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admin | Category: Ed Treatment San Antonio | 27.09.2015
I know you want to start a worm bin and compost much of what you are currently landfilling.
The number one chunk of misinformation out there which needs to be shot down in flames is that you need to purchase worms for an outdoor compost bin. The spinning (sometimes called a barrel) or tumbler composter is a commercial gimmick to convince you that anyone, including small children or pets, can turn the whole pile at once in a few seconds. Backyard Ecosystem began as an expression of my determination to make a difference in our own backyard.
For the last little while I have been adding all my food scraps to my normal backyard composter, rather than my outdoor worm bin (pictured above), although as mentioned yesterday, I’ve now converted the composter into a worm bin too. I will be providing full coverage on Red Worm Composting (and another soon-to-be-revealed site) this time around, so all my faithful vermi-friends (readers, not worms) will be able to follow along! Basically I need to make room in the bin so I can 1) More easily add insulating layers of cardboard against the inside walls of the bin, and 2) Free up lots of space for fresh materials, which will be vitally important in order to generate a decent amount of microbial heat. It’s been amazing watching just how quickly the level of the material in the bin goes down now that I’m no longer adding anything! I will also likely test out a new strategy this year for making sure the contents of the bin don’t freeze during the coldest months. I live in Denmark and although it is nowhere near as cold as some parts of Canada and the US, Temps can go down to -20 C, I thought about using a low wattage infra red bulb, the same kind that you use for young poultry to keep the temp. I have not tried any sort of bulb myself, but I imagine it would provide a decent amount of warmth – the only question is how much your utility bill might be!
Anyway, I’m almost finished insulating my outdoor bin – as mentioned, a video will be on the way shortly!
Those are good questions, especially considering how much I harp about keeping bin conditions aerobic!
For starters, I aim to keep temperatures fairly low (in comparison to summer vermicomposting that is). I try to open up the bin at least every other day (although sometimes it goes longer), so that helps.
Have you considered instead of using a tarp you could try building a “solar heat collector” and using that as the cover to the bin?
Bentley, id love to hear what you think of jonathans solar cover idea , i am living where there is no electricity and keeping worms alive during the winter(in N.Y. I’m in north eastern North Carolina and I keep my totes of worms in a closed room off the side of my open garage.
When it comes to composting a constant stream of home kitchen scraps, compost worms are hard to beat.
Like many people, when we thought it would be a cool idea to start composting with worms, we built a double-decker bin out of two 18 gallon rubbermaid containers, basically stacked on top of one-another with holes drilled in the bottom for air and to allow worms to move between the two bins.
At some spots in my yard, the water table isn’t too far below ground, so putting a worm pit there would be a terrible idea.
The blocks that form the edge are just simple 8x8x16 concrete blocks stacked two high, no mortar or anything.
To give the blocks a little weight and keep them from shifting around, I filled the lower blocks in with the subsoil, and put the topsoil inside the ones up top. The cover on the top is just some old fence lumber I had laying around the garage, though you could of course use just about anything: old doors, a tarp, plywood, an old mattress, you name it. Once it is all together, all that is needed is bedding for the worms, and then of course the worms themselves. This worm pit has been enough to keep up with the vegetable scraps from our little family of three, as well as a good deal of various yard trimmings.
Houseflies and fruit flies have not been a problem, with the exception of one time when I added 14lb of spent barley from home brewing. The only detail I’m not clear on is the bottom- did you cover the bottom of the pit with bricks, too? So when I heard about the Worm Factory 360, a worm composting system that can be used indoors or out, it seemed right up my critter-loving alley. The Worm Factory 360 bin makes vermicomposting a simple, clean, and efficient process of turning your food scraps into fertilizer for your garden. Worm castings (a euphemism for worm poop) can be spread directly on your soil, or used to brew compost tea.
My worm bin arrived in one tidy box with all the components needed to set up my system: stacking trays, sprinkler tray, worm ladder, base with spigot, shredded newspaper, pumice, coir, rake.
To set up the system, start by layering a few sheets of dry newspaper in the bottom of your working tray. After a half hour of digging through our compost, flinging worms at each other and squealing with amusement (or at least, I was squealing), we had a bowl full of slithering, writhing, red wiggler worms.
I moved my bin outside and added the worms in one big pile on top of the shredded newspaper.
Then, I moistened a few sheets of newspaper and placed them on top of everything in the tray. The bin needs to be placed in a sheltered area outside, away from direct sunlight and out of the rain.
