I am officially a worm farmer. I will admit, I don’t really know what I’m doing. I wanted a way to naturally feed my plants, and I heard that “worm poop is gold”. So I took the plunge and bought a worm factory with – admittedly – zero experience and very little research under my belt. Thankfully my worm factory came with some useful reading material and step-by-step directions on how to start up and maintain the vermicomposting bin. And I was very happy to find that there was nearly no assembly involved. All I had to do was: screw the holding tray to the base, screw the spigot into the holding tray, and set the collection tray (and feeding trays) on top.
Holding tray, collection tray, feeding tray – what is all this? Yeah, I didn’t know what any of that was either until I read the manual that came with the worm factory. The feeding trays are perforated trays that stack on top of one another. You put the worm food and bedding in the trays. (More to come on what exactly that material is.) The idea is the worms will feed on the bottom-most tray and once the food in that tray is consumed they will work their way up to the next tray. Then you can remove that bottom-most tray and use it as compost in your garden. That now-empty tray gets stacked on top and more food and bedding is added and the cycle continues.
On top of that you get a lot of liquid runoff from the whole process, called leachate. This liquid drips down into the collection tray and there is a spigot to dispense it as needed. I intend to use the solid compost in my vegetable garden. However the leachate can contain toxins so I plan to only use it diluted on non-edible plants.
So that’s the quick and dirty on vermicomposting. Now onto my progress on the whole affair.
Last Sunday I started my first feeding tray. My worm factory came with just about everything I needed to start it up. In addition to the bin/trays themselves it came with a bag of shredded newspaper, a bag of pumice (small rocks for drainage) and a brick of coir. Coir is ground coconut fiber that is a desirable bedding for the worms since it retains moisture. To use the coir, per the directions, I put one side of the block in a bowl with 1 cup of water. Right away half of the block of coir expanded and could be easily pulled away. It was almost like moist straw cuttings after that. I put it in a bucket and mixed in half the pumice and half the shredded newspaper. I then lined my first feeding tray with a few sheets of dry newspaper and spread the coir mixture on top.
On top of that I put about 3 cups of food, set aside in the corner of the tray. And finally I put 5-10 pages of damp newspaper on top of it all to create a moist cover.
I will be sure to keep you updated on what kind of food I add to my vermicomposting bin as I learn what works well. For this first tray I added some coffee grounds, a coffee filter, grass clippings, and some leaves and other clippings from around the yard.
My worm factory is currently stationed on the side of my house. It’s shaded, never gets direct sun, and is partially protected from the weather. Below is my worm factory as of last weekend. The black plastic cover that came with the worm farm is pretty flimsy and doesn’t keep out the rain, so I also have a shower curtain liner draped over it all now.
And… I’ve also added my worms!
I didn’t add the worms immediately upon making the first feeding tray because I had read that you need to give the food time to start decomposing before adding them. So just yesterday I went to a local fishing store and bought 250 red wiggler worms. And today they were added in to the first feeding tray (underneath the moist newspaper covering).
And that’s where I am today! My plan is to not touch my worm factory for the next 2 to 3 days to let the worms acclimate to their new home.
Cross your fingers for me that I don’t kill the poor things.
Oh, and fyi, my worms are fine and dandy but this is no way takes away from the fact that I want chickens. 🙂