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A worm composting system harnesses red compost worms, Eisinea foetida, and a contained forest floor ecosystem to convert kitchen scraps and shredded paper into worm castings, one of the best organic fertilizers you can get. Beneficial bacteria and fungi are concentrated in the last chamber of the worm gut, and inoculate the worm castings as they pass through. Organic soil amendments and potting mixes need the soil food web to break organic materials in the mix down into plant-usable nutrients.
Fresh worm castingsa€”complete with worms and worm cocoonsa€”are the best way to introduce this forest floor ecosystem to container gardens. All of my houseplants, potted vegetables and salad table trays use red worms composting to cycle nutrients. In landfills, kitchen scraps are compacted, and the carbon in them produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas that traps 26 times as much heat as carbon dioxide.
A worm composting bin allows you to convert kitchen waste and shredded junk mail into a rich, odorless organic fertilizer for houseplants, vegetable container gardens, salad table trays, and balcony farms.
Some carbon dioxide is released as a waste product, but the amount is small, and ita€™s much less damaging than the methane that the same scraps would produce in a landfill. The most basic worm composting system is a simply a plastic tote with a snap-on lid, holes drilled in the bottom for drainage, and a few holes drilled in the sides for ventilation.
Rest the bin in a 24a€? x 18a€? (60 x 45 cm) plastic concrete mixing tray, purchased from the same hardware store you bought the tote from, to catch the leachate that drains from the bin.
If the leachate wasna€™t drained off occasionally, fluids would accumulate and the bottom of the bin would go anaerobic, producing odors and toxins that could eventually kill your worms.
Drilling holes in the bottom and allowing the leachate to collect in a tray below the bin solved this problem, but it can still be messy and cumbersome emptying the leachate, especially when therea€™s a lot of it. Harvesting worm castings is also more problematic than it is with an upward migrating worm composting system.
Upward migrating worm composting bins like the Worm Factory 360 have a leachate collecting tray with a spigot at the bottom, and a series of stacking trays with grid bottoms above.
The leachate is collected in a closed container below the trays, and the spigot makes it easy to drain this a€?worm teaa€? from the bins. Diluted 50-50 with water, worm tea makes an excellent quick-release organic fertilizer for houseplants and container vegetable gardens.
When the first tray is nearly full, simply add bedding and food to the tray above, and most of the red compost worms will follow the food and migrate up into the new tray, allowing you to harvest the castings from the first tray. Although red compost worms are the main players in any worm composting system, a fully functional worm composting system relies on other compost critters, not just red wriggler worms, to break down wastes.
Red compost worms dona€™t really eat the kitchen scraps you put in the bin, they eat the bacteria and fungi that thrive in the mixture of bedding and food scraps that you provide. Forest floor denizens like millipedes, orabitid turtle mites, and other a€?shreddersa€? chew and shred paper, cardboard, and leaves, breaking them into smaller pieces that bacteria and fungi can consume. These are some of the compost critters you can see in a mature worm composting system, but there are billions of microscopic bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and nematodes that you cana€™t see, working their way through the bin. All of them contribute to the richness of the worm castings you harvest from your worm composting system. Bedding Materials like corrugated cardboard, paper towel and toilet paper tubes, egg cartons, shredded newspaper, and shredded bank statements. Food, like ends and peels of vegetables, chopped kitchen scraps, coffee grounds and filters and dried, crushed eggshells. A Source of Grit, like fine sand, a handful or two of good garden soil, dried eggshells ground in a food processor, or ground oyster shell. Composting Red Worms can be dug up from under any leaf pile, or purchased below, along with any other worm composting supplies you need.
Ia€™ve found that the worms adjust much more quickly to their new surroundings if some of their forest floor allies are there to help break the materials down.
If you order your worms the same day you order your worm bin, the worms will arrive first, and youa€™ll have a problem.
Red compost worms are shipped overnight, and arrive at your door a day or two after you order them. You can try to time the orders to arrive the same day, but if therea€™s a shipping delay with your bins, your worms will suffer. Ita€™s a good idea to mix the bedding and food for your first worm composting system a few days before your red compost worms arrive. Bedding consists of torn-up corrugated cardboard, toilet paper and paper towel rolls, shredded newspaper, and shredded paper.
