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How to Start Vermicomposting – A Beginners Guide

Posted by VerticalVic on July 19, 2019  /   Posted in Composting Worms

Getting started in vermicomposting or worm composting is really easy. You might already have everything or almost everything you need, except maybe the worms. So, if you wish to know about how to start vermicomposting, read on.

How to start vermicomposting?

It’s best to have everything ready including the bedding before you order or get your worms. This gives the bedding time to become populated with microbes, something that makes composting worms happy.

First you’re going to need some type of container or “bin” for their new home.

This could be:

  • Plastic food container
  • Small storage bin
  • Large storage bin
  • A kids pool

When you need to know about how to start vermicomposting, the size of your worm bin will depend on how many worms you’re going to start with, or how many you want to end up with. (More on this later). Many agree 1 pound of worms per square foot is a good starting point. How many in a pound? Roughly 1000 Reds or 800 Euros.

So if you start with 1 pound see if you can find a container with a surface area of 1 square foot. If you don’t have one big enough, you can use more than one and just split them up. If you have one bigger, that’s fine too. Lids, the next great debate.

Some like them, some don’t. It’s up to you if want to use a lid, I recommend using one. It’s not so much about keeping things IN as it is keeping things OUT like pests. Make sure the lid has plenty of ventilation. I cut holes and put insect screen over them.

Next you’ll need some bedding, this could be:

  • Shredded cardboard – Free
  • Shredded newspaper – Free
  • Peat Moss – Purchased
  • Coco coir – Purchased
  • Dried leaves
  • Finished compost – Free or purchased
  • Dark molasses – 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon per gallon of bedding (for microbe growth)
  • A combination of those listed
  • Inoculant – Finished compost, dry leaves, anything that already has microbial activity
  • A container to mix the bedding, or the same container you’ll use as the worm bin

Peat moss and coco coir I like to use as a base, you can use one or both. This doesn’t compile everything about how to start vermicomposting. To know more, read on.

Important note,  peat moss is acidic and a pH buffer must be used. Ground egg shell, oyster shell or dolomite lime mixed in the peat moss, about 1 teaspoon per gallon of peat moss, the day before you add worms.

The amount you make will all depend on the size of your worm bin and if you’re mixing different types of bedding, if your only using peat and or coir fill about half way. If mixing different types of bedding try and aim for about 1/3 of your container if you make too much, no big deal just save it for later.

Both peat and coir take a little time to soak up water so mix well.

Start by adding dry coir (coir will swell about 4 times its dry size when wet, keep that in mind) and or peat to the container, add the molasses, inoculant, then water to moisten. After mixing when you squeeze the bedding you should only see a few drops of liquid from your hand, if it’s too wet just add a little more peat/coir until it’s where you want it.

Next add in your dry bedding, shredded cardboard/paper/leaves and mix. This will also absorb some of the moisture, just add water as you go. Add dry bedding until your bin is about 1/2 to 3/4 full making sure the bedding is not compressed, you want it aerated. If you don’t already have your composting worms, good, you want to make this about a week or two before adding worms to get the microbe population growing. If you do already have your worms no big deal it will just take them a little longer to settle in and get active.

When you have your worms, if using more than one container, split them up between bins making sure to add some of the bedding they came in, or dump them in the single bin. Put them under a bright light to force them down into their new home and cover (if using one). This concludes everything to know about how to start vermicomposting.

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