Fill the two-liter bottle with alternating layers of sand and soil. Add a layer of dry leaves so the worms have some food. Stop adding layers when the bottle is ¾ full. Make sure the soil is damp, but not too wet.
How do you make a worm hive?
Method for starting a worm farm: – The box where the worms go needs holes to let the worm “tea” drip through. The bottom one shouldn’t have holes so it catches the liquid so you can use it in the garden. () Whether you’re using a purpose-built kit or making your own, the set-up is the same.
Stack three boxes on top of each other; the top two are feeder boxes where the worms will live and these need holes in the base, while the bottom container forms the reservoir for the liquid worm “tea”, so needs to be waterproof. It helps to have a tap on the bottom container so you can drain this off later, but if you’re using a polystyrene box you can simply make a hole in one corner and put a bucket underneath, or plug the hole with a cork to control when you drain the liquid off.
(This is liquid gold, so don’t discard it; see uses below.) The worms start off in the middle container. Place the shade cloth over the bottom reservoir box to stop the worms falling through and drowning. Put the first feeder box on top and line it with a couple of sheets of newspaper plus some bedding material such as cow manure, sawdust or coconut fibre.
- Then add the worms! You can buy a box of worms from your local hardware store or perhaps start off with just a handful from a friend’s worm farm, but make sure you use composting worms that live on the soil’s surface, not earthworms that live deeper into the soil.
- Spread them out over the bedding and cover with damp newspaper or damp hessian.
A polystyrene lid is a good idea too. Let them settle in for a week or so before you begin feeding them. Keep an eye on their appetite as they grow and breed; if you find there is still a lot of food left a week after feeding them, you’ve given them too much, and if it’s all gone in two or three days they need more! The number one trap new worm farmers fall into is overfeeding, so check them often until you get a feel for your worms’ needs.
As the middle section slowly fills with castings (worm poo), the worms will want to move up. This is when you need to set up the second feeder box for them to move into; entice them up with some fresh food and allow two to three days for them all to follow. You can then remove the first box, which is full of worm castings, and use this on the garden.
The “top” box now becomes the middle level and the emptied first box can go on top. Keep switching them over as this process continues.
Is worm farming difficult?
Worm Farms are a great way to recycle kitchen waste and food scraps into one of the best garden fertilizers available! It’s very easy to maintain a worm farm, it takes very little time and effort, and you can set up worm farms in the smallest of spaces, such as balconies and courtyards.
Is worm farming profitable?
A commercial worm farm – whether for worm castings or the worms themselves – appears to be a profitable venture on the surface.
Can you put normal worms in a worm farm?
Can I introduce worms from the garden into my worm farm? – WormBiz – red wigglers and vermicompost When starting a worm farm, it is best to source “compost worms.” Here are the reasons why: There are lots of species of soil earthworms naturally found in a healthy garden.
- Earthworms are deep burrowing and quite amazingly, secrete slimy mucus, which helps them move through their tunnels with ease, not only aerating the soil but leaving behind a microbial, nutrient-rich residue that plants can access for their growth and vitality.
- Earthworms have bigger mouths than compost worms and consume larger soil aggregates and organic particulates such as rotten wood but what they really love is to feed on organic material already processed into rich humus.
Earthworms are much larger in their overall size. They require open space to move freely and therefore won’t thrive in a contained densely populated environment such as a home worm farm. Compost worms are surface dwellers meaning they spend their time closer to the soil surface where natural decaying matter such as leaves, grass, and manure presents.
This is one of the reasons why compost worms are so effective in a home worm farm situation. When we place food waste on the top layer of a worm farm, the worms don’t eat these scraps but consume the microbes present in the decomposition process. Compost worms also secrete enzymes that assist in breaking down the organic matter, once processed, nutrient-rich worm castings are left behind.
Compost worms can live in much higher densities, ideal for a contained worm farm environment, which can effectively process organic waste materials particularly kitchen scraps. It is important to mention compost worms can live in the garden but require a moist environment with plenty of decaying organic matter such as a thick mulch layer to thrive.
The main reason why earthworms won’t fare well in your worm farm is that they require a different environment and living conditions to what a worm farm can provide. They are much larger than compost worms and don’t like to be part of a densely populated environment; they also prefer to feed on organic matter already processed into rich humus. Compost worms are most suitable for your farm and will thrive in a contained environment, they enjoy processing organic household waste at the surface of the soil and are very effective worm castings producers. The great news is, both types of worms work together in a symbiotic balance.