I do use coir to fix problems with fungus gnats or excess aciditya€”see troubleshooting below.
Food consists of chopped-up kitchen scraps, coffee grounds and filters, and other items from your kitchen waste stream.
Temperature and moisture are critical to the health and vigor of your worm composting system. Unfortunately, he left it on the sunny balcony when he went camping during the first heat wave of summer, and came back to a horrible mess. It smelled like a combination of road kill and dead fish, and the larger worms, which had fled through the open leachate spigot, had fallen onto the hot brick below, forming a 2a€? thick, platter-sized latke of dead, dried worms. If your worm composting system stays consistently above or below these temperature ranges, youa€™re going to have problems.
At the upper end of this range, worm populations climb rapidly, oxygen is used up more quickly, and problems with increased acidity arise, especially in a crowded bin. Some sun on the bin is usually okay from late fall to mid-spring, but make sure you move the bin to full shade once it starts warming up toward summer. Soak the coir brick that comes with the bin in a large bowl or bucket with a gallon of water.
Dip 2 full sheets of newspaper in water to moisten, and fold them to fit over the bottom of the bin while the cardboard and coir are soaking. Dip 2 full sheets of newspaper in the cardboard soaking water to wet the paper, then spread it out on top of the bedding. Dona€™t feed them again until the bin ecosystem kicks in and castings start accumulating under the newspaper. Worms eat less in fall and winter, when the nights are long and the days are cool, and more in the spring and summer, when ita€™s hot during the day and warm at night. The way you gauge how much food to give your worms is by how much is left of the food you put in the last time you fed them. Excessive amounts of any particular food all at oncea€”even foods worms normally lovea€”will create problems in your worm composting system.
Carrot peels are strongly anti-fungal, and citrus peels contain citrus terpenes that can only be broken down by blue-green molds. Since bacteria and fungi are the main diet of red compost worms, dona€™t overload your bins with peelings. Peels from a few potatoes are fine, but dona€™t try running all the potato peels from mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving dinner for 10 through your worm composting system at the same time. A few lemon or lime halves thrown into your worm bin now and then wona€™t be a problem, but dona€™t dump a pail of lime rinds from a mojito party into the bin. Some people insist you should never put citrus in a worm bin, or even a compost pile, but once blue-green molds have broken down the terpenes in the peel, other organisms can break down whata€™s left. Inorganic materialsa€”like plastic, glass, and metala€”obviously wona€™t break down, and should be avoided. Salty and vinegary materials inhibit bacteria and fungi in a worm composting system, so pickles are a no-no. Worms graze on the bacteria and fungi that thrive in the mixture of bedding and food scraps you provide for them. Kitchen scraps contain a lot of nitrogen, and have to be balanced by high-carbon materials like shredded paper or cardboard in a worm composting system. Most problems with odors, flies, or worms that fail to thrive arise from excess nitrogen in the worm bin. Use a 50-50 mixture of finely-shredded paper and chopped kitchen scraps when you feed your worms. Mix the bedding and scraps together in a large bowl, instead of layering them on separately. Chopping kitchen scraps into small pieces results in a more even breakdown, and faster conversion into worm castings. Ita€™s not necessary, but if you dona€™t chop, you may have to fish out larger pieces that havena€™t broken down when you harvest the castings, and run them back through the bin another time. In sheet feeding, the mixture of bedding and food is spread in an even layer over the top of the worm bin. In Pocket Feeding, you dig a hole big enough to accommodate bedding and food in one part of the bin, bury the food, then dig in another part of the bin the next time you feed your worms. When the castings in your worm composting system form a uniform, black mass, ita€™s time to harvest the tray. If the castings are wet and muddy, you may want to reverse the trays for a few days, putting the bottom tray on top, and moving the other trays down. Once they've dried a little, dump the tray to be harvested onto a small tarp or into a concrete mixing tub. Contrary to popular belief, cutting a worm in two will produce two halves of a dead worm, not two new worms (this works with microscopic flatworms, not red compost worms).


