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Using worms to reduce organic waste; Recycling


A trashy problem

Monday, June 16th, 2014
Post By Matthew Wilson

Post By Matthew Wilson

Throwing away food scraps creates many problems. First of all, it is wasteful. Food scraps can easily be recycled back into fertilizer which is used to make more food. Every year farmers dump thousands of tons of synthetic fertilizers on their farms. These synthetic fertilizers can be replaced with compost. This produces a closed and sustainable loop. Waste in garbage cans also has several practical problems. Trash stinks and attracts flies, rats and other pest. It takes a lot of time, effort and machinery to bag (plastic bags = more waste), transport, compact, transport again, and then dig a big hole to bury all that trash.  Furthermore organic waste produces methane (20 times more potent greenhouse gas than CO2) and fills up landfill space.

20% of trash is compostable, however only 8% of households compost. Restaurants, cafeterias, grocery stores and many other companies send thousands of tons of waste to the landfill every day. Traditional composting requires lots of time, land and heavy equipment to efficiently handle the organic waste. Furthermore, waste has to be separated at the source and transported to the composting facility. Due to the large land requirements, compost facilities are located many miles from the waste source.

Small scale on site vermicomposting of organic waste represents one of the best alternatives to landfill disposal. Vermicomposting is scalable and versatile. Vermicomposting can be done at home in a simple container or by using one of the many available worm bins. The Worm Factory 360 is an excellent example. Also vermicomposting can be done on a larger scale at places such as restaurants using worm bins like the Worm Wigwam. Furthermore, vermicomposting can be done on industrial scales such as that which is being done at Oregon Soil Company.

You can start composting your garbage at home today. It’s super easy and it can pay for itself with all natural organic fertilizer. If you garden it is a no brainier. The Worm Factory 360 and a pound of worms is the easiest complete kit for worm composting available. However, if you have some used containers laying around that you would like to re-purpose into a worm bin, that works as well. Most important is just to start somewhere and make a goal to send less to the dump and keep that good fertilizer for your garden!


Will my worms over populate?

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

I am commonly asked if worms can over populate the worm bin. Worms multiply quickly, but they will not overpopulate. Worms can double in population every 90 days or so, but once a certain amount of worms inhabit an area the reproduction slows.

The worms seem to reach this equilibrium at about 2 pounds of worms per square foot of surface area. In actuality it highly depends upon how heavily they are fed and the aeration of the bin. The more worms you have though the quicker your compost will … compost.

Worm Composting Video of Tomatoes and Cucumber Salad

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Worm Castings Video

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Video by

Compost and Vermicompost, What are they?

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Compost is the process through which organic matter transforms from an unstable state to a stable state. To understand this, think about an apple that has fallen off of a tree and is left sitting on the ground undisturbed. The apple, although fresh and ready to eat when it falls from the tree, will not stay in this condition for long. Because the apple cannot stay in its present condition it is said to be in an unstable state. The apple has stored energy in the form of sugars, starches, and proteins. These chemical stores of energy came from the sun and were stored through the process of photosynthesis. The apple tree took CO2, water, oxygen, and converted these basic ingredients using sunlight through the process of photosynthesis into the sugars and starches that make up most of the apple. The apple will soon begin a natural and God created process  of decomposition called composting. Organisms such as yeast, bacteria, and fungus will begin breakdown of the apple into a more stable form and eventually into a material called humus. Humus has many important functions that whole books could be written on, but for basics its important to know that humus holds nutrients for plant use and acts as a filter and helps prevent contamination of ground water from many chemicals (Miller 148).

It is quite fascinating to see how this natural process keeps everything in balance. If things did not rot (compost) eventually there would be huge piles of leaves in the forest, our uneaten apple cores would soon litter the planet, grass clippings would eventually take over your yard, so on and so forth, but more importantly the soil would soon run out of nutrients because they were not getting replenished. Composting is necessary for new things to come about. Composting is a natural process through which God has allowed for His creation to continually renew itself. Everything that was once living will eventually turn back into the soil. (Genesis 3:19) The complexity of natural cycles is amazing and so vast that scientist cannot completely understand the chemistry involved, yet at the same time somehow they are fascinatingly simple and complete systems.