Soil earthworms love feeding on compost worm castings. They will transport it to the soil’s lower depths where the root zone is, giving plants access to superpowered all-natural nutrients for growth, natural pest resistance resulting in nutrient-dense healthier food.
How many worms do I need to start a worm farm?
Frequently Asked Questions & Advice 1) How many worms do I need for my worm bin? It really depends on the size of the worm bin. For most average sized domestic worm bins, we would suggest you start with 1 lb. (approximately 800 – 1000) mixed sized worms.
- If the worm bin is larger, or you are composting food scraps for four or more adult persons, we would recommend 2 lbs.
- Of worms.2) How do I feed the worms? Feed them 1-2 times a week when you first get your worms.
- As the worms multiply or you see that the food is being rapidly consumed, increase the feeding times and the amount of food.
Bury your food scraps into the bedding. Make certain to bury the food in a different place each time you contribute to the bin. Cover the food scraps thoroughly with the bedding to discourage fruit flies and other pests.3) What do worms eat? Worms eat organic, decomposed material.
Additionally, worms actually feed on the bugs, bacteria, and fungus that grow on your organic waste as it decomposes. Some of their favorite foods are melons and avocados. They are also quite fond of coffee grinds. But do give them an assortment of different foods. If the baby will eat it, worms will love it.4) Why are worms important? Worms are an important indicator of good soil.
If you have lots of worms in your soil, your soil is in better condition than soil with no worms. Worms move around in the soil, keeping it loose and helping to get oxygen to the roots of plants which help them grow. Also, the worms eat the organic matter in the soil and leave worm castings behind which are then readily available to the plants for nutrition.5) How do worms breed or reproduce? Worms are hermaphrodites or intersexes, in that they are both male and female.
- The fertilized eggs are collected by a ring of mucous on the outside of the body called the clitellum.
- As the mucous slides off the tail end, it closes, forming a cocoon around the eggs.
- The eggs then go on to develop into baby worms.
- Each cocoon can contain up to 20 baby worms.
- However, the average is usually 5 or 6.6) Why are my worms crawling away from the worm bin? Worms crawl for many reasons.
One of the main ones is a lack of air (oxygen) in the bin. This is particularly a problem with deep, plastic bins, and are even worse when the bins have a “clamp-on” lid designed to stop the worms from getting out! Other conditions would include such items as weather, particularly when it is wet and when the pressure is low.
- Vibration, even when you don’t feel it, can cause worms to crawl.
- Adding too many worms when starting the bin, unhealthy conditions developing in the bin, unpleasant food items being added to the bin such as a lot of raw onions, citrus fruit skin, fermenting fruit, alcohol, etc., can all cause worms to crawl and try to escape from the bin.7) My worms have died – why? There are several reasons why they may have died.
The most common reason is because the conditions have become intolerable to the worms – the bedding material is too dry or too wet; there is no food available; the material has been allowed to heat up, usually thru the addition of too much uncomposted green material such as grass.
- If the compost looks black, sludgy and smells, then it has become anaerobic.
- This happens when there is no oxygen present, usually caused by compaction and wet conditions; and there is now the wrong type of bacteria present.
- This will give off harmful gasses causing the worms to give up and die.
- Sometimes worms will die off due to bad foodstuffs being added, such as a lot of raw onions or citrus fruit skin, fermenting fruit or alcohol, etc.8) My bin has small white worms in it, are they harmful? These are pot worms which are not harmful to red worms.
They are all part of the eco-system of your bin. Pot worms usually like the bin conditions which are wetter, so keeping the bedding material a little dryer will sometimes discourage these pot worms. To “dry out” a worm bin that has become too wet – leave the cover open and mix in something to absorb the extra moisture such as shredded paper (not colored or with color ink), shredded brown paper towels (the kind you used at school), or dry peat moss.
- We find that what works best for us is dry, shredded coconut coir.9) How do worms smell? Worms have specialized chemo receptors or sense organs (“taste receptors”) which react to chemical stimuli.
- These sense organs are located on the anterior part of the worm.
- If you really mean,”how do worm bins smell?” the answer is: if the worm bin is working properly and is being looked after properly, there will be no odor or smell.
If it is neglected and becomes anaerobic or sour, it will start to smell.10) What are the white maggot looking things in my bin? These are probably pot worms. Pot worms are part of the eco-system of your bin, and are not harmful to redworms.11) How do we Remove Nightcrawlers From our Lawn? We don’t know of any effective way to do this without the use of strong pesticides.
