Adventures In Vermicomposting – How to Vermicompost

by heather

can-o-wormsWell, I finally did it! After all this time, I finally got my vermicompost system up and running. My goal was to start vermicomposting last summer. June in fact. Well, 7 months down the road is better late than never!

The reason I didn’t start vermicomposting earlier is because a) we were travelling a lot and b) our house was (and still is) on the market. I thought potential buyers wouldn’t want to see a vermicompost bin in the kitchen, so I held off.

Well, my house hasn’t sold yet (it almost did, twice!) and I just didn’t want to wait any longer. Vermicomposting my kitchen scraps (in addition to recycling) means I will have almost zero garbage going out each week, which is really cool!

My Vermicompost System…

My Can 'O Worms Composting System

My Can 'O Worms Composting System

I decided to go ahead and get the Can-O-Worms system from Amazon. I chose this system for several reasons:

  • It got great reviews from people on Amazon.
  • I liked the idea of multiple tiers, which means I wouldn’t have to harvest compost as often as a one-tiered system.
  • I liked that it had a spigot at the bottom for draining “worm tea” for my plants.
  • The Can-O-Worms system is made from 100% recycled plastic.
  • It was more attractive than a plastic bin I would have made myself. Usually I don’t give a flip about that, but I’m still trying to sell my house. And, this is going to be in the kitchen. So I wanted it to look neat and nice.
  • I wanted to review it for the blog.

The compost bin came a few days ago, and it was super easy to set up. And, my worms finally arrived today! I took plenty of pictures to show you how easy it was to get them set up.

1,000 Worms and Counting…

You’d think the arrival of 1,000 worms wouldn’t be so exciting. But, I’ve had my face pressed to the front window for days, watching out for the mailman. I couldn’t wait! I felt like I was getting a ton of new pets.

The worms were really cold and sluggish when they arrived. If you order some for yourself, and you live in a cold climate, it’s definitely worth it to try and be home when they’re delivered. I felt really bad for them.

My new family of worms...

My new family of worms...

The Can-O-Worms system came with a block of dehydrated bedding called coir. I had to soak it in a bucket for 15 minutes to rehydrate it.

038

By the time it was done rehydrating, it looked like this…

Worm Bedding!

Worm Bedding!

The bedding is made from coconut fiber, and it just had a nice earthy smell. After I got the bedding laid out in the bottom tray, it was time to dump the worms in. As you can see, my dog Pep is really interested in what I’m doing!

045

Once I filled up the first tray with bedding and worms, it was time to put on the second tray. The instructions said not to put on the second tray unless the first tray was full enough to touch the bottom of the second. Mine is not touching at all spots, but it is in the middle. I guess that’s good enough?

Your first round of food goes in this second tray (if I’m understanding the instructions right).

Food for the worms

Food for the worms

And then you’ve got to cover everything with wet newspaper.

047

TheΒ Can-O-Worms system does have a lid that goes on top, with tiny holes for aeration.

Questions…

Well, I know this is still my first day, and I’ve already been researching vermicomposting online for some time, but I still have a few questions. If any of you vermicompost, or know the answers, I would so appreciate you letting me know!

  • Do I have to keep putting water into the compost bin? If so, how much?
  • I know it takes time to for the worms to get settled in, but can I feed them food everyday right now, or do I need to wait until they’ve eaten what I gave them?
  • I read you can feed worms coffee grounds. But, I drink coffee every single day. Are these too many grounds?

I’ll be doing a full review of this system in a few months, after I’ve had a chance to use it and see how it’s working. And, I’ll keep updating the blog on how my vermicompost system is doing!

{ 8 trackbacks }

Fresh From Twitter: Adventures In Vermicomposting… … /  Worm Farming Books
February 12, 2010 at 7:56 pm
uberVU - social comments
February 12, 2010 at 8:45 pm
Vermicompost Bin Update #1 | The Greenest Dollar
February 25, 2010 at 3:17 pm
Friday Green Links – 2/26 « Pragmatic Environmentalism
February 26, 2010 at 9:14 pm
What To Do With Imperfect Produce | The Greenest Dollar
April 5, 2010 at 3:09 pm
Vermicompost Bin Update #1 /  Eco Update
May 20, 2010 at 5:09 pm
Should I Open Up a Can of Worms? « What's on Jen's Plate?
April 4, 2011 at 1:52 pm
Should I Open Up a Can of Worms? | Whats on Jen's Plate?
April 7, 2011 at 12:28 pm

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Allison February 12, 2010 at 3:40 pm

