Setting up your New Vermicompost system: A guide for new Worm Parents

Setting up your new vermicompost system is an exciting step towards a more sustainable lifestyle. It’s a unique blend of science, nature, and a bit of magic as you watch your kitchen scraps transform into a rich, nourishing soil amendment. But before you welcome your wriggly friends into their new home, there’s a bit of preparation to ensure they thrive from the get-go. Here’s all you need to know before your worms arrive. Creating the perfect environment for your vermicompost worms is simple with these tips.

Step 1: Choosing Your Bin

Rubbermaid Tote with holes drilled for drainage and air flow to be used as a vermicompost bin
Rubbermaid Tote with holes drilled for drainage and air flow to be used as a vermicompost bin

First things first, selecting the right bin is crucial. There are several ready-made options. If you are just starting out on your vermicomposting journey, a low cost way to try out worm husbandry is to use a plastic bin. Vermicomposting doesn’t require fancy equipment; a simple plastic bin works wonders. Drill some holes on the sides and top for aeration and a few at the bottom for drainage. I’ve got more details on how to set up a DIY bin in this post all about just that!

Step 2: Bedding Material – The Foundation of Your Bin

cardboard bedding options
cardboard bedding options

Your worms need a cozy, moist bed to call home. Shredded newspaper or cardboard makes excellent bedding. Avoid glossy paper as it may contain harmful chemicals. Moisten the bedding so it’s as wet as a wrung-out sponge. This moisture level is crucial for the worms’ survival, as they breathe through their skin. This is always the moisture content you’re reaching for. You’ll find more about some of the other bedding options in this post.

Step 3: The Right Spot for Your Bin

Thermometer
Thermometer

Location, location, location! Your worm bin should be placed in a cool, shaded spot, away from direct sunlight. An ideal temperature range is between 10°C to 30°C. Garages, basements, or under the kitchen sink are great spots, ensuring your worms stay comfortable throughout the year.

Vermicomposting in more variable outdoor conditions is possible, but gets tricky. For new worm parents, more consistent indoor temperatures are a better place to get the hang of it.

Step 4: Welcoming Your Worms

red wiggler worms in a hand
red wiggler worms in a hand

Red wiggler worms are the most forgiving worms. They are the best bet for new vermicomposters.

When your worms arrive, add them to your bedding. They might take a little while to settle into their new environment and start to eat. You don’t need to have food waste in your bin before your worms arrive. Initially, feed them sparingly. As they adjust, you can start adding more food scraps, covering them with bedding to prevent odors and pests.

Happy worms are hard to find! If your worms are happy, they’ll be evenly distributed through the additional bedding that you’ve put them in. It’s common for new worm stewards to wonder if their worms have escaped in the first few days. They likely haven’t. If your worms are huddled in a ball at the edge of their bin, they’re likely too dry. If worms are crawling up the sides of the bin, look to make changes. It’s likely too wet if there is not food in your vermiculture bin.

Step 5: Feeding Your Worms

Now, before your worms arrive, it’s good to know what they like to eat. Start with fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, and eggshells. More problematic options include: meats, dairy, oily foods, and citrus peels, as these can create odors. Chop up the scraps into smaller pieces to speed up the composting process.

Feed your worms what they are eating, not what you’d like them to be eating. Feed about once per week. If your worms are mostly making it through last week’s meal, then you’re on the right track. If they’re smelly and wet, add more bedding to balance your moisture content.

The most common challenges with vermicomposting is from over feeding. You pretty much can’t starve your worms. When in doubt, add more bedding and less food waste.

Starting Your Vermicomposting Journey with Worm Wrangler

At Worm Wrangler, we’re not just about providing you with top-notch compost worms; we’re here to support you every step of the way. Whether you’re attending our “How To Vermicompost Workshops” or seeking advice, we’re here to help you succeed in your vermicomposting endeavors. Remember, vermicomposting is not only about reducing waste but also about feeding the soil, growing the community, and living sustainably.

If you’re ready to start your vermicomposting adventure or need some friendly advice, visit us at Worm Wrangler. Together, we can make a positive impact on our planet, one bin at a time.

Happy vermicomposting!

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