- If you know or hear of any other ways, please let us know.
- Meanwhile, remember that earthworms are helping to fertilize your soil and make it healthy.
- Maybe it could be possible to co-exist with these little critters.12) How do I get rid of the fruit flies? Fruit flies are a common nuisance, usually caused by food not being properly buried in the bedding material.
You can try putting dry peat moss in the tray about ½ in thick and leave it dry for about three days. Then get it damp. This should help. Completely burying your food in the bedding material will additionally help to discourage fruit flies. Keeping a sheet of newspaper on the top of the top tray helps also because the fruit flies cannot get down to the food.
- Whatever you do, don’t spray them with fly spray.
- This will not only kill the fruit flies, but it will kill your worms as well.13) Should I give my worms water? A properly maintained worm bin should have sufficient liquid being generated from the food scraps to supply sufficient water for the worms.
- If you feel the bin is too dry, you can try using a spray bottle to spray small amounts of water in the worm bin.
Do not pour water directly into the bin. Additionally, take care that you do not use water from a chlorinated water source, or water which has had potassium added to soften it. Salt is harmful to worms. : Frequently Asked Questions & Advice
What do worms hate the most?
I have 1,000 worms living in a bin in my basement, eating the fruit and vegetable scraps from the kitchen, along with eggshells, coffee grounds and tea bags. It smells lovely down there, and Charles Darwin would approve. He wrote his last book about worms and their ability to add nutrients to the soil.
It was an immediate success. But today, despite the popularity of backyard composting and composting pickup services, using worms at home to eat your garbage is a fringe endeavor. As my neighbor and master gardener Susan Wexler said, “Your average person isn’t going to order worms.” Yet, earthworms can eat twice their weight per week and leave behind nutrient-rich, organic compost.
Their digestive system actually enriches the waste, grinding it up and adding calcite granules and friendly bacteria. In the dirt, earthworms eat soil and organic matter and turn it into richer soil. In a home composter like mine, they can do the same with kitchen scraps, taking a mix of vegetable and fruit trimmings, along with paper and other filler, and turning it into black, sweet, earthy-smelling, . .
Well, worm poop. Here’s the science behind worms’ ability to transform food scraps into nutrient-rich soil. (Video: American Chemical Society) The technical word for worm poop is castings, and the composting method is called vermiculture, or vermicomposting. Of the more than 9,000 species of earthworms, only seven have been identified as suitable for vermicomposting.
Red wigglers, or Eisenia fetida, are by far the most popular choice in North America, worm experts say. They live on top of the soil in decaying organic matter — perfect for composting. Adding castings to soil increases plant growth, according to both anecdotal evidence and scientific studies.
- For instance, strawberry plants with vermicompost worked into the soil had more than a third more flowers, plant runners and marketable fruit weights than plants to which only chemical fertilizer had been applied, according to a 2004 paper published online in Bioresource Technology.
- I resisted creating an outdoor compost pile, both because of the smell and because we have occasional rat visitors in the yard.
I know there are a wide range of enclosed outdoor composting systems. But indoor worms seemed a tidy solution. Last year, I bought a worm composter online — a set of stacking plastic trays, 14 inches square and 4½ inches deep. (I later learned it’s very easy to make a basic worm composter with a plastic bin.) I also ordered 1,000 worms from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm, for $19.95 plus shipping.
- They came in a box that said “open immediately,” and inside was a pretty green cotton bag filled with my worms packed in dry peat moss.
- They looked a bit dried up.
- But the enclosed “worm advisory” assured me they were just dehydrated for safe travel and would revive quickly.
- I laid the ball of worms gently into the first plastic tray on a bedding of starter stuff (composed of coconut fiber, shredded paper and pumice) and some food scraps.
I poured a half-cup of water over the worms, placed the loosefitting cover on the tray and kept a light on for the first couple of days to make sure they didn’t try to escape. But, sure enough, they seemed to disappear into the food mixture. According to the instructions that came with the composting trays, all you need to do is to keep adding more scraps and such until the tray is full of worm castings.
This can take a couple months or more. Then you put another tray on top (the tray bottom is an open grid), and add food scraps. The worms, sensing new opportunity, will migrate up to the new tray. That’s the idea. The good news: Worm composting really does not smell. The bad news: They are high-maintenance, at least in the beginning.
