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According to www.ehow.com: “Vermiculture, or worm farming, is a simple way  of turning table scraps into compost while producing fish bait Vermiculture  operations can range from a small bin maintained by apartment dwellers to  large-scale worm farms. Worm castings, or the products of worm’s digestion, are  so highly prized as a soil amendment and fertilizer that some worm farms are run  primarily for the castings and not for the worms themselves. This process is  called vermicomposting.”

I have looked through dozens of websites and read  material in several books and it all seems pretty much the same from one source  to the next. Hopefully I have succeeded in explaining it as easily as possible  to help you get your worm composting project started on the right  track.

Benefits of Worm  Composting:

     1.Organic kitchen waste  like vegetable peels, bread, coffee grounds & filters, egg shells, etc. can  be turned into some of the best organic fertilizer basically free of  charge.

     2.Produce much healthier  plants without using expensive chemical fertilizers.

     3.Worm composting helps  eliminate a good deal of garbage disposal. Not only do the worms eat kitchen  scraps, they also like to eat newspaper, paper towels, cardboard, and even that  pesky junk mail that piles up around the house.

     4.This project can  potentially lead you to a money-making opportunity by selling both the worms  (they are great reproducers), and the castings(worm  poo).

     5.Adding the castings to  your garden soil or potted plants will increase moisture and nutrient content,  improve aeration and root penetration. It will also decrease damages done to the  soils structure.

     6.Vermicomposting also  restores beneficial microbes to the soil which can increase plants disease  resistance.

     7.Worm composting is a  much faster process and takes a fraction of the time it would normally take to  compost without the worms.

     8.You will have your own  supply of fishing bait.

The list can go on but I will  stop there for now. As you can see, worm composting if beneficial in many ways.  Next I will explain the process of starting your very own worm compost bin.

Preparing The  Bin:

STEP 1:First you need to obtain a container to house your worm bed. This can  simply be an inexpensive rubber or plastic container that you can pick up from  any department or hardware store. You may even be able to recycle one you  already have laying around the house. Make sure you do not use a clear container  because worms prefer the dark.

STEP 2:Next, you want to prepare your bedding materials. The easiest way to  provide the worms bedding material is to use shredded newspaper. Soakthe shredded paper in water and squeeze out  the excess water. Next fluff up the paper and place it in the bin. Ideally you  want to have roughly at least six inches of bedding  material.

STEP 3: Add some food for the worms  (see the list below of the types of food to add). Burry the food under the  bedding because the worms prefer being buried rather than come to the surface.  This will also cut down on the odor as the food starts to decompose. Allow the  food a couple days to start breaking down before moving on to the next  step.

STEP 4: Add your worms. Worms can be  purchased online for worm supply outlets. You can also buy smaller quantities at  your local bait shop. Worms are prolific reproducers so it want take much time  at all and you will have lots of worms. More worms means more compost bins, or  more worms to sale or give-a-way to your gardening friends or blog readers. You  can grow your worm composting project as big as you like from your first  bin.

Feeding Your  Worms:

   Now that you have your bin set up, and  your worms are in their new home, let’s talk about what to feed them. Below are  lists of the things you CAN feed your worms and  also things you SHOULD  NOT feed your worms.

CAN:

·Fruits: apple,  strawberry, banana peels, pears, peaches, and any type of melon.

·Vegetables:  cabbage, carrots, corncobs, any and all greens, beans, celery,  cucumbers

·Cereals &  Grains: Pasta, oatmeal, rice, non-sugared cereal, pancakes, corn  meal

·Leaves/Yard  Waste

·Cardboard

·Tea  bags

·Egg  shells

·Dead  Flowers

·Coffee grounds & filters

·Newspaper

·Pizza  Crust

·Pumpkins

·Manure can be used  in small quantities because it heats up during the decomposing process. You  don’t want your bin to get too warm or it will dry out and kill your  worms.

SHOULD NOT:

·Avoid citrus type  fruits like orange, lemon, lime, etc. because they can be toxic to  worms.

·Avoid acidic  vegetables like tomatoes.

·Avoid shiny type  papers or coated papers.

·Meat, fish,  poultry, dairy

·Worms hate junk  foodlike potato chips, candy, or any  type of oils.

·Definitely no  non-biodegradable items like plastic, rubber, aluminum,  etc.

The  best thing to do when trying to figure out what your worms like to eat is place  a small amount of the item in the bin. If after a week the food is still there  and the worms have seemed to move away from it remove it from the bin.

 

Harvest Your  Castings:

Once your bin full of bedding has turned into the brown worm castings  that looks like dirt you are ready to harvest. The easiest way to harvest is to  place food at one end of the bin for a week or so and give the worms time to  move to that end. Remove the castings and replace the bedding. It’s that simple.

At this point, when castings are removed, If you have built up a large  population of worms, you can divide them into two bins. If you don’t want to  start a second bin you can sale or give away the extra worms. You don’t want  your bin to become over crowded.

VERY VERY  IMPORTANT:

One thing you must keep in mind is to keep the material in your bedding  moist. This can be done using a spray bottle and lightly mist on a regular  basis.

If you let your worms dry out, THEY WILL  DIE!!

If you get your worms too wet, THEY WILL  DIE!!

I hope this helps you get your worm composting  project started. If you have any hints, tips, or tricks you would like to share  with us please let us know by leaving a comment!!

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Tags: Homesteading, compost, composting, farming, gardening, worm, worms

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