A large portion of garbage created comes from organic and once living sources. All the food, paper, wood, cotton and much of the other resources we use come from the ground as grown products. These product all can be turned into compost when their usable life is over. Currently we throw much of these materials into landfill when they could be used to enrich our soils. The problems comes from the fact that the natural process of composting is to slow to efficiently handle the huge volumes of organic material currently produced. However through intentional composting and using special methods we can compost large amounts of garbage quickly, producing a valuable soil amendment in the process of reducing waste. This also prevents depletion and waste of agricultural capacity.

Many different compost methods have been devised by people over the years. Some compost methods are suitable for extremely large scale facilities composting hundreds of cubic yards a day and some methods have been developed that can allow for a completely automated compost bin to fit under your kitchen counter. One type of composting called thermophilic composting requires temperatures to climb to over 150 degrees F, compared to vermicomposting which takes place at room temperature. Vermicomposting is of course composting with the use of earthworms. Vermicomposting can also vary in scale from million dollar operations to 15 dollar plastic containers.

Red Worm Feeding Frenzy, How To Compost Quickly Using Red Worms

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Red worms are well know for their ability to consume vast amounts of food in a short time and multiply like mad as well. Often time however our worms will fail to meet this potential due to not a failure on their part but due to a lack proper conditions for them to get worked up into this feeding frenzy. When things are just perfect though, you can literally see the food disappearing in a matter of hours. This will work best in well established worm beds that have plenty of worms in them. There should be at least 1 pound of worms per square foot for this to work right.

It takes a few days to get a properly maintained worm bed to this point of boiling over with worm activity. First thing is to have the bedding material loose so that the worms can freely move through the bedding. Second is that the moisture level needs to be right. To check the moisture level, grab a handful of the bedding substrate and give it a squeeze. If no water drops are produced then it is way to dry. On the other hand if more than 4-5 drops of water are squeezed out then it is way to wet. Ideally 2-3 drops of water should come out of the bedding for best composting speed.

Worms must have plenty of easily digestible food to eat in order to get worked up onto a composting frenzy. All your normal compostables will work, but in order to get thing really moving fast you can mash or chop them up into smaller sizes, but this is not necessary and the worms will work on them either way. The food needs to be near the top of the bed as that is where the worms prefer to feed. It is provably best to feed in strips rather that feed the whole top. That way if the feed starts to heat up the worms will have a place they can escape to.

Check the worms every couple of days. As long as they have food and the moisture level is right they should really start to work on the food. Feed them just beside of the previous feeding moving the strip of feed just a little each time. The worms will follow the food scraps. If they run out of food then they will disperse through the bedding and it will take a few days to get them started eating like crazy again. This is not necessarily a bad thing though and every once in a while the bedding should be allowed to go without food for a few days so that any missed food will get consumed. Follow this and you will have loads of worms casting and no food scraps to throw out!

Thanks for reading,
Matthew Wilson
Worms Etc

Can-O-Worms Composter System Review and Instructions

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011
can o worms composter

can o worms

The Can-O-Worms composting system is a well made stack-able tray worm composter. It is made out of sturdy thick black plastic and all the pieces fit together well. It comes with a very complete and informative set of instructions. Can O Worms Instructions The lid is extremely tight fitting and worms are very unlikely to escape. The Base is well designed and includes a tap to drain off any excess liquids.

The manufacturer did a great job thinking the system out. They included everything you need to vermicompost with the Can-O-Worms except the worms. They send you knowledge, bedding, the bin and even thought to have the packaging double as a temporary cover for the tray holes on the first level.

As I have often stated, worms do not need a mansion to live in, however if you are serious about vermicomposting and want a high quality composter system for your worms to produce lots of high quality vermicompost, then this is the system for you.