They are, after all, living beings and require some care. They can’t get too hot or too cold. And it’s tricky to get the right balance of food, paper and moisture. We put a note on the refrigerator that says: “Worms love: vegetable scraps, breads and grains, fruit rinds and petals, tea bags, coffee grounds and filters, crushed eggshells, shredded paper.
Worms hate: meat or fish, cheese, butter, greasy food, animal waste, spicy and salty foods, citrus.” The food-to-worm ratio is not precise, nor is the amount of castings they will produce. The rule of thumb is that a pound of worms will eat one to two pounds of food in a week. In the worm bin, microbes start to break down the food scraps — pre-digestion for the worms.
They prefer their food chopped up. I feel silly cutting up scraps, mixing them with shredded paper and carrying a plate downstairs to the worms. But I refuse to put the scraps in a blender, which is what a more enthusiastic family member did for a while.
- But I did worry.
- Sometimes clusters of worms were coming to the surface instead of burrowing, and sometimes there seemed to be lots of mites (which also contribute to the composting process but compete for food with the worms), an indication of too much moisture.
- I wanted to talk to other people who were worm composting at home, but when I put the word out to my very active and environmentally conscious neighborhood email group, the silence was surprising.
A father and son were curious, seeing a possible school project, and a Colombian agronomist said it was a common form of composting in Colombia. And then a neighbor told me about Jeffrey Neal. Neal lives in a condo in the District and runs a composting operation in the basement of his building.
I quickly called him up and arranged to visit. It would be my first real look at someone else’s worm bins. He’s a retired Navy civil engineer who started composting about six years ago after one day contemplating his banana peel as he relaxed on his sofa. He said he thought about its going into a landfill: “And I just sat there: ‘Oh, just throw it away like I’ve done so many other times.
No other option.’ ” But he thought about it some more, and his banana peel was taking him to environmental problems, erosion, landfills. “It’s like in ‘The Matrix.’ I’d just taken the red pill and then I was stuck and I couldn’t go back,” he said. He started worm composting in his apartment: “I killed my worms a couple times.” And then he took a composting course offered by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a national nonprofit that runs community development programs, and ECO City Farms in Prince George’s County, which runs urban farming programs.
For his course project, he decided to introduce vermicomposting to his 165-unit apartment building, Rhapsody Condominiums. He had to convince the five board members. One agreed, two were willing and the other two took more work, Neal said. Now, nearly two years into the operation, Neal and another resident of the building, Carrie Brownlie, feed the worms twice a week.
The scraps come from fewer than half a dozen apartments. Neal and Brownlie did not publicize the project, preferring to start small. We met in the lobby, took the elevator down to the trash room and retrieved a bucket of food scraps marked for composting.
- Brownlie and her two young sons weighed them, measured out shredded paper and mixed it all together.
- In a little-used stairwell off the parking garage were 10 18-gallon plastic containers, the kind you might store offseason clothes or sports equipment in, lined up along the wall, numbered and with notes attached about the last feeding.
A thousand red wigglers weigh about a pound, and Neal estimates he has 30 pounds of worms in the 10 bins. So basically, tens of thousands of worms. While those worms could eat 60 pounds of food scraps in a week, they do fine on a lot less, and it is more of a problem to put too much food in a bin than to underfeed them because the food will rot and build up heat, killing the worms.
Neal and Brownlie add anywhere from just a few pounds to 25 pounds of food in a week. Worms seem to do better with a bit of neglect, and skipping feeding for a few weeks is not a problem. In nature, sometimes food is plentiful, sometimes not. If you are going away for two or three weeks, you can just put extra food and shredded newspapers in the bin, and they will be fine.
Neal and Brownlie harvest castings every three or four months, a few bins at a time. In January, one bin produced 33 pounds of nutrient-rich compost. Because they are not gardeners, they give the compost away to people in the building who have houseplants, feed the building’s roof-deck plants and save some for Neal’s mother, who lives in the suburbs.
- The rest goes to the nearby Howard University community garden.
- Neal and Brownlie have not advertised the composting widely yet — a plan is underway to scale the operation up for the entire building this summer — so when I asked others at the Rhapsody what they thought about having worm composting in the basement, most didn’t know about it.
Learning of the close-to-home worm poop operation, they seemed unfazed, even supportive. “That’s so cool,” said Mollie Berman. “I’m not turned off by worms. I mean, there are rats in the alley. You can’t be squeamish living in the city.” Neal has continued to study composting, going not just once but twice to the annual vermiculture conference started 18 years ago by Rhonda Sherman, extension specialist at North Carolina State University.
