It’s been a few months since my red wigglers got cozy in their new digs, so I thought it’d be a good time for an update on how the worm bin composting system is working out.
Overall, it’s going really well — I harvested my first batch of worm castings from the bin last weekend, and I was a bit surprised to discover just how fast worms will eat our kitchen scraps — I think I got maybe two pounds out of the bin in just a two-month span, and I’ve already used most of it!
Here are a few things I’ve learned in my short two months of managing a worm bin:
- Worms eat a lot. And I mean a lot — a pound of worms can consume half a pound of food in a day. And if you don’t provide enough food for them, they will either start to die off try to crawl out of the bin in search for more food. I’ve started aiming for three pounds per week — an easy way to do this is to keep excess kitchen scraps in the freezer until you’re ready to feed them.
- Leaves don’t make great bedding unless they’re finely chopped — otherwise they’ll clump together, creating an unideal environment for the worms and taking much longer to break down. Worms breathe through their skin, and if the leaves get too slimy, the worms might have a hard time breathing and could die.
- Contrary to popular belief, you can add citrus to a worm bin — but it’s all about moderation. It’s important that it’s small quantities and that it’s chopped up. (I eat a lot of oranges, so the majority of the peels go into our compost pile rather than the worm bin, but sometimes a bit of peel finds its way to the worms. They don’t seem to mind.)
- You learn pretty quickly what your red wigglers like and don’t like to eat — for example, mine love banana peels, coffee grounds, and tea leaves, but they don’t like potato peels.
I’ve gotten in the habit of checking on my bin twice a day — once in the morning when I take the dogs out, and once in the evening when I get home from work. This sounds like a lot of work, but I keep the bin on our deck, and all I have to do is lift the lid as I’m passing by and take a quick peek to make sure the bedding is still moist and that the worms aren’t trying to escape the bin. It usually doesn’t take more than a couple seconds.
Overall it’s not a lot of work to maintain the bin and its population — the most work I’ve put into it was removing the castings and sorting out the worms (which took a few hours), but I plan on making a sifter soon, so it should be a much easier process in the future. It’s pretty rewarding knowing that I’ve kept a lot of waste out of the landfill and in return am left with a nice, rich, organic fertilizer. My garden is going to be very happy!
Have you ever tried vermicomposting? If you haven’t but are interested, I can’t say enough about the book Worms Eat My Garbage. It’s a great resource for getting started and troubleshooting any issues you might have later on. If you do decide to try your hand at vermicomposting, I’d love to hear all about your setup — there are so many different options out there.