Making a Wormery

What is vermicompost?

A process of using worms to accelerate the decomposition of kitchen scraps into a nutrient rich soil. Red wrigglers are commonly used to inoculate your worm bin, it's suggested to start with approximately 1lb.

Benefits:

-Compost your food waste rapidly
-Compost indoors during cold winter months
-Free fertilized soil
-Liquid fertilizer by-product
-Supply of fishing worms
-Requires minimal attention once established
-It's odourless

Basic supplies:

-A container
-Bedding (non-glossy newspaper, cardboard) 
-Water
-Worms
-Non fatty food scraps

There are some wonderful ready-to purchase systems available, however they can be quite costly. If you're interested in starting a system, but you're on a budget I would suggest making your own system out of plastic containers.

I made my first worm bin from an old sink basin I found on the side of a street. Making a wormery does not need to be complicated. Feel free to copy my design or modify it to the materials you have access to.

-1 old sink basin
-A drill and a 1/8 inch drill bit (if it is smaller then there may be inadequate air supply and if it is larger the worms may migrate into the reservoir/escape)
-1 metal sink sieve that fits inside drainage pipe
-Cardboard and newspaper
-Spray bottle for damping bedding material
-Supports for upper bin (i.e. blocks, wooden frame etc.)
-Lid (i.e. a sheet of wood to cover)
-2 litre recycled water jug
-Worms (search online for your local warm supplier)

Method

1. Drill 10 to 20 (1/8 inch) aeration holes in the lid
2. Drill 10 to 20 (1/8 inch) aeration holes in the side container  (7 each side and 3 at each end)
3. Insert metal sieve in base of sink basin
4. Position on supporting frame
5. Start filling the container with damp shredded bedding material. This will speed up the decomposition process since shredding creates more surface area for microbes to work on.
6. Add a thick layer of food scraps (see below for a list of recommended choices). Note of caution: use vegetables that will decompose quickly and not putrefy.
7. Add another thick layer of bedding.
8. Add a shovel of garden soil  to kick start the beneficial microbial community.
9. Add another thick layer of bedding.
10. Place the 2 litre jug beneath the container to catch any excess liquid fertilizer.
11. Cover with the lid and let it sit for 1-2 weeks before adding your worms. Alternatively you can add worms straight away but add less food initially and feed weekly as it's consumed. Remember to always burry food towards the bottom on the container.

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What kind of food scraps should I use?

Use often: 
Fruits, vegetables, egg shells (increases calcium), coffee grounds and tea bags. I recommend freezing all scraps before putting them in your bin. This will kill any eggs that flies have potentially laid that will hatch later in your bin. Green scraps will increase nitrogen but decompose quickly and increase the temperature of the bin. Constantly replenish brown material or bedding but do not use bleached or glossy paper. Cardboard, newspaper, wood chips and leaves are fine.

In moderation:
Citrus peel, onions, hot peppers and starchy foods.

Avoid:
Meat, dairy, cheese, yogourt or anything excessively greasy since it's hard to break down and will putrefy.

Remember, a balanced diet is always best!

A word of caution 
-Temperatures extremes are deadly and a range between 10-25 degrees Celsius is ideal.
-Do not expose the system to direct sunlight or prolonged exposure to the sun. I leave mine inside the garage and as the temperature drops nearing winter I bring the system indoors.

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