- Sherman has a big following among worm composters, and she fields inquiries from around the world about large-scale vermicomposting.
- She was in the circle of recycling activists in Kalamazoo, Mich., that included the late Mary Appelhof — sometimes referred to as Worm Woman — whose ” Worms Eat My Garbage ” continues to be a popular reference book for home vermicomposters.
As for my own operation, after more than six months and with spring here, I’m still working on the worm routine. I have settled on feeding them once a week, between one and two pounds of food scraps. That should yield five to eight pounds of castings every four to six months.
- I recently harvested compost from the bottom tray for the first time, using the pyramid method.
- This involves creating small piles of compost under a light whose rays cause the worms to burrow down, and then taking off the top of the pyramid.
- At the end of this process, I had three-quarters of a bucket of rich black compost and a half-dozen small, wriggling knots of apparently stressed-out worms.
I added the compost to my garden, returned the worms to the bin and fed them, but they don’t seem to be burrowing very enthusiastically. I try to leave them alone, but it’s hard. They are, after all, my livestock. Read more:
What not to put in a worm farm?
Items you cannot compost in a worm bin: –
- Lemon, lime, orange or other citrus peels and juice (in excess this will make the soil too acidic)
- Onions and garlic (a good rule of thumb is if it makes you smell, it makes your worm bin smell)
- Meat, fats, grease, bones or oils (no butter, lard, stocks, soups, etc)
- Plastics and plastic coated paper (like glossy magazines)
- Stickers, including veggie stickers (remove stamps from envelopes)
- Bread or yeast products (no crackers or cakes)
- Salt, pepper and other spices
- Milk, dairy or dairy products
- Cat or dog feces
- Diseased or infested plants
- Treated wood products
How do you get worms to multiply?
Two mature worms lie next to each other head to tail and bring their sex organs into contact. The male cells on each worm then fertilise the female cells on the other by exchanging sperm. When the worms break apart, each fertilised worm secretes a mucous substance, then helps the egg capsule form.
Are worm farms worth it?
3. Worm Tea and Worm Farm Leachate – The excess liquid that is drained from a worm farm tap is called worm farm leachate (worm juice). It’s similar to worm tea and as an organic fertilizer, this is a great reason to start a worm farm. Worm tea is the liquid concentrate of worm compost. There’s a few different methods how to make worm tea.
How fast do worms reproduce?
Worms are ready to breed once they mature from 50 to 90 days. Earthworms are hermaphrodites; they can be male or female (a great advantage!). They can perform both male and female functions and mate every 7 to 10 days. The mating process takes around 24 hours.
How smelly is a worm farm?
Troubleshooting Tips Every once in a while, in spite of your best efforts, your worm bin may fall out of balance. Read through our troubleshooting tips below, and if your problems aren’t addressed, contact us, We’d be happy to discuss what’s going on in your bin and hopefully we can give you some good ideas to bring your worm bin back into balance.
Odor Your worm bin should always smell like fresh garden soil, and in fact, should produce no odor at all. If there is a foul smell coming from your worm bin, it’s a clear sign that your system is out of balance. The first and most important thing to do if you have a smelly worm bin is to gently lift up the layers of food waste and bedding, enabling air to enter the system.
Remember, worm bins need oxygen. Dig around in your bin and investigate the source of odor. If you encounter something that smells bad, remove it and dispose of it in your green waste bin or your outdoor compost heap, if you have one. If the whole surface of the worm bin smells, then gently lift to add oxygen and add a generous layer of dry shredded paper or other dry begging to the top of the bin, and gently work some of this bedding into the lower layers.
- The extra carbon you add will help to balance out any excess nitrogen that’s present in your system.
- If your bedding becomes quickly matted, add other dry carbon material to facilitate the flow of oxygen through the worm bin.
- You can even add additional dry shredded paper to your lower trays if you’re using a tray system, which will help absorb excess moisture.
Excess Moisture If you encounter water on the bottom of your worm bin, get rid of it! Start by removing any waterlogged castings from the bottom of the bin, and transfer to a container with holes so the castings can dry out and continue their aging process.
Ask yourself how your worm bin got so wet in the first place. Did you recently add a lot of wet waste, like rotting tomatoes, watermelon rinds, etc. Remove some of the waste that is wettest and compost this green waste elsewhere for the time being. How humid is the environment where your worm bin is stored? Try adding additional air holes to your system.
