Craig and Milissa Little - Vermicomposting Basics


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Talk given by Craig an at the 9th Annual Small Farm Family Conference in Danville, Virginia

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Craig and Milissa Little - Vermicomposting Basics

  1. 1. 26242 Sunset Drive, Windsor, VA 23487 Phone: (757) 705-8939 VERMICOMPOSTING BASICSGetting StartedWhen beginning a vermicomposting bin, start by adding moist bedding into the bin—things like shreddedpaper, animal bedding and other materials high in carbon. Bedding is the living medium for the worms butalso a food source, so it should be moist (like a wrung-out sponge) and loose to enable the worms to breatheand to facilitate aerobic decomposition. Avoid using glossy paper from newspapers, magazines and junk mailbecause they contain toxins. Divide the bin into several imaginary quadrants. You will bury successive loads offood scraps in each section. Start at one corner of the bin and work your way across. Simply lift one section ofbedding to add food scraps, cover with a few inches of bedding. Add worms. Theoretically, when you finishadding food to all quadrants, the food added first should be consumed and the process starts over again.Shine a light on the worms for the first 24-48hrs. Let the composting begin!In warm climates, especially in summer, keep bin in the shade or away from constant sunlight – just like acompost pile, it should stay moist. Add a little water every now and then as needed. Worms enjoytemperatures between 55-80 degrees, with 70 degrees the ideal temperature for composting andreproduction. Worms can handle more extreme temperatures but will slow down activity.Feeding Tips:Don’t dump and run….take time to bury food under bedding to avoid fruit fly invasion and stink.Good For Worms: fruit and vegetables including scraps & peels, coffee grounds with filters, tea bags (removestaple), leftovers – raw or cooked. Limited amounts of citrus, onions and strong scented herbs are OK.DO NOT FEED: salt, meat, dairy, greasy or oily foods. Troubleshooting odor and pests in vermiculture is similarto the procedures used in composting; if the bin starts to stink, it’s probably because there is too muchnitrogen; which comes from “greens” or food wastes, so add some high-carbon “browns;” dead leaves, hay,shredded paper, cardboard; remember to soak first.Drainage: You may need to drill a few holes in the bottom of your bin if more drainage is needed. Also,remember air flow is important, be sure to have air holes or vents in top and sides of bin.How to Make Compost Available through AcresUSA.comHarnessing the Earthworm by Thomas J. BarrettRecycle with Earthworms by Shelley C. Grossman & Toby WeitzelThe Worm Book by Loren Nancarrow & Janet Hogan TaylorWorms Eat My Garbage by Mary Appelhof