Saturday, March 27, 2010

What about large families, vegans, vegetarians, and juicers?

For intensive vermicompost users (e.g., large families, vegans, vegetarians, and juicers), you may need to implement my modified indoor vermicomposting instructions to accommodate your lifestyle. This is good news—you will make more compost than the typical user; however, you may have to spend more money initially.

You will probably need 2 or 3 bins and 4-6 pounds of worms to handle the volume of food waste you make. To find out how many pounds of worms you will need, weigh your food waste for a week. Double that number and that is how many pounds you will need. You can start with fewer worms if you have access to an outdoor compost pile (or don’t mind throwing away excess) while your worms multiply. The best method is to split your worms 1-2 pounds per bin, and rotate your additions among the bins so the bins rest at least 3 days between additions. You will likely have to add a lot of newspaper (or other bedding) with each addition. This is especially true for juicers—for whom I would suggest considering a wooden bin or a bin that does allow for drainage.

All of my other recommendations apply: start slowly, feed on the bottom, and monitor your bins for problems. You will soon be harvesting vermicompost and reaping the rewards of your efforts.



Saturday, March 20, 2010

Can I go on vacation with a worm bin?

Absolutely. You don't even have to take them to a kennel!

If you've got a fairly mature bin (5-6# of worms and compost), you can leave your worms for 4-5 weeks if you feed them a lot (be sure to bury it deep) and be sure to include food that breaks down slowly (carrots, potatoes, onions, rutabaga, or fibrous things like broccoli stalks). Your worms will be fine, and you may be ready to harvest some vermicompost when you return.

If you are going to be gone for a longer period, you may lose some worms due to lack of food. You can of course have someone feed them while you are away. If someone is coming by to check on your home, they can add some food scraps (be sure they know what to add and how!). Who knows, you make introduce a friend to vermicomposting!



Saturday, March 13, 2010

Starting with one pound or two?

People often ask whether they should start with one pound or two.

I sell both and I think this is a matter of personality more than anything else.

If you are patient, start with one pound. If you are not and can afford it, then start with two.

I generally recommend starting with one pound. Your up front costs are less (in the rare event that things go awry) and you get to know your worms as you build their population.

Twice as many worms simply means that you can put in twice as much food.

Both bins will eventually end up in the same place. The one pound will eventually catch up, because there is only so much space in a worm bin and you only have so much food to add.



Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Correcting wet worm bins

Every so often, someone will contact me for advice about fixing a worm bin that is too wet. This can occur in plastic worm bins with or without drainage. For the most part, my recommendations of monitoring your bin when adding food and keeping a fresh layer of dry newspaper on top will prevent this from ever happening.

These vermicomposters typically think they have to throw out the smelly, wet mass and start again. You could go that route, but as long as you have worms (assuming you haven't drowned all of them) you can fix this by drying out your bin by adding a lot of fresh newspaper and digging it all the way to the bottom of the bin. While you are in there, gently mix the contents of the bin thoroughly (this won't harm the worms). Then cover the damp mix with more freshly shredded dry newspaper. Don't feed them and watch to see if you need to add more newspaper (you want the bottom of the bin to be as wet as a wrung out sponge).

After week or so, you will notice that the smell is gone and the volume will decrease a bit. At that time, you can resume feeding as described in my blog--

Vermicomposting is trial and error, and I hope you will benefit from my experiences rather than repeat my errors.