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Vermicomposting for the Avid Beginner

fertilize plants with vermicomposting

Vermicomposting results in organic fertilizer that makes your plants grow strong!

What is vermicomposting? “Vermi-” means “relating to worms.” Therefore, vermicomposting means composting with worms. It’s the art of feeding worms your food scraps. The worms turn your trash into nutrient-rich organic fertilizer. This fertilizer is also known as humus, worm castings, worm manure, or worm feces. The resulting fertilizer is perfect for gardens, lawns, and potted plants.

How to start vermicomposting? This article addresses several basic materials you will need and where to get the worms. You will be using Red Worms if you want the most efficient composters. Or you can use Super Reds (European Night Crawlers) if you also want them for fishing bait. Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm has all the knowledge you will need to succeed at vermicomposting.

Let’s Start With the Composting Bin

The best bin for vermicomposting uses trays. Tray-based composting bins are easy to maintain and harvest. You will not have to do any heavy lifting, and harvesting the fertilizer is a snap. Check out Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm’s selections of tray-based composting bins. Each comes with instructions, and some include the worms.

Alternatively, a starter worm composting bin could be a simple plastic tote–see our instructional video. You can purchase a large outdoor composting bin at a local store, or build your own.

Bedding for Your Worms’ Comfort

Bedding is what your worms live in. It must simulate the worms’ natural habitat so they can thrive. The key ingredients to bedding: a neutral pH (7), retain moisture (but not too much), and be free of abrasive and sharp items that can harm the worms’ sensitive skin.

We recommend for the beginner: shredded brown corrugated cardboard, coconut coir, shredded unbleached paper, shredded black ink only newspaper, and/or pure peat moss. You can use any individually, but worms prefer a combination of bedding types. Learn more about bedding.

Mix the bedding with water. Ideally, use tap water that has sat out overnight. Time causes the chlorine to evaporate.

Moisture and Proper pH Control

Earlier, we mentioned moisture. Worms and their environment must be kept hydrated. Otherwise, they will perish. The bedding should feel like a rung out wet sponge when you squeeze a handful.

Your worms require a neutral pH. If you want to measure it, buy a hydrometer from the hardware store. The acceptable range is between 5 and 9, with 7 the best level. Neutral pH is dependent upon bedding materials and composting materials. For in-depth information of pH, please refer to our blog posts on pH.

Worms should live in an environment where the temperature is controlled. They thrive in a range of 40 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. As long as they don’t experience extreme cold or heat, they will continue to eat and breed and make natural fertilizer.

What to Feed Your Worms?

Worms love fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds, tea bags, and left-over veggies. However, you must be vigilant because they have sensitive stomachs. That means you must avoid meat, fish, bones, and dairy products. Keep acidic, oily and spicy foods as well out of the food bin. Otherwise, your worms will become ill, and your bin will stink. See additional food guidelines.

Last, but Not Least, Your Worms!

The King of Composting is the Red Wiggler. They are known for their excellent composting skills and doubling of their population in three months. European Night Crawlers, also called Super Reds, are larger composting worms. Super Reds are handy if you like to fish with live worms. Also, they can be released into the lawn or garden for aeration.

Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm ships worms year-round throughout the continental United States.

For additional information, check our other blog articles on this website.

One comment on “Vermicomposting for the Avid Beginner

  • Donna Kopecki says:

    Im finding little gray slimy slugs in my bens probably the the cool cause it’s hot in California
    Are these okay? Or should I pick them out?


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