What type of worms are used?
Red Wrigglers are the recommended species and the only one that is widely available. The natural habitat of these worms are decaying leaves and manure piles, which are rich in organic and fiberous materials. This is the environment we are creating in our vermicompost bins.
Can I use earthworms? No, earthworms found in your garden and soil are not used to the vermicompost bin environment. They need deep soil to tunnel through. They are also not able to live in these organic rich enviroments.
Where do I get Red Wrigglers?
Red Wrigglers are difficult to find in large numbers in nature and I don’t have a lot of advice on where and how to find them. The good news is they are easy to purchase.
The least expensive and easiest way to get a large amount of worms in online. This will allow you to get enough quality worms to get your bin running quickly and with the least amount of problems.
Smaller quantities of red wrigglers can be purchased at bait shops. This is not ideal as you will end up paying a much higher price for a much smaller quantity of worms. Also make sure you are purchasing red wrigglers and not earthworms.
How many worms do I need?
The amount of worms you need is based on the amount of organic material you have for them to eat. Quickly think back to what you bought and ate last week, it doesn’t need to be exact just a quick guess. Consider coffee grounds, tea bags, banana peels, broccoli stalks, for a full list see WHAT TO VCOMPOST.
Worms eat roughly half of their body weight in organic scraps each day. So if you created roughly 3 pounds of organic trash last week, that is about a half pound per day. So you would need about one pound of worms to start.
|Weekly Organic Scraps||Daily Organic Scraps||Worms to Start|
|3 Pounds||1/2 Pound||1 Pound of Worms|
|7 Pounds||1 Pound||2 Pounds of Worms|
|10 Pounds||1.5 Pounds||3 Pounds of Worms|
If you are unsure how much organics you create, most people start with one pound of worms. The good news is that bins will adjust and your worm population will grow or decrease to adjust to how much you feed it. If you start will too few of worms, you will need to ensure you don’t overfeed the bin as the population grows. This would lead to uneaten food and a smelly bin.
How do worms operate?
Understanding a little bit about how worms function will help you keep them happy. Worms don’t have eyes but can detect light. They are sensitive to light and will dig into the bin to avoid it.
Worms don’t have lungs, instead they breath through their skin. Their skin must remain moist for them to survive, but if they don’t have air they will drown. Maintaining the right amount moisture and air is key to a well running bin.
Worms don’t have teeth and they are not able to bite off chucks of material. They feed off of the decayed bits of organic material as it breaks down. Your bin is full of bacteria, microorganisms, and bugs that help break down the material and prepare it for your worms to eat.
Worms have gizzards which are like stomaches filled with grit. This grit helps to grind up the material inside the gizzard. It is important when starting a bin that you add soil into the bin to give worms the grit they need for their gizzard. After grinding their food, the food is passed down the digestive tract and digested. This process of grind and digesting is what makes vermicompost such as powerful fertilizer.
How quick do worms reproduce?
After you establish the bin and things are running well, your worms will start reproducing. This occurs when two worms attach together at the swollen band around their body. About a week later the worm will lay an egg into the compost. This eggs look similar to little lemons. If the conditions are correct these eggs can hatch 2-7 worms in about 30-60 days. If conditions are not correct, these worms can lay dormant for two years.