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Vermicomposting: Easy and Efficient Composting with Worms

By dave
August 22, 2011

Whether you live on a self-sufficient homestead or in an apartment in the city, you should consider keeping a bin of worms to turn your kitchen scraps into the best compost available. Here's how to get started.

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Name: Margaret
Delta KY
I'm A Charley's Girl For Sure
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Mindy03
Aug 22, 2011 8:56 AM CST
Can you add chicken manure and egg shells to the worm bin?

I've been thinking of doing this and also wonder how they will do when it snows and is really cold outside for an outside bin. I could do a indoor one in the plant room but even that gets to freezing temperatures during the winter. I only use it for starting seeds and keeping potted plants in for a bit so haven't put in a heating system yet.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
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dave
Aug 22, 2011 9:46 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

The chicken litter shouldn't added until it's "settled down" a bit. If you add it while it's fresh and it gets hot, it can burn your worms. They like manure after it's dry, old and past that "burning" stage.

We keep a heap next to the chicken coop, and dump the litter into that heap. I will periodically raid that heap for my worms after enough time has elapsed.

As for eggs, the shells are great, and I use them, but I do wash them first. After being washed and dried, I then crush them as finely as possible and sprinkle them into my bins. I think they help, but they are very slow to be incorporated into the castings. That doesn't both me because I've crushed them so much.

Someone else will have to answer the issue of the coldness, as I don't know yet!
Name: Margaret
Delta KY
I'm A Charley's Girl For Sure
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Beekeeper
Seed Starter Permaculture Region: Kentucky Garden Ideas: Master Level
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Mindy03
Aug 22, 2011 9:58 AM CST
Thanks Dave. I do have a heap that's been sitting almost a year and that was the one I was wondering about using. It needs something done with it so I can put the next clean out mess in that spot.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Aug 22, 2011 10:05 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

Yes, that sounds perfect! By now the temperature is settled down and it's ready to go. The worms will love it. Thumbs up
Name: Mary
My little patch of paradise (Zone 7b)
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fiwit
Aug 22, 2011 10:24 AM CST
Mindy, thinking about cold winters is hard to do when living in Georgia, but I vaguely remember Yankee winters. Smiling

Does the plant room have electricity? If so, would it be possible to use a heatlamp or something to keep the worm-bin area above freezing? (if you have chickens, you should be able to picture what I'm thinking in my head but can't find words to describe - big metal globe with standard lightbulb that clips on things) Or build a box that is larger than the worm-bin and use straw as an insulator between the sides of the box and worm bin?

Just some thoughts, with no expertise to support them (but I rarely let lack of expertise stop me from sharing my thoughts Hilarious! )



as an aside, thank goodness for the preview feature... touch typing only works if you start from the home keys. Otherwise you wind up describing a "bit metal glove" instead of a "big metal globe" Whistling
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Name: Susie
Phoenix AZ (Zone 9a)
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Aguane
Aug 22, 2011 10:48 AM CST
Hi Dave,
I read your article with lots of interest. To tell you the truth I didn't know exactly how worm castings were created so I learned lots! I'm going to attempt this method most definitely.

As you know our summer here in Phoenix is hot. We're expecting 111 today and 113 for the following few days. I do compost in the ground and have lots of garden earthworms that have appeared in that spot. They do a good job of feasting. However, they seem to disappear in the summer. I'm thinking I won't try the bin-harvesting until end of Sept. or early Oct. I just don't have the room in my tiny house to set up indoors.

Can't wait! Thanks for the article!!
“Don't give up too quickly"... unknown, I heard it somewhere.
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Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Aug 22, 2011 10:54 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

Susie, you must report back your experience once you do this!!
Name: Susie
Phoenix AZ (Zone 9a)
Southwest Gardening~ moderator/ATP.
Charter ATP Member Tip Photographer Forum moderator Region: Southwest Gardening Garden Ideas: Level 2 Roses
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Aguane
Aug 22, 2011 10:57 AM CST
I sure will! Can't wait to start. I like the idea of breaking down the cardboard in water!
“Don't give up too quickly"... unknown, I heard it somewhere.
~ All Things Plants, SOUTHWEST GARDENING ~Cubits.org ENERGY & POWER
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Aug 22, 2011 11:06 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

Soaking the cardboard first turns the job from from a dreaded chore to a pleasurable event.
Name: Susie
Phoenix AZ (Zone 9a)
Southwest Gardening~ moderator/ATP.
Charter ATP Member Tip Photographer Forum moderator Region: Southwest Gardening Garden Ideas: Level 2 Roses
Birds Region: United States of America Garden Art Dog Lover Daylilies Hummingbirder
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Aguane
Aug 22, 2011 11:12 AM CST
Do you know if there is a difference between using newspaper (soy ink), or junk mail paper compared to cardboard?
“Don't give up too quickly"... unknown, I heard it somewhere.
~ All Things Plants, SOUTHWEST GARDENING ~Cubits.org ENERGY & POWER
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Aug 22, 2011 11:18 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

The corrugation in cardboard makes it very open and airy, which is perfect for a wormbin. The newspaper would work fine, except that it has a tendency to mat down into impenetrable blobs that the worms will have trouble with.

I wouldn't hesitate to add newspaper to my bins but I would be careful that they don't mat up.
Name: Susie
Phoenix AZ (Zone 9a)
Southwest Gardening~ moderator/ATP.
Charter ATP Member Tip Photographer Forum moderator Region: Southwest Gardening Garden Ideas: Level 2 Roses
Birds Region: United States of America Garden Art Dog Lover Daylilies Hummingbirder
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Aguane
Aug 22, 2011 11:55 AM CST
Grazie!
“Don't give up too quickly"... unknown, I heard it somewhere.
~ All Things Plants, SOUTHWEST GARDENING ~Cubits.org ENERGY & POWER
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Aug 22, 2011 12:02 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

I tip my hat to you.

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