I hate throwing away food or on a even more regular basis- coffee grounds. Every morning when I’m emptying yesterday’s grounds I would think “my what wonderful compost all this would make”. Well I’ve finally gone and done it – I’ve start a vermicompost bin system in my apartment! Its super easy and cheap to get started!
- 2 tubs (i’ve read rubber lasts pretty much forever but i’m just using the cheapest plastic ones i could find!)
- 4 blocks/containers/anything of equal size to prop under your bin to keep it off the ground
- Drill with 1/4 and 1/16bits
Take your two lovely bins and drill about 20 holes in the bottom of both bins using your 1/4in bit. These are for drainage and for your worms to crawl from one bin to the other.
Next you load up your 1/16th in bit and drill a bunch of holes about 1.5in apart around the top to work as ventilation. You will also drill similar holes in ONE of the tops.
Now – you’re pretty much done with the construction. SUPER EASY. Next you make the bedding. Rip your newspaper into 1in strips and drop them in a bucket of water. You want them to be wet but not soaking so wring them out and place them in the bottom of one of the buckets. You make the bedding about 3-4inches high when fluffed and then toss a bit of soil to help with the worms’ digestion.
Now let your worms loose in their new habitat! I got mine from freecycle. You can order them from several sources online but they regenerate so quickly that your fellow vermicomposters should be able to share enough to help you get started so ask around!
Next you cut a piece of cardboard the size of the tub to lay on top of them. Get it wet and then cover em up! To assemble you take your lid without the holes and lay it on the floor where you’d like to keep them, stack your blocks and put the tub with the bedding on top. Then you can place the other tub with the ventilated top on top of that – VOILA! VERMICOMPOSTER!
Now – the second tub isn’t actually necessary at this point so I put it away for now and just have one tub with the ventilated lid on it. Your second tub will come in handy a few months from now when your compost is ready. You’ll know this is the case when all of your bedding has been eaten. You will want to seperate your worms from it so you can use it. You’ll set up your second bin with bedding as you did before and set it in the firsst bin with the lip on top. From now on you’ll start placing your worm food into it instead and the worms will crawl up through the holes in the bottom to get to the food. After a month or so your bottom bin will be straight compost!
Worms love vegetable & fruit waste, coffee grounds & tea bags, paper waste, starches like bread, pasta and rice (in moderation), and crushed egg shells (also in moderation – its said they will help stimulate reproduction of worms!). Worms aren’t big fans of meat – they will help to break it down but it will be low going and your meat will STINK, best to avoid to altogether if you ask me. Definitely avoid adding any dairy products, greasy & oily foods, or pet waste.
Here’s a list of problems you may run into that you’ll have to troubleshoot from Chicago Recycling:
|Worms are dying.
||Not enough food
||Bury food in bedding
||Moisten until slightly damp
||Put bin in a 55-80 degree spot
|Bedding is eaten
||Harvest compost and add fresh bedding
|Bin smells unpleasant
||Not enough air circulation
||Drill more holes in bin
|Too much food
||Bury food and add less food
||Remove source of odor
|Flies in bin
||Cover food with bedding, secure lid, use a fly strip or fruit-juice trap
I’m so excited about composting in my apartment! So far the bin isn’t stinky at all and the worms seem to be happy enough hanging out with a bit of cornbread I tossed in there earlier this week. So far I’ve been nervous to put too much food in at once since I only have a small amount of worms so I’ve been saving my scraps in an old coffee tin. Hopefully some crushed eggshells will get em going and I’ll have enough to handle all my scraps before long!