Last weekend we embarked on a new adventure in vermicomposting, or becoming “worm farmers” as Little A likes to say! We bought a large bin of approximately 4,000 Red Wigglers worms. I’d been thinking about getting worms for the last few months, but it wasn’t on my priority list so didn’t give it much thought. Then I happened to see an ad on Craigslist for a bin of Red Wigglers. We were the first to respond to the ad so drove into town and bought them. I really wasn’t too sure how to take care of them since this was such a spur of the moment purchase. I hadn’t had time to do any research like I normally do before jumping into a new project. Luckily vermicomposting is pretty simple to learn!
Some of you may have never heard of vermicomposting or may be wondering why we wanted to become “worm farmers”. The number one reason is to make compost. We have a compost tumbler bin but it is rather slow in making compost. We can’t have an uncovered pile of compost with food scraps in it because we already have an overpopulation of mice. Plus, when we tried a fenced in compost pile on the ground, the dogs always managed to get in and eat it too!
Our compost tumbler bin also freezes for about six months out of the year so our compost making has been rather slow. With a new 7,000 square foot vegetable garden, we desperately need compost. And lots of it. What we don’t have is a lot of money to spend on buying a big truck load of compost. Instead we decided to make a smaller investment in a bunch of Red Wigglers worms.
We can “feed” the red wigglers kitchen scraps, shredded paper, and garden waste like weeds. They will consume it and their castings (basically their poo) is the leftover compost. Sounds pretty simple right? I’ve even heard from a bunch of folks who keep their worm bins in the house and even in the kitchen! That’s the other benefit of vermicomposting, it typically doesn’t have the same potential odors of a traditional compost bin.
Here’s a peek inside our worm composting bin. We had just added some sweet potato peels which I probably could have chopped a little smaller. Either way, the worms will eventually consume them!
I remember my dad raised worms when I was a kid. He raised night crawlers, mainly to use for fishing in the many creeks and lakes around where we lived. My memories of this are vague, but what I do remember is a big wood crate on the dirt floor cellar of our old farm house. We weren’t a coffee drinking family, so I remember my Grandparents saved their coffee grounds for us to put in the worm bin. My mom was a homemade from scratch cooker in the kitchen so we always had plenty of food scraps to feed the worms. I don’t remember much about my dad’s worm farming adventures so for me this new adventure feels like starting from scratch with my learning.
Our worms are in a plastic tub with a lid. There are holes drilled in the lid for ventilation. There are a few holes drilled in the bottom to allow excess moisture to leak out. Because there are holes in the bottom, I sat the plastic tub on top of two bricks to elevate it off the ground. This thing isn’t very fancy but it works. One day I would love to get one of these snazzy things since it looks like it would be easier to harvest the compost.
I asked around the homestead blogging community to see if anyone else did vermicomposting. I was thrilled when I connected with a couple other “worm farmers”. These folks are a wealth of information and have been so helpful in this new adventure! Here are the articles we read so far:
- Worm Composting 101 from Your Gardening Friend. This was the most comprehensive list of information with links to numerous vermicomposting articles she wrote.
- Worm Bins vs Worm Towers: Vermicomposting Methods Explained from Homestead Chronicles
- Vermicomposting- I’m a Worm Overlord from Gentleman Homestead Consulting
- Red Wigglers vs Earth Worms in Vermicomposting from Pint Size Farm
- Vermicomposting- Making Worms Do the Work from Pint Size Farm
We have our worm bin on the covered back porch for now. We were going to put it in the shop, but until it warms up more we thought the porch was a better option. Plus Little A and I love going out to “feed the wormies” and check on their progress. We also plan to sacrifice a few worms for Little A to go fishing in a nearby pond with her Snoopy fishing rod. Maybe our worms will also help us catch some fish to eat!