I attempted a vermicompost bin last season, but it really did not do well. I didn’t research it thoroughly – just kind of went at it all willy-nilly. Had I done a little more homework, I would have realized what I did wrong.
- I did not have a thick enough layer of bedding
- I did not have my bin in a good location. It was placed in an area that got way too much sun. I either cooked the poor worms, or they found a way to wriggle through the drain holes and on to more comfortable accomodations.
- I did not feed often enough
- I did not inspect it often enough
Had I completed Number 4, I would have been able to avoid the three other problems and correct them.
It wasn’t a total loss though. I had no worms left, but I did have a bin FULL of Black Soldier Fly Larvae. I did a quick “bug check” on Google, and found that I actually had something pretty beneficial! Check it out here: Black Fly Larvae
I dumped the whole bin of them into the compost pile, and within a week, we could tell the difference in the decomp happening. It was amazing. So, I guess this was one of those “happy accidents” that sometimes occur. I was still kinda upset about the worms though.
I was planning on using a 20 gallon Rubbermaid tub that I had in my garage. I have several of these storage tubs in varying sizes. I pick them up at thrift stores whenever one is there, if it’s priced right. They can always be used for SOMETHING. But, as I was rummaging through the storage closet to get the right sized tub, I found a styrofoam cooler that someone had given us several moons ago. Complete with a lid. Beauty! I decided to use that instead.
I made a few drainage holes in the bottom and on the sides. (Last year, I had waaaay too many drainage holes. The poor worms could have just fallen out probably. Lol!) I then lined the bottom with a couple of layers of moistened brown paper bag. What I found is that you want it “wrung out sponge wet”. (Last year, waaaay too wet.)
Next, it was time to dig for worms! Did you know Red Wigglers go for about $35.00 per pound?! I know that’s about 1,000 worms, but still! Seems awfully pricey! With a bit of elbow grease and patience I found a whole bunch of worms. I stopped counting at 78. And digging thorough areas of my own yard gave me the chance to dig up some grubs and green larvae thingeys, and other ickies that didn’t seem to be too “garden friendly”. Made a nice afternoon snack for the chickens!
I gave them a good layer of dirt for them wiggle around in. They use the grit of the dirt for digestion, as well as burrowing. I have all colors and sizes of worms in there! One joker was at least 5 inches long! Next I covered the dirt layer with some brown paper bag material. It was some sort of packing material with something one of my sons ordered online. Good thing I saved it! (What have I said about the danger of justifying my hoarding? Lol!)
Again, “wrung out sponge wet”. I just tore it into strips, dunked it by handfuls into a bucket of water and wrung it out. I also read that you want to kind of separate the strips of paper, otherwise, it might compact.
After a good deep layer of damp paper material, I added a layer of leaves from the yard and finally, I topped it off with some hay from my chicken coop cleaning out pile.
To catch the compost tea, I turned the lid upside down and placed it under the cooler. The lip worked great at keeping it elevated, so hopefully all the worm juice will drip into it like a tray. I then added some apple pieces, coffee grounds and eggshells under the leaf and hay layer. I checked after a couple of hours, and there was indeed some wiggling going on through all the layers! Oh, and I put it in a shady part of my yard.
We’ll see how it’s going in about a week or so. I’m hopeful that I’ll have some tea to use as I’m getting ready to transplant the veggies.
I certainly have a better understanding of how worms eat, digest, breed and how to use the tea they produce. And, the best part is I did it for FREE! If this works, I’ll have Liquid Gold for my garden for FREE!
How cool is THAT?!