Please welcome the newest members of Misty Meadows Homestead…WORMS!
I’ve been interested in Vermiculture (Worm Farming) for quite some time. My first exposure to this system was about 10 years ago when my progressive employer implemented their Integrated Waste Management Plan, enlisting the help of worms to cut down on breakroom waste. Oddly enough, it was quite the privilege being assigned the task of worm feeding, though looking back, I think our worms were over worked, over fed and underpaid…much like myself!
According to the website, WormPoop.com
“Vermiculture is the process of using worms to decompose organic food waste, turning the waste into a nutrient-rich material capable of supplying necessary nutrients to help sustain plant growth. This method is simple, effective, convenient, and noiseless. It saves water, energy, landfills, and helps rebuild the soil.”
Yes, you read that right – worm poop!!
Red wiggler worms (Eisenia Fetida) are the best type of worm for this job. They can eat half their body weight in a single day; and other than food, shelter, and bedding, they require very little care; and the castings (worm poop) they provide is a nutrient-rich fertilizer, also called Vermicompost.
By the way,”vermi” is Latin for “worm” … You know you were wondering! Ha!
Our local Extention offers courses in gardening and composting. If you’re interested in either topic, I encourage you to contact your local Extention office. Many offer classes for a nominal fee or free of charge.
Yesterday, our Extention not only offered a free Worm Composting class, they provided the materials to build our own vermicomposting system (worm bin) – including the worms, which you might not know, are pretty expensive: one pound (approximately 1000 worms) can go for $30! I’m thinking side business opportunity!
Setting up a Worm Bin is a lot easier than I thought it would be.
To build one like mine, you need:
- 1 ten gallon plastic tote, with a lid.
- Bedding material. Shredded paper works well, just don’t use the shiny kind you find adverts on.
- Water to lightly moisten the paper.
- Some food for your worms.
- More lightly dampened bedding.
That’s pretty much it. There are some additional steps along the way, like drilling holes in the lid to provide airflow and a few more at one end of the bin, which also provides for air flow and Leachate flow.
Leachate (though pronounced the same, is nothing like Leache, which is Spanish for Milk) is the liquid that drains from a worm bin; it is also referred to as, Worm Tea. Diluted with water, it makes an amazing liquid fertilizer, that some say is better than Miracle G.
Here is a list of foods that will keep your worms happy and healthy (and not so healthy):
- Fruit and vegetable scraps, such as peels, rinds, cores, etc.
- Cereals, grains, bread.
- Coffee grounds and paper filter, tea bags, eggshells.
- Yard clippings.
- Limit the amount of citrus fruits that you place in the bin.
- NO MEATS, BONES, OILS OR DAIRY PRODUCTS.
Feedings need to be intentional, rather than haphazard. Food needs to be cut up into pieces no larger than 1 inch, in fact, the smaller the better.
Because worms eat half their body weight daily (or three times their body weight weekly) you need to make sure you don’t overfeed them, which could cause your bin to smell bad and your worms to die. A good estimate is one cup of food per one pound of worms. This may vary, so keep checking in with your worms.
Bury the food scraps under the bedding, adding new bedding when necessary.
Where you place their food should change too. Each week, choose a new corner to place it.
Now, where should you store your worm bin? If done correctly, your bin should never smell; many people store their bin inside their home. You can also store it in your garage or shed. Just remember, they are happiest at temperatures between 59-77°F.
There are several different ways to accomplish this. Personally, I think the easiest will be moving the contents of my bin to one side, place fresh bedding in the empty spot and adding food there for a month or so. The worms should migrate to the new area, allowing for the harvesting of worm-free compost from the old area.
Like every living organism, your worms will multiply. In 6 months to a year, you’ll notice your bin is getting heavy – it’s time to divide your bin. You can start another worm bin, help a loved one start their own, give them away or start a business selling worms.
There you have it – worms! I think they will enjoy their life here at Misty Meadows. Helen sends her regards!
Do you farm worms? Please leave a comment or tip below!
Content and Photos by Misty Meadows Homestead and S.Lago © All Rights Reserved