Posted Jun 12, 2014
Vermicomposting is an activity that just about anyone can do with some success and red wiggler worms are the best for a household worm bin. Their preferred environment is a blend of organic material composed of "greens" and "browns" with a little dirt thrown in to provide various microorganisms. We started worm composting with a homemade wooden box lined with window screen. Following the directions in Worms Eat My Garbage (a great book), we shredded paper, got it damp, mixed it with vegetable scraps and a little dirt, then added worms. They settled in pretty well at first but, since the box was on our deck outside, they struggled with the fluctuations of temperature and moisture. When we finally moved the box to our basement, we were sure all of the worms were dead (there was no sign of activity), but we decided to let it sit for awhile before ordering new worms. In a couple of weeks, there were hundreds of tiny little worms that must have hatched once we moved the box to a better environment. From that point on, the worms did beautifully, chomping their way through whatever kitchen waste we chose not to feed to the chickens, plus occasional additions of paper. The worms thrived in the continuously cool and dim basement.
After a few years, the box started to fall apart and we were planning to move, so we bought a real worm composting bin. We dug out ten gallons of beautiful, rich compost and had plenty of worm-filled starter mix for the new bin. Even though I tried to be careful to preserve worms by light-exposing the area I planned to dig up, there turned out to be a lot of worms still working in the buckets of compost when I added it to my planters. And that was after the buckets had been out in the sunlight and had been soaked with rain more than once. Tough little critters!
The new bin is working well (it has four stackable layers) and it currently resides in our crawlspace, close to the doorway so we can fill it and rearrange it as needed. My daughter harvests a few worms at a time to feed her box turtle, but it seems there is never a shortage in the bin and they are busy converting waste into fertile compost.