I made my own vermicompost bin so I’m not sure if the answers depend on the type of bin. In any case, I didn’t find it necessary to add water after the first couple of weeks. I get a lot of compost tea draining out as it is and it seems like the food scraps provide adequate moisture. When I started, I tried to not feed the worms every day. I didn’t wait until they had completely eaten everything before adding more scraps, but waited until I could see some progress. Now (8 months on), I usually save up scraps for 2-3 days and then feed them though there have been times when I feed them every day and they seem to be doing fine. I’m not a regular coffee-drinker so I don’t know whether it’s okay to add grounds every day. I would suspect it’s fine, however.

heather February 12, 2010 at 3:52 pm

Allison, thanks so much! So, did you add water regularly when you first got your bin set up? If so, did you add it daily, or every few days? And, is there a “bedding consistency” I should aim for when adding water?

Molly February 12, 2010 at 4:40 pm

Question for you, Heather: Is there any kind of smell that comes from the compost? My husband and I currently live in a tiny apartment and I’d love to start but am afraid any sort of ‘wormy’ smell would take over the apartment.

P.S. I really enjoy your blog! Thanks so much!

heather February 12, 2010 at 4:46 pm

Molly, Well, this is my first day so I’m really not sure. From what I’ve read in books and online, you only get a “smell” if you’ve put too much food in there and the worms are “behind”. My friend Alex said that getting a vermicompost bin up and running (before the worms have had a chance to catch up on the food I just put in) might cause a smell. So, we’ll see! Again, from what I’ve read there is normally not any kind of smell with vermicomposting. I think you might get a clean, earthy smell when you take the compost out of the tray, but that’s it.

Thanks so much for reading! πŸ™‚

Mrs. Money February 12, 2010 at 6:05 pm

How cool! We have a compost bin outside we throw everything in. It’s funny- when I’m digging in the garden and find a worm, he goes into the compost bin. My hubby thinks I am nuts. Love the setup!

shona~LALA dex press February 13, 2010 at 9:29 am

I also made my own bin + would check to every couple days for moisture. I don’t know how much venetellation yours has, but I found that my homemade bin (a 2 gal plastic storage bin with 4 mesh covered vent tubes) would accumulate moisture + I did not have to add much. When they did need a little moisture I used a spritz bottle. As for the coffee, there is a level of acidity which will kill the worms + I’m not really into getting some sort of home testing kit. My suggestion would be to go slow on the coffee + when you do add some, monitor it. Mine are not that keen on coffee so it goes in the regular compost.

Barbara February 13, 2010 at 9:56 am

I am glad you shared your composting system with us. I have been interested in an indoor vermicomposting system for some time. Right now I am using a storage tote with drainage holes out back. I know there are a few worms in there that naturally found their way in through the holes on the bottom. I really need this worm system! I am going to research this particular one on amazon and save the funds to purchase it. My only concern is if I have it inside, my cats may mess with it.

Allison February 13, 2010 at 10:46 am

When I started, I used dampened shredded newspaper for my bedding. For a couple of weeks, I added some additional damp shredded paper and once or twice, I sprinkled a little bit of water over everything. From what I can tell, a damp, not soaking wet, environment is best.

You’re absolutely right about there not being a smell unless you’re putting in too much food. I keep my bin on a covered balcony and activity has definitely slowed down since it’s been cold (I live in Virginia) and there’s a bit of a smell as it’s taking longer for the worms to eat the scraps. I’ve been out of a town a lot lately and am hoping this is giving my worms time to catch up.

heidi February 13, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Heather, this is amazing and wonderful and I can’t wait to hear about the progress! Does this mean that we’ll get a “worm-a-day” update with upcoming posts, too? I’m so, so, so tempted but since we’re currently living with in-laws, eh, you can see where this is going. I’m just happy they let me bring my aloe plant inside for the winter =X

tommy February 13, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Coolness!
And…. the best thing is with it on the counter, the kids can drink their tea right out of the spigot like they do the water jug!

heather February 14, 2010 at 11:33 am

Hi Everyone,

Thanks so, so much for writing in! The tips on the moisture content are really helpful. So far, that seems to be the area I’m over-analyzing. πŸ™‚

Shona, Thanks so much for that tip about the coffee! I’ll definitely go slow on giving them more. Just one pot a week, perhaps, for the grounds. And the spritz bottle is a great idea. I checked the bedding today and it seemed a bit dry, so I spritzed it down. But, do I need to be turning the bedding so it’s wet all the way through?

