Basic Vermicomposting

Why Vermicomposting?
Quickly, easily, and inexpensively produce nutrient-packed soil amendment for gardens and/or potted plants.
*  Increase the beneficial microorganisms and kill the pathogenic bacteria in the soil.
*  Recycle kitchen scraps and newspapers, reducing landfill waste.
*  Create a great classroom project!

How does it work?
*  Earthworms eat one half their body wight each day so 1lb. of eathworms (800-1000 worms) can eat one half pound of kitchen scraps/paper
    each day.
*  As the ingested material moves through the earthworm digestive tract, nutrients and beneficial microorganisms are added so the final
    product (worm poop or "castings" is much better for plants than ordinary soil.

What materials do I need to set up a vermicomposting bin?
*  One 20-30 gallon plastic containers (not clear) with lids, 10"-122" deep.
*  Drill with one quarter bit.
*  Bedding: Shredded newpaper (not slick pages), crushed leaves, gaden soil (a couple of hand fulls), water.
   (Note:The worms will eat the bedding as well as food you add.)
*  Earthworms-need to be "red wrigglers" (Available at bait stores or can be ordered)
*  Adequate location: Fairly dark and quiet, 40-80 degrees F (indoors in Louisiana), away from strong vibrations.

Building the bin:
*  Drill about 20 evenly spaced holes in the bottom of the container for drainage.
*  Drill holes in the lid of the container for air.
*  Put bedding and garden soil in the container up to about 10" and moisten thoroughly with water.
   (Do this outside and let the excess water drain out the bottom before adding the worms.)
*  Add worms and cover with lid.
*  If the bin is to be kept inside, you will need a second container to catch any drainage from the bin.
*  Place bricks in second container.  Place bin with worms and bedding on top of the bricks.
*  Do not feed or disturb worms for 2-3 days so they can get established.

How and what do I feed them?
*  Feed your worms by digging a shallow hole, putting in scraps, and covering with bedding.
*  Fruit and vegetable scraps (stay away from citrus and onions).
*  Coffee grounds with filter.
*  Tea bags (remove the staple)
*  Crushed egg shells (cooked only)
*  Do not feed meat, dairy products, or oily foods.

When and how do I harvest the vemicompost?
*  Depending on how many worms you have, it will take 3-5 months to complete the compost.  When you look  in the bin, there will be no
    recognizable pieces of newspaper or other bedding.
*  Move bedding with worms to one end of the bin.  Add fresh bedding to the other end and feed worms in fresh bedding.  After a couple of
    weeks most of the worms will have moved to the fresh bedding in search of food.  Remove the used bedding (vermicompost) and add to
    your potted plants or garden.

Watch your plants grow!