What to do with the veggies and fruits that have expired in the fridge, and how to save money on plant fertilizer are two questions that many homeowners and gardeners face. Vermicomposting is a green way to naturally solve your food disposal problem, and it provides fertilizer that is healthy and, best of all, free! Here is more information about vermicomposting and how it can help you gain a healthier garden.
What Is Vermicomposting?
Vermicomposting uses worms, such as red worms, to naturally break down organic waste into fertilizer.
What Kind Of Worms Would I Use For Composting?
Red worms, the most popular type of worm on the market to vermicomposting, are hardy little critters that are built for composting rotting vegetation and manure. These worms adapt well to changing environments, making them more durable than other species. They can be purchased through Amazon or through a red-worm farm. (And, yes, red worm farms do exist)!
How Should I House My Worms?
Make sure your worms have a nice home. A plastic rectangular storage bin works well. It should be opaque to keep sunlight out, which is perfect for these little critters, as they are not a fan of the light.
Drill holes in the bottom of the container. The holes should be small, as they will only be used for drainage purposes. Next, wrap fine screen wire across the bottom of your container. This will ensure that the holes are not providing an escape route for any curious worms.
Like all animals, your redworms will need some nice bedding to keep them warm and healthy. This bedding can be dampened, shredded paper or newspaper. The dampened paper will keep your worms happy and healthy, as too much dryness can actually cause them to dry out. Make sure that your paper is not too wet, as too much moisture can actually cause them to drown. If you squeeze the bedding, only a drop or two of water should drip out. If more water escapes the bedding, then it is too wet.
Also, keep in mind, never use envelope windows or colored paper for bedding as the chemicals in them can make your worms sick.
Where Should I Put My Compost Bin?
Once your worms settle in their new bin, find a safe place for it. Your worms should be placed in a room with moderate temperature and no predators, such as cats or birds. This can be in an interior room of your house, an outdoor shed (as long as it is temperature regulated,) or in an office.
Hungry Worms Are Sad Worms
Feeding your worms is as simple as cleaning out your fridge. Your red worms will love to snack on the following foods:
- Chopped fruits and vegetables (even rotten ones)
- Coffee grounds
- Used coffee filters
- Used tea leaves or tea bags
- Crushed eggshells
If you have rabbits or horses, you can even feed the worms their manure. Red worms also enjoy shredded cardboard. As with their bedding, make sure the food has been moistened first, as dry foods and materials can cause them to dry out.
Foods That Will Make Your Worms Sick
Much like how chocolate is bad for your dog, your worms’ digestive tracts are not built to handle the following foods;
- Dog or cat feces
- Cat Litter
- Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt
How Will I Know When I Have Compost
As you continue to monitor and feed your worms, you will notice that their bedding will begin to turn dark and crumbly. What you are looking at is the hidden gem within your worms, worm compost. Technically it is just worm poop, but this poop has some magical properties for your garden, yard, and other plants.
Worm compost is a slow fertilizer, meaning that your plants will receive the right amount of vitamins, minerals, and microbes. Sprinkle it on your plants once it’s harvested. Don’t forget to replace the worms’ bedding so they can continue making compost.
My Worm Bins Are Becoming Overcrowded. What Do I Do?
As your worms mature, they will start producing eggs, which will then hatch to make more worms. You will quickly notice your worms are starting to fight for space. At this point, you have a couple of options. You can start a second worm bin to make more compost, give them to family or friends to start their own bin, or even use them to fish.
You can even make a few extra bucks off your worms by selling them to fellow composters. Help your wallet and the environment.
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