After letting the worms settle into their new surroundings for a couple days, I pulled back the sheets of newspaper and found that most of them had burrowed beneath the shredded paper layer. I found the worms actively crawling around the food scraps, so they were already busy getting to work.
After two weeks, the food was starting to decompose, making it easier for the worms to digest.


Red wigglers can eat half their weight in food per day, so a thousand wigglers can eat half a pound of food every day. In the meantime, if you’ve ever been curious about vermicomposting and want to try it yourself, I highly recommend the Worm Factory 360.
Start vermicomposting now, and you’ll have a full tower of trays filled with fertilizer for next spring! If you liked this post, be sure to sign up for our mailing list andget every Garden Betty update delivered straight to your inbox!
More in Jardin, MierdaPeak of Summer HarvestLast week, I came home to an overflowing garden after spending five days in the mountains. An entire community in England has rallied around this simple idea and changed their world. Earth Day is coming up and everyone wants to save the planet, so why haven’t you done it already?
Yet another reminder of just how awesome composting worms are when it comes to processing wastes.
It is actually a technique Mary Appelhoff (vermicomposting legend, who sadly passed away a couple years ago) used to keep her outdoor bins active during Michigan winters. My neighbours will once again think I’m even more of a weirdo than they already do, and I think I can definitely succeed this time!! Thanks for the bird bath heater tip, I believe this will help me and my wormy pals feel much better.
Lower temperatures means lower rates of respiration in the bin (thus less oxygen consumption).
Also, the bin itself is not sealed like a plastic tub – it is made of slats of wood with spaces in between.
Something along the lines of a box slightly larger than you bin painted black on the inside (possibly even filled with aluminum cans painted black) covered with a layer of glass or plexi glass. They quickly break down food scraps into beautiful black worm castings that are just awesome for the garden.
We filled each with shredded moist newspaper bedding, added our 1lb of worms we got in the mail, and started feeding ’em. Your site may vary, but if an area floods regularly, it probably isn’t a good site for a worm pit. It is probably a good idea to level the blocks, as I did, but since we aren’t building anything that needs to be perfect, you could probably get by without doing so. During the rainy season I plan on growing something in there, but for now I haven’t really bothered with it. Here I’m mostly talking about cats, dogs, racoons, etc that could get in and drag food scraps all over the place.
Worms are negatively phototactic, so if a bright light is shining on their pile, they tend to burrow deeper.
Bedding can really be anything that will hold some moisture and take a little while to break down. They’re about 3-4 inches long, breed quickly, and are great at turning food scraps into compost.
We started off with a fairly small population of worms, and they took a little while to get their population built up.
The flies were all over it, but adding a cover of an inch or two of mulch seemed to make them lose interest.
You can also feed them only in one half of the pit for a while, letting that half build up a good concentration of castings, then switch to feeding on the other side.
No, I didn’t line the bottom because I wanted the worms to be able to escape into the soil a little bit if temperatures demanded it.
At this point the pit has been there for about 4 months, give or take, and I have yet to see any of the dreaded land planarians you’re referring to actually in there with the worms. I was always one of those kids that was fascinated with spiders, fried ants with magnifying glasses, and picked up lizards by their tails only to be left with the tails, and not the lizards. Nature’s Footprint sent me one to try, and I’ve been intrigued with it ever since! With a traditional compost pile, you wait for your scraps to decompose naturally through heat and bacteria.
They are rich in natural humus, nitrogen, potash, phosphorous, and calcium, all of which contribute to healthy plant growth. The initial assembly is a simple process that involves stacking up the base, worm ladder, working tray, and lid, in that order. You’ll need a cup of active compost from your existing compost pile in the garden, or a cup of decayed leaf litter from beneath the shrubs on your street. I used my paper shredder to slice up a stack of newspaper, but you can also just tear apart junk mail, cardboard, catalogs and magazines.
Luckily, my regular compost bin in the yard is just teeming with worms every time I open it up, but you can find red wigglers (also known as Eisenia fetida) on Craigslist or at Find Worms. That equals roughly a pound of worms, so I recruited my guy to help me hand-pick worms out of our compost bin.
I put mine right outside my kitchen door, so that kitchen scraps collected in my countertop compost pail can easily be moved to the worm bin every week. When the first tray is full with a few inches of food (usually after a month), you can add a second tray on top and your worms will naturally migrate upward.