Comb your fingers (or a hand cultivator) through the castings to break them up and aerate them. To harvest worm castings from a simple tote worm bin or box, spread a tarp on the ground on a warm, sunny day, and wet it down with a hose. Starting at the top, scrape the castings into a second, larger bucket, peeling off an inch or so of the mound at a time.
Use worm castings in container vegetable potting mixes, houseplants, or around vegetable plants in your garden. Store unused worm castings in simple tote worm bin, or a bucket with several folds of wet newpaper or a piece of wet cardboard or burlap on top. DO NOT seal the bucket with a tight-fitting lida€”unless you want to be greeted by a horrible smell the next time you open it. Adjust the moisture level by adding dry, shredded paper to a bin thata€™s too wet, or fresh vegetable scraps, wet cardboard, or moistened coir to a bin thata€™s too dry.
To reduce odors, aerate the worm castings using a hand cultivating claw to lift and turn the contents. To reduce fungus gnat and fruit fly problems, add a layer of rehydrated coir to the surface.
Coir and ground oyster shell (or dried, ground eggshells) are two items you might want to have in your worm composting system fix-it kit. Crowded bins are more likely to become excessively acidic or go anaerobic, especially in hot weather.
Reduce the worm population by giving a pound of worms to someone whoa€™s starting a worm composting system. Even under ideal conditions, there are always a few a€?adventurousa€? worms that escape from the bin. If enough carbon is present in your worm composting system, bacteria overrun the food source before any eggs can hatch. Put the newspaper back in place and press the edges down into, but not through, the coir layer. Both can be solved by adding chopped spinach, lettuce, or cabbage leaves and succulent stalks. Your e-mail address is totally secure.I promise to use it only to send youThe GiO Newsline. Top NewsShaunae Miller dives to beat Allyson Felix in Olympics 400m final (CNN International)Felix, who won the 200-meter title in London four years ago, claimed her seventh Olympic medal in total with silver to become the most decorated female track and field athlete in history.
This fall my best friend and prepping buddy and I took our local Master Gardener composting class. Youtube is an amazing concept for those who want to pass on information, and those of us looking for new ideas.
So I typed "flow through worm bin" in the search box at youtube and came up with a new user, Sandy, and her channel is Worms And Stuff. This design has two stacking units, but you can add as many as you want, depending on how much waste your family produces. Also, I used pine, to keep costs down and I finished it with a clear, food safe protective coat. It is always recommended to apply a test coat on a hidden area or scrap piece to ensure color evenness and adhesion. My husband and I were just talking about building one of these last weekend.  Thank you so much!!! The worms will eat the dog poop and turn it into compost, but it can contain pathogens so definitely don't use it in your edible garden. If you use pine and get the cheap furring strips and already have the tools you have do it for under $50.
I keep a container beside the sind and chop up all my scraps into small peices after that the container goes into the freezer for 3 days. It be nice to drill a hole in the bottom to catch the worm tea,  this makes great fertilizer.
After you choose a worm bin with the right size and features, the first step is to put a layer of shredded paper, cardboard pieces, or coir in the main compartment. Become a fan of Composting on Facebook to give and get even more information about composting success. The purpose of this blog is to expose people to the surprising facts about this beneficial arthropod. If we want future generations to inherit a healthy planet then there is no alternative but to embrace sustainable technologies.
The climate in Uganda is favorable to BSF as long as you don’t live above 1500 meters of altitude. Hi, I’m just learning about black soldier flies (never heard of them before) because I continue to find the larvae crawling in my sun room.
If you have BSF larvae in your compost buckets they will crawl away when they mature (dark brown color) in search of a safe dry place to pupate. I am a little concerned as I don’t want these larvae inside the house as you can probably imagine. Yes and no; I understand that people worry about fly larvae, but there is no more risk from having a BSF larvae in your house than there would be if a butterfly flew in.
Now for the good part; You have BSF, you have buckets full of compost, you can easily enjoy utilizing your BSF in the most rapid and productive form of composting I know of. My name is : Roberto Diaz I like to say that is my desire to participate in the Black Soldier Fly Blog.
