Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Vermiculture Starts in my Compost Bin

So, this is something I learned last week at the Vermi- culture workshop at the Comox Valley Regional Compost Education Centre: If you have a regular composting bin you don't have to buy your red wigglers!  They live in your backyard!

Years ago I bought a pound of red wigglers, a squiggling ball of them in an ice cream pail, from the local Oxfam group in Saskatoon, just around the corner from my then-workplace.  I think it cost $5.  The profits went into programming for youth in the community, one program of which was actually learning to operate a worm farm and to do other forms of composting.

I thought that the worms I bought were different from the worms in my garden, a more exotic variety perhaps.

Turns out they are the same critter.  And if you want to start your worm colony you only need three things:
*the worms
*the plastic bin with holes drilled in it and a lid on top
*a bed of newspaper and food

Use newspaper with vegetable ink print and not the chemical ink type.  The Courtenay Record is an example of that vegetable-based ink.  Be careful of anything colored, and for sure, DO NOT USE GLOSSY PAPER.  Tear all the newspaper into strips and fill up your bin (that has holes drilled for air: 3 around the center at the bottom-- right around the small center-- for drainage; 3 on each side around the top of 2 sides of the bin-- NO HOLES IN THE LID.

This is your worm nursery.  Find a place where you want to keep it, maybe near your kitchen.  It will not smell bad.  The worms appreciate a warm environment much as we do, so if your garage is heated, that will work, but if it is -20 in the winter, the worms likely won't survive, or won't reproduce as vigorously.

Put a saucer under your box, right under the three drainage holes (that gives you an idea of where the holes are to be drilled).  This centralizes the drainage.

Now, the last thing I did today was to take a half of a scooped out cantaloupe shell, like a big cup, and bury it about six inches in my compost box.  In about three days it should contain the worms that came to eat there.  These will be my colony's first worms.  Neat huh?

This is as far as I have gotten... more as I do it!  Stay tuned!

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