If you have a tray system, lift the trays and add a layer of dry, shredded paper between the trays to soak up the excess moisture. You could also try leaving the lid of your worm bin slightly open, to allow more oxygen to flow through your system. Escaping Worms If your worm bin is in balance, your worms will not want to leave their comfortable home with its steady food source.
When you first establish your worm bin, you may experience some worms trying to escape. This happens occasionally when worms are getting used to their new environment. Encourage your worms to stay where they belong by keeping a light on where you store your bin. Worms instinctively avoid light sources, so will not crawl if a light is on above them.
If your worms still seem intent on escaping, it’s because something is not right in your system. Worms will attempt to flee an unhealthy or toxic environment. If you’ve fed your worms too much by placing an excess amount of food waste, the composting environment will heat up, and will rise to temperatures that are too hot for worms to handle.
Try removing some of this excess food waste and add extra dry shredded paper to your system. Did you add something awful to your bin? Remember, do not add processed food scraps, cooked leftovers or meat scraps to your bin. Worms are less inclined to eat this material and your bin will attract pests. Are your family pets or other animals disturbing your worm bin? If worms sense predators, they will attempt to crawl away.
Keep your cat or dog (as well as outside creatures like birds or moles) away from your bin, and don’t disturb it much yourself either – check your bin only before you add more food, and only add food when you see worms swarming in the last place you added food.
- Harvesting Worms & Using Castings Knowing when to harvest finished worm castings from your system is not an exact science, although your eyes and nose will tell you when castings are ready for harvest.
- Generally, your worm bin will produce finished castings in as little as three months, depending on how many worms you start with.
If you have a tray-style worm bin, wait to harvest castings until all the trays in your system are full. The top tray is your working tray, and should contain decomponsing food waste and the majority of worms in your system. The ray directly beneath the top tray will contain some worms, but will be filled with mostly finished castings.
- Do not harvest the castings from this tray, however! There are bound to be unhatched worm eggs in this tray, as well as adult worms that have not made their way to the top.
- The worms in this tray are consuming the last of the decomposing feed waste, so leave this tray and go to the next.
- If you have a three-tray system, the castings in yoru third tray should contain no worms, and the soil should look black and rich.
Better yet, by a fourth and fifth tray for your system and let the castings in the third tray age for even longer. If you wait 6 months or longer, and if you harvest only the castings from the very bottom tray, your finished castings will be fully broken down and filled with beneficial bacteria that are ready to go to work supplementing your soil and feeding your plant roots.
- Harvesting Methods There are several common ways to separate worms from the vermicompost in your bin.
- The harvesting method you choose depends on the type of worm bin you have.
- If you have a tray-style system, like the one describe above, it’s a siimple matter of lifting off the trays and removing the bottom tray.
Harvest the finished castings from this tray and place the empty tray on the very top. Dump And Sort If your worm bin is a single plastic tote, then one way of harvesting castings from your system is to dump the entire contents of your worm bin onto a table or tarp.
- Place a light over the mound (or harvest your bin outside on a sunny warm day and let nature provide the light source).
- Remove the top layer of the worm bin, including very fresh-looking bedding and clumps of unfinished compost.
- Set this material aside and place back into your worm bin once your tub is empty.
Next, make many small mounds of vermicompost, and shine the light over top of the mounds. You should see the worms move downward, away from light, and bury themselves deeper in the mound. Wait 15 minutes to half an hour, and gently remove the outer layer of this mound.
- The “soil” that you are removing is actually finished castings.
- Let the worms continue to move downward, scraping off the top layer of soil until you’re left with a pile of worms.
- Place the worms back in your bin, on top of the bedding and clumps of unfinished compost.
- Self Sort With this easy method, all you have to do is move all the vermicompost in the bin over to one side.
Add fresh bedding to the other side and begin begin feeding there. Wait a few weeks to a month, giving the worms in your bin time to finish consuming the decomposing waste on the one side, and eventually they will begin migrating to the fresh food source.
This is an easy method of harvesting finished castings, but it takes a long time, since you’ll be feeding only one side of your bin. Save The Worms! If you do not use a tray-style worm bin, it will be difficult to avoid removing baby worms and eggs. You can save these babies by placing your finished castings in another container and place a small mound of green waste on top.
Remember, the more worms you have, the more green waste they eat, the more castings they will produce! Using Your Vermicompost From green waste to nature’s best organic fertilizer, worm castings will benefit any soil environment. Whenever you plant seeds, move plants outdoors from inside, or whenever you transplant, simply mix a small amount of worm castings into your planting hole or row.
