Build your compost from organic waste with worms

Build your compost from organic waste with worms

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We must follow only 3 steps:

Make the house for your worms - Build your ecosystem - Maintain and Grow your compost.

Part 1: Make the house for your worms

1. Get a container for worms. A container for worms is basically the house of worms and the place where they will digest the organic material that you will give them. Worm bins can be purchased from sellers online or at your local garden or farm supply store.

2. If you don't want to buy a worm bin, you can build it yourself. Use rubber storage bags, galvanized tubs, wood, or plastic.

Material: Rubber is cheap, easy to use, and lasts long. Galvanized tubs are somewhat expensive but they will last you forever. Wood will eventually be eaten away and plastic breaks easily, but either one will get you out of trouble. Some people prefer wooden containers because they allow better breathing and absorb excess moisture, which can be dangerous for your worms. Don't use chemically treated wood, which can be dangerous to your worms or can leave harmful chemicals in your compost. You can use 5-gallon plastic buckets, which are on sale at almost every hardware store, especially if you live in an apartment. Clean 5 gallon buckets well, use soap, and let them sit in clean water for a day or more.

Ventilation: Your bucket should be well ventilated, with several 1/8 inch (3mm) 4 inch (100mm) holes in the bottom (otherwise your worms will stay at the bottom of the bucket and may suffocate). For example, you can build a container out of a large plastic tub with several dozen small holes in the bottom and sides. The untreated wooden containers are naturally ventilated by the structure of the wood.

Size: The bigger you make the container, the more worms there can be. Find 1 pound (0.45 kg) of worms for every square foot of surface area. The most productive depth for your bin is 24 inches (61 cm) because compost worms won't go any lower than that.

Cover: The tub should have a cover to prevent light from entering and the compost from drying out. Choose or make a lid that can be removed in case your compost is too wet. Use a tarp, fold and tie with string, or hold it in place with the wood. The sacks also work well and can be watered directly.

3. Use old tires to make a makeshift home. To make a four-tire worm bin, create a base with old bricks or slab (it should be flat and with as few grooves as possible).

Lay a heavy layer of newspaper on top of the bricks. Fill the four tires with newspaper.

Make a pile of the tires, one on top of the other, with the first one on the newspaper. Put some crumpled paper or cardboard on the bottom to soak up the excess liquid.

Fill the entire worm bin with organic material (semi compost is best). Add the compost worms (the best species are tiger or brandling)

Use a piece of cardboard over the bricks as a cover. The lid must be large enough to prevent rain from entering.

Harvest a tire of fertilizer every 8 weeks (during hot months).

4. Place the worm bin in a cool area to protect it from excessive heat. If you have the container outside, consider placing it in the shade, under a tree, in the garage or shed, or on the side of the house.

Aim for the temperature outside the container to be between 30 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, along with at least 4 inches of wet bedding in the container.

This should be the ideal home for your compost worms.

Part 2: Build your ecosystem

1. Prepare the bed for your worms. The litter is the natural habitat of the worm that you are trying to replicate in your compost bin. Fill the container with thin strips of unbleached corrugated cardboard or shredded newspaper, straw, dried grass, or some other similar material. This provides the worms with a source of fiber and keeps the container well ventilated. Sprinkle a handful of soil on top and wet well. Let the water soak the container for at least a day before adding the worms.

Over time, the litter will become a very nutrient-rich compost material for worms.

Canadian peat, (washed) sawdust, horse manure, fiber, and coconut pith are also great for composting.

Avoid putting pine, redwood, bay, or eucalyptus leaves on your bed. Most brown leaves are acceptable in vermicompost, but eucalyptus leaves in particular act as an insecticide and will kill your worms.

2. Choose the worms you want. There are several varieties of worms that are commercially cultivated and sold for vermicomposting; Removing worms from your yard is not recommended. The internet or local garden clubs are your best bet for finding a local worm dealer. One pound of worms is all that is recommended.

The most used worms are, Eisenia foetida (Californian red worms), which are 4 inches in length, have a mostly red body with a yellow tail. These worms have a healthy appetite and reproduce quickly. They are able to eat more than half their own weight of food per day.

Another variety to consider is Eisenia hortensis, known as "nocturnal European crawlers." They do not reproduce as fast as red worms but they grow larger and eat thick paper and cardboard, and appear to be more consistent. They are also better worms to fish when they reach their optimum size.

However, as with any non-native species, it is important not to allow nocturnal European crawlers to spread into the habitat. Their voracious appetite and reproductive rates (especially those of red worms) have thrown the delicate balance of forests out of balance by consuming litter very quickly. This leaves too little litter to slowly incubate the shelled nuts and causes excessive erosion as well as negatively affecting soil pH. So be sure to keep them inside the container!

Part 3: Maintain and grow your compost

1. Feed your worms the right amount on a regular basis. Your compost bin litter is a great start, but worms need a consistent diet of food scraps in order to stay healthy and produce compost. Feed the worms at least once a week, but only a small amount. As worms reproduce and grow in number, feed them at least a quarter of food scraps per square foot of surface area each week.

The worms eat fruit and vegetable scraps, bread and other grains, coffee beans, and egg shells. Earthworms eat basically what humans eat, except that they are less picky.

If you can process the leftover food before putting it in the container, the worms will eat it faster. Worms eat small pieces faster than large pieces or whole foods. In this respect they are like humans.

Mix food scraps into the bin bed before feeding the worms. This will prevent flies from approaching and give the worms more opportunity to feed. Do not leave the remains on top of the compost.

