The first thing you need to do is set up a comfy home for your worms by making a healthy worm bin
Always start composting your kitchen waste a week or two before.
When starting a new bin is mixed with bedding and moist food waste let the mixture sit in a closed bin for a week or so before adding worms. It creates a friendly environment for your worms to live in by activating the important microbial community.
When it comes to starting your worm bin there are five main components to consider:
1) Container (worm bin)
3) Waste material and of course
4) Composting worms. 5 spray bottle Container.
There are a lot of options when it comes to picking the type of worm bin you want. You could build your own, or you can buy a complete worm bin system from us that comes with the bin, bedding, and worms.
There are a wide variety of options when it comes to choosing the type of worm bin you want to set up. If you are the handy type you may want to build your own creation, OR if you don’t mind spending the money perhaps you will opt for purchasing a complete worm bin system (which may come with bin, bedding, and worms).
You can buy a bin from a local hardware store I prefer a standard Rubbermaid Roughneck tub with a lid, as long as it is not transparent as worms are sensitive to light.
The ones we use are the Rubbermaid Roughneck 10 Gallon Storage Box, 23 inch Deep x15 inch Wide x 8 inch High.
Remember compost worms need more surface area rather than depth.
Also, you will need to drill some 1/8 holes in the lid and along the sides prior to adding your bedding, food, and the worms. This allows for airflow as worms need to breathe.
It’s always good to have a food scrap bucket so the food waste can start decomposing, as worms have no teeth, the waste has to break down as they slurp it up. Worms can’t be able to start processing organic waste until microbial colonization has occurred.
More specifically they are slurping up a microbial soup that forms on rotting materials.
As you are just starting out you may want to drill holes in the bottom of the bin as your bin might become waterlogged, not too many, one in each corner of the bin and one in the middle. make sure you have a tray to catch the leachate that may be present. if you have too much liquid coming out of the bottom, it may mean you are overwatering, your bin needs to be moist, not wet. Don’t forget Dry they Die.
Now that you have a home for your worms you need to add the levels starting with the first level bedding.
Begin with 6 inches of bedding a combination of shredded paper, cardboard, leaves, peat moss, and or coco coir.
Composting worms not only need food, but also a habitat to live in. Bedding materials provide both. Cardboard & Paper are great Bedding Options.
The living conditions can be created by adding lots of bedding material with some water to ensure adequate moisture conditions.
Ideal moisture content is similar to that of a wrung-out sponge. High moisture levels tend to work better for worm composting.
Bedding materials need to be moistened before worms are added.
A good rule of thumb is the bedding should produce 2 drops of liquid when you squeeze the bedding with your hand.
Materials for bedding include shredded cardboard, shredded newspaper, coconut coir, aged straw, fall leaves, or environmentally sustainable peat moss.
You can compost your food scraps and leftovers. But not all food waste materials are safe for a worm’s health.
So what should and should not be added to your worm bin.
- Vegetables & fruit waste.
- Citrus fruit should be added in moderation and should be composted beforehand.
- Starchy materials.
- Bread, pasta, rice, potatoes in moderation and should be composted beforehand.
- Aged animal manures.
- Aged is the key and not pet manure unless your pet is on a natural diet.
- Shredded newspaper, Cardboard, used paper towels.
Add carbon-rich materials at the same time you add any wet food waste.
Paper and cardboard cant have a coating.
Paper towels cant be soiled with greasy debris.
Eggshells ground up and in moderation.
Coffee grounds with paper and Teabags.
The next step or the next layer is to add food, so you need to determine how many worms you have because it will determine how much you will feed them and what to feed them.
So what type of worm you have will dictate how much food they will eat on a daily basis.
When you first start your worm bin you should put enough food in the bin to last a week in order to establish the colonization of microbes and set the feeding process.
So you need to put a thin layer of food over the top of the first bedding. Once you place food on top of the bedding you will follow it up by placing more bedding on top of the food so you have it layered it up.
So the sequence is – Bedding – food – bedding – food – bedding.
That is the beginning of a worm bin.
As your worms feed and digest, creating worm castings, you add another level of bedding and food.
Blend food scraps, it helps worms process food faster and reduces fruit fly’s, always check food stock after a couple of days to make sure food has been eaten before adding more.
Do Not Over Feed your worms.
It’s better to underfeed than overfeed.
When you feed your worms cover the food scraps with more bedding such as shredded paper, cardboard, leaves which also helps reduce fruit fly’s and other annoying critters.
NO – NO and NO Human/pet waste Unless your pet is on a natural diet.
Metals, plastics, bottles, glass, poly bags, chemicals, batteries.
Remember these are basic guidelines.
Don’t wait to put food in your worm bin because it hasn’t been composted. You still have to feed them.so that the worms have something to feed on.
Add about 1 lb of worms per square feet.
The 3 main commercially available compost worms are Red Wigglers, European Nightcrawlers, and African Nightcrawlers. The easiest worm to start with is the Red Wiggler that most beginners should start with.
If you want a faster way to start a worm bin, check out our worm bin kits which come with bedding and food to get you started.