They do occasionally crawl out of the hop pile and crawl up between bags of top soil and fertilizer. Do you have any experience with, or have you heard anything about, red worms and BSF larvae co-existing well in the same bin? Also, I would like to feed some of the larvae to my chickens, but don’t want to completely decimate the BSF population- how many do i have to leave behind to ensure a continuing supply? I have just solved a huge mystery with your picture above… I was VERY concerned that my compost bin was WRITHING with creatures I had never seen before!
The BSF females don’t have to enter the container, they can simply lay their eggs on the outside of it and the larvae are so tiny when they hatch that they can easily find a way in.
I am amazed scientists are not looking at using more renewable energy like Ocean Current Turbines similar to CrowdEnergy.org. Moderation in feedinga€”if the worms arena€™t eating what you put in last week, cut back on their food this week. If you squeeze a handfula€”after picking out all the worms, of course!a€”only a drop or two of moisture should drip out. At bin temperatures above 80A° (27A° C), your worm composting system can go south in a hurrya€”see sidebar. Worms will move into a pocket of food in one corner of the bin, allowing you to harvest castings from the rest of the bin.
This makes it difficult for adult flies to lay eggs in the castings, and for newly-hatched flies to escape.
I spent quite a bit of time, (oh, and how quickly it goes), looking at numerous and I mean numerous videos. Sandy is in Alaska and has come up with a flow through bin that utilizes a standard 13 gallon tall kitchen waste bin. I built it before improving the plans so my my actual worm compost bin that I built is full of flaws, but I've worked on it in sketchup and I think it's good to go now. It should be odorless, if you notice an odor, you probably just need to give it a stir to let some air in on the action. Again you can attach them to each other first with pocket hole screws to make it tighter if you wish. Place the staples at about the midpoint on the (1x2) boards and fold up or trim off any excess mesh hanging off the edges. Just like dogs need a doghouse to protect them from the rain, worms need a snug home that has just the right conditions. Add worm food regularly, and remember to drain the compost tea before the holding cell gets full.
A good place to start is the fact that black soldier flies (BSF) are not disease carrying pests like house flies. According to the EPA over 12% of the garbage buried in landfill is wasted and spoiled food. We could feed all types of food waste to black soldier fly larvae and they would reduce it’s volume by up to 95%.
Meal made from dried BSF larvae is similar to fish meal in nutrients and has been successfully tested as feed for poultry, livestock and commercially raised fish.
Dumping a steady stream of waste into plastic bags and forwarding it to some unknown place to slowly rot doesn’t teach respect or responsibility. Thanks for visiting our blog, We hope you find this new technology as fascinating as we do. I live in Uganda (East Africa) and was unable to find concrete evidence (either through reading online or by attracting BSF) that they live in this area. BSF are native to North America, but they’ve traveled around the world with human assistance.


If I saw a BSF larvae in my house I would simply pick it up and place it outside so it could pupate and continue the important role that BSF fulfill in nature. With amazing speed the BSF will process meats (in limited quantities) dairy, fats and virtually anything that you eat. I have a batch that I finished with redworms, but I haven’t gotten around to using it. I am a biologist by profession several years ago I’ve been working with Hermetia illucens.
My vermicompost bin, which I have had for 3 years, has developed into a bin with more grubs than worms, and I was very worried these grubs were harmful, or would grow into a destructive bug. I am always dubious about using a species that is not indigenous to the area if it is to feed a local species. My greatest worry is sustainable energy, unless we end climate change the planet is going to be in dire trouble. Now, that is the perfect size for my space and in my opinion the concept is so much better than the other ones for indoor use.
Our family cabin was built mostly by him, beginning in the summer of 1961 and with projects still to do at the time of his death September 2012 at the age of 86. The worms should eventually move on up to the top when they run out of food in their level, leaving beautiful castings behind - perfect compost for your garden. You can make a square face with the (1x3) boards first using pocket holes and then screw or nail the face onto the unit, or you can just screw then pieces on one at a time.
They’re also widely available at bait shops and pet stores (check the live food section).
There is usually plenty of water in kitchen scraps to supply the worm’s needs, but if you live in a very dry or warm area, it may be necessary to occasionally add a little bit of water.
The compost that is the byproduct of their digestion makes a super medium for raising earthworms, which in turn produce an even higher quality compost. Black soldier fly technology turns a stream of waste into a stream of nutritious animal feed.