What can’t worms eat?
Foods you should not feed your worms: –
- Spicy food, chili, onion and garlic
- Meat and milk products
- Bread and pasta
- Cooked or processed food
- Citrus or acidic foods (though small amounts are OK)
- Oils and liquids such as soup
Should I wet my worm farm?
Once every week, pour about five litres of fresh water into the Top Working Tray, which will flood down through the lower trays, ensuring the entire worm farm remains very moist. The sudden ‘flood’ will not harm the worms. Adding water is especially important in the hotter months of the year.
How long do worm farms last?
by Jen Fong and Paula Hewitt
What is worm composting? Materials to use (and avoid) in a classroom worm bin Setting up a worm bin Containers Harvesting Using worm compost Biology of worms Successful vermicompost projects Worm bins
What is worm composting? Worm composting is using worms to recycle food scraps and other organic material into a valuable soil amendment called vermicompost, or worm compost. Worms eat food scraps, which become compost as they pass through the worm’s body.
- Compost exits the worm through its’ tail end.
- This compost can then be used to grow plants.
- To understand why vermicompost is good for plants, remember that the worms are eating nutrient-rich fruit and vegetable scraps, and turning them into nutrient-rich compost.
- Materials to use (and avoid) in a classroom worm bin For millions of years, worms have been hard at work breaking down organic materials and returning nutrients to the soil.
By bringing a worm bin into the classroom, you are simulating the worm’s role in nature. Though worms could eat any organic material, certain foods are better for the classroom worm bin. We recommend using only raw fruit and vegetable scraps. Stay away from meats, oils and dairy products, which are more complex materials than fruits and vegetables.
Thus, they take longer to break down and can attract pests. Cooked foods are often oily or buttery, which can also attract pests. Avoid orange rinds and other citrus fruits, which are too acidic, and can attract fruit flies. Try to use a variety of materials. We have found the more vegetable matter, the better the worm bin.
Stay away from onions and broccoli which tend to have a strong odor. Setting up a worm bin Setting up a worm bin is easy. All you need is a box, moist newspaper strips, and worms. To figure out how to set up a worm bin, first consider what worms need to live.
If your bin provides what worms need, then it will be successful. Worms need moisture, air, food, darkness, and warm (but not hot) temperatures. Bedding, made of newspaper strips or leaves, will hold moisture and contain air spaces essential to worms. You should use red worms or red wigglers in the worm bin, which can be ordered from a worm farm and mailed to your school.
The scientific name for the two commonly used red worms are Eisenia foetida and Lumbricus rubellus. Containers When choosing a container in which to compost with worms, you should keep in mind the amount of food scraps you wish to compost, and where the bin will be located.
A good size bin for the classroom is a 5- to 10- gallon box or approximately 24″ X 18″ X 8″. The box should be shallow rather than deep, as red wigglers are surface-dwellers and prefer to live in the top 6″ of the soil. Whether you choose a plastic, wooden or glass container to use as a worm bin is a matter of personal preference based primarily on what is available.
Some teachers have extra aquariums available. Some have wooden boxes which they would like to reuse. Others may prefer to buy or reuse a plastic container, such as commercially manufactured storage bin (e.g. “Rubbermaid,” “Tucker,” “Sterilite”). No matter what material you choose, make sure to rinse out the container before using.
For wooden bins, line the bottom with plastic (e.g. from a plastic bag or old shower curtain). Cover the bin with a loose fitting lid. This lid should allow air into the bin. Harvesting If you take care of your worms and create a favorable environment for them, they will work tirelessly to eat your “garbage” and produce compost.
As time progresses, you will notice less and less bedding and more and more compost in your bin. After 3-5 months, when your bin is filled with compost (and very little bedding), it is time to harvest the bin. Harvesting means removing the finished compost from the bin.
After several months, worms need to be separated from their castings which, at high concentrations, create an unhealthy environment for them. To prepare for harvesting, do not add new food to the bin for two weeks. Then try one of two methods for harvesting: Push all of the worm bin contents to one half of the bin, removing any large pieces of undecomposed food or newspaper.
Put fresh bedding and food scraps in empty side of bin. Continue burying food scraps only in freshly bedded half. Over the next 2-3 weeks, the worms will move over to the new side (where the food is), conveniently leaving their compost behind in one section. Dump the entire contents of the worm bin onto a sheet of plastic or paper. Make several individual cone-shaped piles. Each pile will contain worms, compost and undecomposed food and bedding. As the piles are exposed to light, the worms will migrate towards the bottom of the pile.