Barbara, so far this system has not smelled a bit, and it’s very sturdy (it has 5 legs) so I can’t imagine your cats being able to knock it over or anything. I’ve got two rambunctious dogs and they haven’t gone near it. To them, it’s just another piece of furniture!

Heidi, I might do weekly updates! I surely don’t won’t to bore people with my worm story, but I can’t believe how excited I am about my new family. My husband and I have named them The Snickersons, and are planning to paint the compost bin on the outside this week so it looks colorful and friendly. πŸ™‚ It’s so cool to peek in there, and I’m having to resist the urge almost hourly! πŸ™‚

ParisGirl111 February 15, 2010 at 11:24 am

I am confused. Does all your trash go in here or just food that you are throwing out? My friend has one of these in her kitchen, but she used a rubbermaid container. It seems to be working well for her.

heather February 15, 2010 at 3:45 pm

@ParisGirl111- The Can-o-Worms system is only for food waste. I know you can make a Rubbermaid system fairly easily, and they do work well. I like this one because you don’t have to dump out the entire contents of the bin to get the compost out. The worms naturally work their way up through the trays as they develop compost. So by the time they’re up to level 4, you can take out the level 2 tray and dump out the compost. You don’t have to worry about picking the worms out, because they’ve already moved on. It makes it really easy!

RenaissanceRonin February 17, 2010 at 1:40 am

I hear if you buy “goat worms”, you can throw in aluminum cans… I used to raise sheepshead fish, but we never got any wool. And my dogfish never learned to bark. So, who knows? Okay, okay… I’ll stop…

Since we’re all ‘gung freakin ho’ about gardening right about now, what kind of veggie scraps go in there? I mean, can you throw in melon rinds, and corn husks, and stuff like that? Or do you have to get those piranha worms from Brazil with the big choppers to deal with fibrous kinda stuff?… ?

And after you’ve fed them like “tended kids” for months and months… how many of them do you have to fry, to make a decent sandwich?

“The Snickerson’s”…. indeed… πŸ˜‰

Ronin

Surviving and thriving on pennies February 17, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Exactly where did you buy this vermicomposting? I cant find it anywhere! Could you post a link?

heather February 17, 2010 at 7:37 pm

@Surviving- I got my Can-o-Worms system is on Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000H2T75A?ie=UTF8&tag=thegredol-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B000H2T75A

With the free shipping, they had the best price. Good luck!

Chantal February 23, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Hi Heather-
We’re kindred spirits, I got my worms about the same time as you. They were also very sluggish and kind of seem to still be so. I live in St. Louis and it was freezing when I got them. I’m wondering how long it takes for them to recover? They don’t seem very happy yet…

heather February 23, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Hi Chantal,

Mine only took a couple of days to recover. Is your bed moist enough? What kind of vermicompost bin are you using?

I’ll be posting an update this week with pictures. I’ve only fed them once since I got them; they’re only just now starting to crawl into my second tray (where I put the food). It’s pretty moldy and gross in that tray now (they like that!) so I think I’m going to add a bit more food tonight.

I did find a great forum on vermicomposting: http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/verm/

There’s a lot of good information there. Maybe asking a seasoned veteran would help? Or perhaps some of the readers here might know, if you could provide a bit more information about your bin/moisture/food situation.

Thanks for writing in!

Andrew @ 101 Centavos February 12, 2011 at 7:15 am

Very nice. I think you’ve convineced to go ahead and get a commercial composter. I started a bin last June, and now have two —- the little guys are having a population explosion. I’m curious to see how a multi-tier composter compares in performance to the bins.
To answer one of your questions, I don’t add any water. The veg scraps and wet coffee grounds seem to have enough moisture. In fact, sometimes I have to “air” the bins out, as they get too wet and some kind of slimy mold growth forms on the inside wall.
Are you having any gnat problems?

Jen @ What's on Jen's Plate? April 4, 2011 at 12:31 pm

This is so neat! I really want to start composting but I have such limited space since I live in an apartment. I have two questions: 1) How much space does this take up 2) Does it make your room smell? I really am thinking about trying this out! I would love more of your input! Thanks for the post!

Roch April 16, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Is there a link between the moisture and the appearance of mites in the bing? My bing is quite moist and there’s white a bit of those bugs in there?

Esmail asemi September 3, 2013 at 2:07 am

Hi woud you please send me information about produce vemi kompost.

Esmail asemi September 3, 2013 at 2:10 am

would you please give me information about produce of vermikompost

Leave a Comment