DIY Vermicomposting   (to go back use your browser's 'back' button )  August 2001

Getting Started
Creating a home for your composting worms couldnít be easier. Worms donít need luxury accommodation and any decent sized bin or box can be adapted for vermicomposting. If conditions in the container are correct your worms will thrive ≠eating all your kitchen scraps and some garden clippings (we will deal with larger scale vermicomposting at a later date). Making the environment suitable for housing worms requires a few simple steps outlined below. If possible reuse/recycle materials you have lying around rather than buying anything. After all that is what vermicomposting is all about. 

Containers
Worms are surface feeders. The larger the surface area the better. A surface area of 1/2 square meter and over is acceptable for normal household and small garden waste. A large plastic bin, oil drum or wooden box (without wood preservatives as they would be toxic to the worms) will make a fine home for worms. Note that for Eco Nappy composting, a larger area is required. (See Plans Here) Position your container out of direct sunlight on a couple of blocks or bricks to allow free drainage or access to your tap.

Preparing your bin
Air is important

As composting with worms is an aerobic process it is important that whatever container you use allows lots of oxygen in but keeps flies and vermin out. Make a secure fitting lid for the container you are converting. Drill / punch or otherwise make a number of small vents in your bin and cover these with mesh to deter flies.

Drainage matters too
If you add a tap near the base of your bin you will be able to collect any leachate produced to use as a plant feed. If you are not going to fit a tap drill some holes in the base also for drainage. Place a layer of gravel (about 10 cms in the base of your bin with a 10 cm layer of sand on top). Your drainage system is now in place.

Give them a nice bed
The bedding is the worms starter home and safe haven should conditions in the above feed layer become unfavourable. There are many materials suitable for worm bedding but we find the most common types available in or around the home are shredded / torn newspaper or cardboard (preferably corrugated) leaves or manure. Add a good 40 cm layer of this. Donít worry if this fills your bin up a lot it will reduce down quite rapidly once the worms get to work. If you are using only paper or cardboard add a shovelful of soil, as this will introduce many beneficial composting creatures to your bin to work with the worms. 

Adding the worms
There are a large variety of worms in your garden but the ones you need are composting worms. These are found feeding on rotting debris. If you have a compost heap or manure pile dig in to the outer layers and you could find a ready supply of free workers. Otherwise you must buy some. Place your worms on top of the bedding and watch as they burrow down into it away from the light.

Feeding time
As there is plenty of feed for the worms in their bedding it is better to feed lightly at first. Add some uncooked scraps at first and check frequently to see how much your worms are eating. Donít add anymore feed until the last lot is gone. Worms will eat almost anything but be careful not to add too much of foods that are very acidic, salty or spicy. If you check on your worms often you will soon get a feel for what is right for them.

To see plans for a worm composter for Eco Nappies, please See Plans Here

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