14 December 2010

1000 New Friends

A Greg Post:

After living in Halifax for a little over two years I got very used to composting and enjoyed the fact that I was doing something useful and good for the environment with all of my food scraps. When I recently moved to Saint John, NB I was faced with the prospect of not being able to compost my kitchen scraps anymore. Not because the city doesn't compost, they do. However, because I live in a building with more than 4 units we have a private contractor that deals with our waste "life leftovers". So I decided to learn a few things about vermicomposting. Through watching some tutorial videos (I have to give props to one in particular) and reading lots I finally decided that I would give it a shot. I quickly ran into the first hurdle. Turns out to start a composter the size I was hoping for I needed to get 1lb of worms (approx. 1000 individual worms). So I was faced with the question: Where the hell do you get 1000 worms? Not only that but I needed a certain species, namely, large red earth worms or eisenia hortensis

Again the internet held the answer in the form of the Jolly Farmer, that just so happens to be located in North Hampton, NB. So I didn't have to go very far, in fact, the worms were delivered to me (not quite to my doorstep as I missed the delivery and had to bike to the warehouse to pick them up).
I wonder what the Delivery Driver thought of these warnings...
So, when  finally got my worms home it was time to introduce them to their new home. I had prepared the box the day before. Here is the play-by-play:
I started with a rubbermaid storage bin
Then Drilled holes to allow air. Air is one of the three things worms need to live.
A lot of holes on both sides...
...and the ends...
...Just a few in the bottom to in the hopes of little leakage which so far has been avoided...
...and some more in the top.

The next step is to get the inside of the bin ready. I used a bunch of old papers for the bedding and shredded them to allow for proper air circulation. You need to soak the stuff that you are putting on the bottom (hence bedding) as the 2nd thing worms require to live is moisture (I believe it should be somewhere between %75-90 humidity in the bin). So you just need to soak the paper then ring it out fairly well before placing it in the bin.
The bin with bedding down and about half of the shredded newspaper left over to be used later.

After the bedding is down the next step is to actually put the worms in their new home. They came in this burlapish sack.

My new roomates!

Getting to know each other a little.

Here they are in the new home, including the little bit of soil they came in.

After the worms are in you then add the dry shredded paper left over. You have to added dry shredded paper every so often as the worms will eat the bedding as it sucks up moisture and food bits. The worms also like dark places and burrowing so this dry bedding allows them both those luxuries.  

This is a couple of weeks in. The worms have started munching down the food (something to eat is the 3rd thing that worms need) and you can see a decent mix of food and worm poo (also called castings, since they are cast off from the worm), this is what gets mixed with soil and can be used as fertilizer.

A bin this size is supposed to be able to support the food scraps of two people. So far so good with one person. Supposedly the castings make amazing fertilizer so perhaps I will have to post some pictures of my "Superman" plants after they have been rooted in some castings...and after I get some plants. Oh well, but why share living space with only a couple living things when you can share it with 1000?  


  1. Just a few tips....

    -if your bin sweats too much, add some dry material like dryer lint, hair from your brush, non treated wood shavings or used coffee filters

    -Too much of anything is bad.

    Example 1 - I had a huge jar of flaxseed that was off. I put the whole thing in the bin, and disaster! The whole bin sprouted.

    Example 2 - too much coffee is bad. We had a large vermicomposter in the lab when I was in school. We drank lots of coffee, so our worms were fed a diet of coffee grinds. Our bin was so rank it smelled like rotten bum. I even accused a labmate of smelling bad. But alas it was not him it was the worms!

    -Too much citrus can burn the worms stomach, plus it will attract fruit flies.

    Good luck with your vermicomposting - it is lots of fun!!

  2. Thanks for the tips!

    I have had a bit of an issue with sweating and was able to solve it by adding dry, shredded newspaper.


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