Composting II: Introducing Worms to Your Bin

Last week I shared details on building a compost bin to be used for vermicomposting. Now we're ready for the next step of making the bedding for the worms and introducing them to the bin. 


It was suggested by the instructor of the free library workshop that I attended that Red Wigglers are the best type of worms to be used for vermicomposting and he recommended starting with a pound of worms.  These can be purchased online from various sources or from any place that sells fishing bait.  My container is a bit larger than the one our instructor demonstrated in the workshop, but I've decided to stick with using a pound of worms because after reading the literature given to us, I found out there are at least 500 worms in a pound and that, if happy in their conditions, they can multiply really quickly and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little creeped out thinking about potentially having hundreds of worms in my back yard.  It is undecided at this point if I will ever sleep well again knowing that.  I purchased my worms online from Worms, Etc., located in Greer, SC.  My worms arrived alive and well the day after they were shipped. 


Shredded newspaper and cardboard are used for the worm bedding.  You can rip the paper into shreds yourself or if you have access to a paper shredder, that does the trick too.  I used two daily editions and a Sunday edition of my local newspaper to start with.  Once the papers are shredded, soak them in water until they are thoroughly wet and then squeeze the water out before adding it to the bin (pull the paper apart just a bit and fluff it so it's not one big wet clump).  You will need to make sure your bedding always stays moist (but not dripping wet) in the bin so keep a spray bottle handy in case you need to add moisture.  The worms prefer dark and moist conditions and will not survive long if their bedding dries out. As you are adding the shredded wet paper, also toss in a couple of handsful of dirt here and there.  The worms require this to help process and digest the food scraps.  The bedding will eventually be broken down and become part of the composting process so you'll need to add more bedding as needed.  Think about shredding and saving your junk mail, napkins, and paper towels. 


When the bedding is done, it's time to add the worms.  Worms prefer to live and work in darkness, so after you put them into their new home, leave the lid off for a bit to force them to burrow into the bedding.  It will take a little while for them to get used to their new surroundings so you'll want to wait a day before feeding them.  In the meantime, save some of your vegetable and fruit scraps from the kitchen for a couple of days prior to adding your worms so you'll have something for the first feeding.  The next post will discuss in more detail what you can feed your worms and how often you should feed them.

My bin is now situated in the far corner of my yard, next to my garden and under a shade tree. 

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