Buy your Can-O-Worms composter here

Plant Growing and Soil Admendment Research

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011
Hoophouse for worms

Greenhouse Construction Underway

One of the major reasons I got into worm farming is my passion for farming and in particular my love for gardening. For many years now I have kept a garden and enjoy gardening very much. I will admit to my slackness in removing weeds in the past, but fortunately I have learned techniques that prevent weeds from even growing in the first place. I never imagined that I would be able to sell enough worms to make a living and started the worm farm thinking that composting would be my number one profit maker. However because of increased environmental awareness, composting worm sales are really strong. I guess that it would be possible to only sell worms and be quite successful. However that is not my end aim and my passion for growing plants dictates that I develop a line of products that will help everyone grow the best plants possible at their own homes.

As posted on the website I am building a large greenhouse like shelter that will be used to grow worms in, but I am going to set aside a fair sized portion of the building for research into growing plants, fruits, and vegetables. The end aim of this research will be to produce the best line of potting soils and soil amendments available anywhere. These products will all use worm castings and revolve around worm castings’ ability to bolster plant growth and health.

While we already sell castings online and some potting soil, I am really excited about selling on a large scale. Its a great product and our continuous research is sure to make it better.

Composting made simple using red worms. Indoors!

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Composting food scraps is easy and fun to do even in ones home. If you have an outdoor area to compost in then you can certainly compost a larger amount, but even if you live in an apartment you can still compost most of your food scraps.

Items such as newspaper, leaves, cardboard, dried straw, paper towels are considered to be bedding or browns. It is important to have enough of these in every compost pile. Because these items decompose slowly and they have extra carbon they keep the composting process under control and prevent smells. Also when using worms in the compost pile they provide the worms with an escape from the composting process. Worms will live in these materials and move in and out of them as they consume and compost the food scraps.

Most food scraps can be composted as long as they don’t contain dairy, meat, or to much oil or salt. Worms love vegetable scraps, egg shells, tea leaves and coffee grounds including the filters.

There are many good compost bins for sale. Some are more complicated then they need to be but any will work. The simple fact is that worms do not require a mansion to live in. I suggest that if you are on a budget (aren’t we all?) to get a plastic tote to keep your worms in. A simple sweater storage box available at most any store works great. Many other sites and people say to poke holes in the bin for air circulation and indeed this may help, but if your bin is not more than a foot or so deep that the hole are not even necessary. If you don’t place hole just simply leave the lid off. If a dim night light is kept on the worms at all times then they should not every try crawling out. A piece of cardboard placed over the top of the bedding in the bin will help keep the bedding moist and the worms happy.

For the first month or so the worms will not use much food. I believe this is because of two things, first the bedding will act as food for the worms and second the worms need a certain amount of living organisms in the bin in order to compost and digest the food. The bin will be lacking in these beneficial organism for a few weeks until the population is established. After a month or so the worms should be consuming their weight in food every week. They may consume up to twice that amount under some circumstances.

Collecting the castings to be used in the garden is easy. The red wiggler worms migrate towards the new food and up. This is of great benefit to us as it makes harvesting easy. In order to harvest casting and leave the majority of the worms behind, simply feed the worm to one side for a week or so and after the worms migrate to that side scoop the section up with the worms and set them to the side in a temporary container. After the worms are set aside, harvest about half of the castings and add new bedding and a little food. Now the castings are ready to be used in the garden and the worms can be placed back into the worm bin. Just add the worms and the material the were in on top of the newly added bedding and they will crawl down into the material and begin eating right away. The castings will likely contain a few worms and some worm eggs as well, but they should not be so many as to effect your bin to much and the extra space will promote the other worms to reproduce anyhow.

You can have a worm bin anywhere. They do not produce any offensive odors if cared for properly and can be placed anywhere a trash can goes. Composting with worms reduce the amount of garbage sent to a landfill, the castings help produce greener, healthier plants.

What do I use for a red worm bin.

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

What makes a good worm bin or worm composter? How do I construct a worm bin or farm? Continue reading “What do I use for a red worm bin.” »