either place the worm composting bin outside or inside. Each of these places has pros and cons. You’ll likely have more space outdoors, so you won’t have to worry about cluttering your home. But keeping your bin indoors eliminates the risk of weather impacting your worms.
Tips on how to buy worms
Red wigglers are the most commonly used worms for worm compost bins. These worms break down organic material to produce high-quality compost. You can get these worms shipped directly to your home.
What can you feed the worms?
Worms eat different types of fruits and vegetable waste. Avoid giving the worms citrus, tomato-based products, foods high in salt or oil, dairy products, meat, or any other animal products. It is also advised against giving worms any animal feces. In addition to feeding them plant matter, you can consider other items like napkins, coffee grounds, and non-plastic tea bags.
Common worm composting issues and how to solve them
Knowing the exact amount of food to place in the bin can save you a lot of problems. Always feed and water your worm bin in moderation. Never bury the food and feed the worms only after the last feeding is completely gone. Other common challenges you are likely to experience include:
Fruit flies in the worm bin
You can prevent this problem by feeding the worms in small increments that they can consume quickly.
Worm compost bins almost never smell. If they do start to emit an odor, it likely is the result of rotting food waste. You can solve the issue by breaking the food into smaller pieces and feeding the worms smaller amounts they can consume quickly. This will make it easier for the worms to digest the food and ensure they eat it quickly before problems occur.
Worms getting out of the bin
When worm bins are well-managed, worms almost never try to escape. If you do find a few worms trying to get out of the bin, the issue is usually attributed to their environment. Increased moisture, changes in temperature, or rotting food can all cause worms to try to escape. If the worm bin gets too wet, add some bedding. If it is too dry, add some water. If the bin smells, try removing any leftover food and then mixing in new bedding for your worms.
When making changes, less is usually more so when you try something new do it in moderation, be patient, and observe what is working and not working with your worms!
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