With the exception of bones and eggshells, all food scraps go into the BSFL colony, and even a fairly small colony can process a lot of food. Keeping a black soldier fly colony will give kids a great perspective of nature and the cycle of life.
Today I found a fly in my house that seems to match the photos I’ve seen posted here, so I took some pictures. I am a little concerned as I don’t want these larvae inside the house as you can probably imagine. Seeing the adult BSF in the room would not lead to there being larvae there unless the adults found food waste to lay their eggs on, and then it would take about a month of the larvae feeding on it to develop. Done properly there is almost no odor and if you have children they will learn an important lesson about our relationship with the natural world.
What I am wondering is, can we use the compost left by the BSF, or does it need any additional processing? I am using pine planar shavings mixed with food scraps and keep a handful on one corner dry for the ones ready to pupate to migrate to. Currently I am retired, for many years was professor of the Universidad Nacional de Colombia and now I have some tests and to comment on this dipteran. I am so happy to know now they are a benificial species and I will continue to propagate them. Dona€™t overfeed the first month after starting a new worm bin, especially if youa€™re starting the bin in the fall or winter. Not only did they explain the whole process, and all the advantages to us as gardeners, they demonstrated the Worm Factory. I'll be shopping for my bin and putting it together in the next week, as I've asked Santa for worms for Christmas. He possessed many self taught skills, a great sense of humor, and I am who I am because of him. When you empty the bottom unit into your garden, place it on top and start over, filling it as the bottom unit becomes saturated. It’s best not to use meats, oils or dairy products, because those scraps can attract flies and other pests. Red Wigglers are also called brown nosed worms, and their scientific name is Eisenia foetida. When the worm composter gets full, or when the worms eat all of the lining material, then it’s time to empty out the vermicomposter and start again. Using BSF larvae this way could mean the end of food waste slowly decomposing in landfills.
This is especially true if you live in an urban or suburban area where natural cycles aren’t always so obvious. Is there a place I could post them or email them to get an opinion from someone with BSF experience? If they are not present how do I obtain larvae and do I have a reasonable chance of keeping them alive and fuctioning? Tear up enough to fill half the tray, then soak with toilet paper and paper towel tubes in a bucket of water for 5 minutes. The lid keeps rain and birds away, and a well constructed worm bin allows liquid to drain from the main compartment into a holding cell. The amount of soil will depend on the size of the worm compost bin, but the ideal amount will produce a pile 3-6 inches deep.
Unlike other worms, they like to stay close to the surface and will be happy in a shallow vermicompost bin.
Combining BSF composting with vermicomposting (earthworms) results in the most efficient processing of putrescent organic waste available to us.
With all of the valid concerns about invasive species I’ve never come across any statements indicating that BSF have become a problem where they have been imported. I have yet to see an adult black soldier fly inside, and I only find the larvae in our sunroom, which was a recent addition to the back of our house. I am going to build a greenhouse for an aquaponic system and BSF seem like an ideal solution to help the feeding process and closing that loop of recycling all the waste products we produce. The Worm Factory looked amazing, but it was a bit pricey for my budget - okay significantly pricey for my budget, especially after purchasing the worms.
She sells bins and worms at her website, Worm Bin Composting, and she is also very free with her information.
This plant friendly liquid is called compost tea, and many worm bins have a spigot you can use to drain the compost tea for watering houseplants.
When you add scraps to the compost bin, it’s important to bury the worm food underneath this soil but above the lining. I tested this by adding a whole fish to my colony on a hot day and the odor was not even noticeable a few feet from the composting unit. She was grateful for the opportunity, even if she finished fifth in her 400-meter hurdles heat. One problem, the bin they showed us was pretty big at 18 gallons, and I couldn't think where on earth I would put it. I have a tumbling composter too and use it for my bunny poop, garden waste and like watermelon skin etc. I really appreciate all the effort you have put into this and your campaign for sane and ecologically sound recycling of waste.
It's winter, I'm thinking I want it indoors in my laundry room, and that bin is just too stinkin' big. I like the tumbling one too, it's very useful and it has the ability to catch some of the juices which seem to be very rich and helps my garden a lot.
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