2. Keep your container. Keep your container off the ground, use bricks, cinder blocks or whatever is convenient to speed up your composting and keep your worms happy. Earthworms are capable of escaping almost anywhere, but if you keep your worms feeding and moist, they won't try to dry out. The light in the area will ensure that your worms stick around.

Sprinkle the surface with water, every other day. You want your bed to have the moisture of a wrung out sponge.

Add cardboard, shredded newspaper, straw, and other fibrous material once a month, or as needed. Your worms will quickly reduce whatever is in your container. You will start with a bin full of compost or paper / cardboard and very soon it will be halfway there. This is the time to add stringy material.

3. Pay attention to the "no's" of composting. Compost bins are not difficult to maintain, but they do need to be cared for. Here are some things you shouldn't do if you want to maintain a healthy and consistent ecosystem.

Don't over-feed your worms. If your compost bin starts to stink, it could be because you're overfeeding your worms. When this happens, the bed heats up, killing the worms.

You do not feed your worms any combination of the following. These foods are difficult for worms to digest:

Excessive citrus - no more than 1/5 of the total food
Meat or fish
Fat or oil
Dairy products (eggshell is fine)
Cat or dog feces

4. Harvest the compost when it's ready. After 3-6 months, you should have a sufficient amount of worm compost in your bin. Now is the time to harvest it. Keep in mind that you may not be able to save all the worms that are in the compost. Okay, your worms have multiplied a lot and there must be a lot to continue composting.

Wear rubber gloves and move all non-compost vegetable matter to the side. Then, with your gloved hands, transfer a section of compost and worms to a piece of newspaper or plastic wrap. Layer the compost. Wait a bit to give the worms time to move to the center of the mound. Eventually you will end up with a compost pile next to a worm pile. After growing, you should be able to replace the litter and then return the worms to the container. Do whatever you want with the compost and repeat.

If you prefer a technique that doesn't involve your hands, simply push the contents of the container aside and put fresh food, water, dirt, and bedding in the free space. The worms will slowly migrate. Of course, this requires a lot of patience. It could take a couple of months for the worms to fully migrate to the side of the compost bin with the leftovers.


Green food increases the nitrogen in your compost. Some examples are: green grass, beet greens, carrot greens, philodendron greens, freshly cut clover, or alfalfa.

Moist, finely ground grains (flour, oatmeal, etc.) are eaten the fastest, followed by fruits, grass, leaves, cardboard, cardboard (cereal boxes), white paper, cotton products, and magazines (stain paper). Wood takes the longest (up to a year or more).

Remember that a worm bin is a small ecosystem. Do not intend to remove the other creatures present in your container, they are helpers. However, it does remove centipedes. Centipedes are carnivores and will eat baby worms and pinworm eggs.

If you have two containers, it can be much easier to get your compost. Fill one container and start the other. When you want to have your compost, move the material that is not yet ready from bin one to two to use the compost already ready. Container two, now the active container, is full and container one becomes the active container again.

You can throw away your used coffee beans, unbleached filters and tea bags (remember to remove the staple) in the container.

Brown food increases the carbon and phosphate in your finished product. Some examples are: paper, cardboard, pieces of wood, leaves, bread. If you add fresh grass from your lawn, make sure they haven't put any chemicals on the lawn. Chemicals are deadly to the container ecosystem.

If you would like to collect the water (liquid fertilizer) produced by watering your worms, place a bucket under your compost bin. Otherwise, the soil under the container will become too fertile. An elevated container (either with bricks or a container with legs) sitting in a bucket of water will also prevent ants and other unwanted creatures from entering the container.

Shredded paper, egg cartons, cereal and pizza boxes are great for making beds (avoid glossy paper). Always soak the bedding paper for at least 12 hours before putting it in the container and first squeeze it out well to get the water out. Do not shred mail envelopes unless you have removed the plastic windows. Worms don't eat plastic, and removing hundreds of bits of plastic from the compost bin is a worm farmer's nightmare.

Calcium carbonate works well to solve most problems. Make sure to use calcium carbonate (for example limestone powder) and not quicklime (calcium oxide).

A balanced diet contributes to a healthy container, healthy worms, and a high-quality finished product.

Pre-compost cow manure is an excellent food for worms. Just make sure to bury it at least 3 inches deep. Review the warnings carefully before you start adding any type of manure.

Eggshells increase the calcium content of the compost you produce. Earthworms like them too. To be most effective, the eggshells should be dried and finely ground (with a mortar and pestle or with a rolling pin) before putting them in the container. Use raw eggshells, which have not been cooked.


If cold temperatures are a problem in your area, put your container in the garage or shed during the winter. If it is not possible to move the worm bins indoors during the winter, add a small pad to warm it as follows: push the matter to one side, place the pad against that side, then fill the pad. Bring the cord to the extension, plug it in, and set the pad to low or medium, particularly in very cold weather. This will prevent them from freezing during the winter.

Large amounts of green matter (grass, alfalfa, etc.) heat up quickly and only a small amount should be added.

Fresh (not compost) cow manure contains dangerous pathogens and should not be used. It will also heat the container to deadly levels and kill your worms.

Limestone dust will create carbon dioxide in your containers and you will suffocate your worms if the containers are not well ventilated. Use it only if absolutely necessary, and stir your container every day.

Don't let your worm bin get hotter than 90 degrees. You'll cook your worms - something no one should smell!

Don't abuse citrus peels. You can add them, but remember that they are acidic. If possible, just add a little of them along with a lot of other materials.


Video: Different types of COMPOST BUGS. Compost Critters. Black soldier fly larvae. Compost Helpers (May 2022).