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Making A Worm Composter

Worm composting is a fun, exciting and natural way of recycling all your kitchen wastes, including your veggie scraps, fruit peels and cores, coffee grounds and tea bags. It can be done year-round, indoors and outdoors, in apartments, houses, offices and schools. Not only is it fun and exciting, but it is also easy to make your own!

Essentials To Worm Composting (What You Will Need):

  • 1 pound red wriggler worms (a.k.a. tiger or brandling worms)
  • A plastic tub (we recommend a blue Rubbermaid that is wider than it is deep.)
  • Some sand or gravel (a handful will do)
  • Shredded office or newspaper (for the worm's bedding)
  • 1 rubber boot mat (so the water doesn't leak)

How to Make Your Worm Composter:

  1. Drill (or nail) some breathing holes into the lid and bottom of the plastic bin (approx 20 holes on the top and bottom.)
  2. Put down 15 cm of damp bedding material (sprinkle some water on the shredded paper), using your hands to 'fluff' it up once watered.
  3. Place a handful of sand or gravel at the bottom of the bin for drainage and to help the worms digest the kitchen scraps faster.
  4. Place the bin on top of the boot mat and store in a temperate location

Once you have built your composter, dig a small hollow in the bedding material and place the worms inside. Then you can start adding your food scraps.  The smaller the pieces of kitchen waste, the faster the worms can digest the food.

Bury the scraps in the bedding in small batches, moving them around the bin. This allows the waste to always be covered up (to stop bad odors) and it requires the worms to migrate through the worm bin increasing the number of castings.

Only add more food when the worms have finished what you added last. The speed the food is processed will depend on the number of worms, the time of year and the type of food added.

Never overfeed the composter. The food will rot, upsetting the worms and making nasty smells!

When choosing a location to leave your worm bin, remember worms like a dark, cool spot where the bin will not be exposed to direct sunlight, heavy rain, or cold temperatures.

 **below 4 degrees, the worm bin should be moved inside**

After a 1-3 months you can harvest the bin, put the worms back and start again! There are 2 methods of worm harvesting:

  1. Worms do the Sorting - Place the finished worm castings to one side of the bin, place some new bedding in the space created and put the kitchen scraps in the new bedding. Worms will gradually move over to the new area in search of food. Once this occurs, remove castings and use.
  2. Hand Sorting - Separate by hand the worms from the castings; remember to remove the cocoons as well. This is time consuming, but fun!

What Can I Put In My Worm Compost Bin?

Worm nodding

Worms Favourite Foods

Worm nodding

Not Good For Your Worm Bin

  • Egg shells (worms need calcium and egg shells are an excellent way of supplying this and keeping the bin from getting too acidic)
  • Coffee grounds and tea bags
  • Cereals
  • Fruit
  • Cooked Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Bread
  • Green Leaves
  • Rice or Pasta
  • Vegetable Peelings
  • Onions
  • Meat and Fish
  • Grass in any quantity (heats up and gives off ammonia, both of which will kill worms)
  • Weed Seeds
  • Diseased plant material
  • Cat/dog feces (these contain human parasites)

Common Problems With Your Worms

What are the tiny flies in my worm bin?

These are probably fruit flies, which commonly occur on rotting fruit and vegetables. A tight fitting lid will help to exclude them. Also, if you bury the vegetable waste as you add it, or keep it covered with damp newspaper, they are less likely to be a problem. Flies do not harm the compost, although they can be irritating and offensive to some people.

My worm bin smells horribly - why?

Odours may come from your bin when it is overloaded with kitchen wastes. If this occurs, gently lift up the entire contents of the bin to introduce air. Stop adding wastes until the worms have broken down what is in the bin.people.

I am going on holiday - will my worms die if not fed?

An established worm bin can be left for up to four weeks with no adverse effects if you feed the worms well before you leave. If left for longer periods the worm population would slowly decline.

The contents of my worm bin are moldy - am I doing something wrong?

No. This can happen as vegetable waste starts to decompose. It will not harm the worms and should soon disappear. Turning the waste into the bedding with a small fork can help.