Welcome to the wonderful world of vermicomposting! Worm composting is an excellent way to turn kitchen scraps and other organic waste into nutrient-rich compost that can be used in your garden. In this step-by-step guide, we will show you how to vermicompost successfully, from start to finish.
Step 1: Choose the right container
To start vermicomposting, you will need a container to house your composting worms. We recommend using a pre-fabicated worm composter, such as the one offered by Vego Garden. This product is easy to use and can be buried right in the soil of our raised garden beds for added benefits!
Step 2: Order composting worms
Once you have your container, it's time to order your composting worms. Not all worms are suited for composting, so be sure to choose a variety like Red Wigglers (eisenia fetida) to ensure healthy composting. This variety of worm is easily-purchased in the US, Uncle Jim's Worm Farm is a great place to order live composting worms. We’ve had success on the Vego Farm with this blend.
Step 3: Prepare your bedding material
Before you add your worms to the container, you need to lay down some bedding material inside the composter. The bedding material provides a comfortable environment for the worms and helps to keep the compost moist. At the bottom of the composter, add 2 inches of compost or garden soil. Then add the worm bedding. We recommend using coconut coir, leaves, or shredded newspaper (black ink only) as your bedding material. Simply moisten the material and fluff it up before adding it to the container.
Step 4: Add your worms
Now it's time to add your worms to the container. Make sure the bedding material is moist, but not too wet. Add no less than 200 worms to get started, and spread the worms evenly over the bedding material. You can add your worms to the top of the bin as the natural photophobia of worms will encourage them to travel deeper into the composter. Allow them to settle overnight and begin feeding them on the 2nd day.
Step 5: Feed your worms
Your worms need to eat to produce compost, so it's important to feed them regularly. Kitchen scraps such as fruit and vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, and eggshells are excellent food for composting worms. Make sure to tear or chop up the food into small pieces before adding it to the container. Be careful not to overfeed your worms, as this can cause the compost to become too acidic and kill your worms. Feeding 1 - 2x per week is a good pace.
Step 6: Keep your compost moist
Worms need a moist environment to survive, so it's important to keep your compost moist. Check the moisture level regularly within the worm composter. If the compost is too dry, add a little water. If it's too wet, add some dry bedding material.
Step 7: Harvest your compost
After a few months, your compost should be ready to harvest. You will know it's ready when it looks like dark, crumbly soil and has a pleasant earthy smell. To harvest your compost, simply remove the top layer of bedding material and set it aside. Then, scoop out the compost from the bottom of the container. You can use the compost immediately in your garden or store it in a moist dark place for later use.
Step 8: Maintain your worm farm worm composter
To keep your vermicomposting system healthy, it's important to maintain your worm composter properly. This includes checking the moisture level regularly, feeding your worms 1-2x per week, and spreading nutritious worm castings throughout your garden as they accumulate.
Step 9: Troubleshoot common problems
If you experience any issues with your vermicomposting system, don't panic! Common problems include fruit flies, a bad odor, and overfeeding. To prevent fruit flies, make sure to cover your food scraps with bedding material. To eliminate odor, make sure to maintain the correct moisture level and avoid overfeeding. If you have overfed your worms, simply reduce the amount of food you are adding to the container until the compost returns to a healthy state.
Step 10: Enjoy the benefits of vermicomposting
Vermicomposting is a fantastic way to reduce waste, and provides a nutritious organic fertilizer to supercharge the rest of your garden. It's our favorite way to be sustainable!