The worm population will also double every three months, so subsequent trays will be finished at a faster rate.


The top sheets of newspaper should be re-moistened when dry, and more shredded paper can be added to the bin if it gets too wet inside.
I only check on my wormy friends once or twice a week when I feed them, and it’s more for my own fascination than to perform any real maintenance.
You can find all the pertinent links (and pictures) on our EcoSherpa Squidoo Lens (photo links are part way down the page, followed by links to the blog posts). What she did was put a bird bath heater inside a bottle of water and buried it in the centre of the bin. Obviously we need SOME O2 consumption however since that is what generates the warmth in the bin! Many people use different above-ground methods of bins, drawers, shelves, etc to do vermicomposting, but I’ve found that for my situation, putting the little guys in the ground saves me a lot of headache. It didn’t take long for us to realize that we create entirely too much compostable kitchen waste for one little bin of worms to handle. In our case, our house is built on a pretty good mound, and I was able to dig this into part of the slope in the back yard. When I set up my original plastic bin, I bought a pound of african nightcrawlers, because they’re more tolerant of hotter temperatures, grow larger, produce darker castings, and are more preferred for fishing. You definitely could, even going so far as to pour a concrete bottom if you were so inclined. There are certainly flatworms in the area, I’ll see em under stuff every now and then, but my understanding is that not all planarians are the type a vermicomposter need worry about.
With vermiculture, you let your worms do all the work by digesting the scraps and pooping them out — resulting in nutrient-rich worm castings.
This is a quick way to bring microbes into your vermiculture bin and kick-start the breakdown of your scraps. Mine included crushed eggshells, onion wrappers, herb flowers, and some odds and ends from various veggies. As opposed to other worms, such as earthworms, red wigglers make effective composting worms because they stay relatively close to the surface and are efficient eaters and reproducers.
You can even put it in a garage or basement (which is recommended in winter if you live in a northern climate, since worms can’t survive freezing environments). No part of this site may be copied, reproduced, republished or distributed without express written consent of the copyright holder. Everything underlying the movement toward greening our cites over the last several decades. Or you know that composting is one of the easiest things you can do to save the world, but don’t know how to get started. This ensured that the water in the bottle was always above zero, thus helping to keep the surround material above zero as well. With all the extra food just sitting their waiting for the worms to eat we got fruit flies, we got mites, and we got stink, so we moved the bin outside in a shaded part of the porch, and cut back on the amount we were giving them.
Being in contact with the ground provides the worms with much more stable temperatures year round than they would if they were in bins.
With indoor bins, most people do newspaper or cardboard, but you can also use leaves, mulch, palm straw, animal bedding, old shredded shirts, just about anything. When I set up this in-ground pit, I didn’t want to wait for my then decimated population of nightcrawlers to built itself back up, so I got about a half gallon of vermicompost and red wigglers from a friend and added both types of worms in.
In addition to worms, it has provided habitat for a number of beneficial garden species, including small toads, spiders, earwigs (these have benefits and drawbacks), black soldier flies, and even a little garden snake every now and then.
This technique can also help if you don’t want to take worms out of the pit and put them in your garden. If land planarians do end up conquering my nightcrawlers, I will certainly document it so people can learn from it. Afterwards I’ll fill the freshly dug side with mulch, leaves, shredded newspaper, etc and start feeding over there exclusively for a week or two, then dig up the other side. I love to turn weekend getaways into week-long road trips and spend my days in the sun, sand or surf. I could of course go completely overboard and install soil heating cables, but I think that would be a tad excessive (not to mention expensive as far as my utility bill goes!). It might be a little involved for me to do something like that in this situation, but what I HAVE been thinking about is placing clear plastic over top of the black tarp that already sits on the bed – this way I should be able to hold some of the solar-generated heat in a little longer. The flies and mites died down a bit, but then we started having temperature problems: in the summer the worms were too hot, and during cold fronts they were too cold, and just about every day we would have a bunch of dried out escapees on the cement all around the bin.
Sure, I may lose some nutrients down slope that way, but I figure a small fruit tree just down slope will be all the happier then. A few pieces here and there that take their time to break down is fine, especially here in Florida where things break down quickly anyways, and I figure worms in the garden can’t hurt. You kind of get a feel for it, but a good test is to squeeze a bunch of it between your hands. If a drop or two of water comes out, kind of like a wrung out washcloth, you’re good.




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