- Remove the top layer of compost from the pile, separating out pieces of undecomposed food and newspaper.
- After removing the top layer, let pile sit under light for 2-3 minutes as the worms migrate down.
- Then remove the next layer of compost.
- Repeat this process until all of the worms are left at the bottom of the pile.
Collect the worms, weigh them (for your record keeping) and put them back in their bin with fresh bedding. Regardless of which method you choose, the compost you harvest will most likely contain a worm or two, along with old food scraps and bedding. If you are using the compost outdoors, there is no need to worry-the worms will find a happy home and the food scraps and bedding will eventually decompose.
- If you are using the compost indoors, you may want to remove old bedding and food scraps for aesthetic purposes and ensure that there are no worms in the compost.
- Though the worms will not harm your plants, the worms may not like living in a small pot.
- For both methods, you may continue to compost your food scraps after harvesting.
Just add fresh bedding and food scraps. If, for some reason, you do not want to continue composting, please offer the setup to another teacher or to someone who will take the worm bin home. Anyone with a garden will find the worm compost extremely valuable.
As a last resort, if you cannot find anyone who wants good worm compost, you may add the worms to a garden bed. Using worm compost You can use your compost immediately, or you can store it and use it during the gardening season, or whenever. The compost can be directly mixed with your potting soil or garden soil as a soil amendment, which helps make nutrients available to plants.
Or, the compost can be used as a top dressing for your indoor or outdoor plants. You can also make “compost tea” with your compost. Simply add 1-2″ of compost to your water can or rain barrel. Allow compost and water to “steep” for a day, mixing occasionally.
- Then water plants as you normally would.
- The resulting “tea” helps make nutrients already in the soil available to plants.
- Biology of worms Worms can live for about one year in the worm bin.
- If a worm dies in your bin, you probably will not notice it.
- Since the worm’s body is about 90% water, it will shrivel up and become part of the compost rather quickly.
New worms are born and others die all the time. Worms are hermaphrodites, which means they are both male and female at the same time. In order to mate, they still require two worms. The worms line up in opposite directions near their band (or clitellum), which contains some of the sexual organs.
The worms are attached for about 15 minutes while they exchange sperm cells. Several days later, eggs come in contact with the sperm cells and form a cocoon, or egg case. The cocoon separates from the worm, then fertilization takes place. Inside the cocoon, 2-5 baby worms may be found. The baby worms live in the egg case for at least 3 weeks, sometimes longer depending on the surrounding conditions.
For example, in the winter time, baby worms may stay in the cocoon for many weeks until the temperature warms up again. When the baby worms eventually crawl out, they are the thickness of a piece of thread and possibly 1 cm 1/4″ long. Usually the worms appear white, as they have not yet developed pigmentation, or do not have enough pigmentation (or blood) to be seen.
- Successful vermicompost projects Many schools have been successfully composting with worms over the past few years.
- Some elementary school classes keep worm bins as part of an environmental unit, others for science.
- In most cases, teachers find a variety of multidisciplinary ways to use a worm bin.
- For example, one class called their room the “Worm World.” Writing assignments, math lessons and art work focused on worms as a theme.
©Jen Fong and Paula Hewitt Cornell Waste Management Institute ©1996 Soil and Crop Sciences Bradfield Hall, Cornell University Ithaca, NY 607-255-1187 [email protected]
Do worm farms like meat?
Compost worms benefit from a balanced diet. They will eat most normal kitchen fruit and vegetable scraps. Avoid feeding the worms large quantities of meat, citrus, onions and dairy foods. Some processed food also contains preservatives, which discourage the worms from eating it.
How many worms do you need to make money?
How Much Money can you make Starting a Worm Farm? – Let’s talk numbers. You can sell the worms by the numbers or by the pound. Current prices are $10 for 300 worms or about $30 per pound. The worm castings (yep, their poop) sell for about $3 a pound. In a 3-400 square foot space, you can farm about 15,000 worms.
That’s worth about $2,000. And they’ll also be using that warm, dark, dry ambiance to product more worms. In the bedding you’ll see small oval balls, which are worm eggs. Each egg should hold several worms. How much can you make? That depends on how many worms you have.
Can you make money with worms?
You can sell excess composting worms to fisherfolk and anglers. You can sell worms to gardeners. You can sell the worm compost filled with worm castings that you create. You can sell compost tea.