How to Compost With Red Wiggler Worms
Composting with red wiggler worms, also known as Eisenia fetida, is an excellent way to reduce food waste while creating rich compost for your garden. Red wiggler worms are one of the best composting worms because they eat constantly, reproduce quickly, and thrive in confinement. Composting with worms is also known as vermicomposting. In this comprehensive guide, I’ll walk you step-by-step through setting up and maintaining a worm composting bin.
Choosing a Worm Composting Bin
The first step is to set up the right environment for your worms to thrive. There are many options when it comes to worm composting bins:
Plastic bins are a common choice because they are inexpensive and easy to find. Look for opaque bins to keep out light. Drill about 10 holes in the lid and sides for ventilation. I prefer bins that hold between 10-40 gallons. Make sure the bin has a snug fitting lid to contain odors and moisture.
Wooden compost bins made from untreated wood allow for lots of air circulation. Avoid cedar and pine which contain oils that can harm worms. Include a lid or cover to retain moisture. My favorite wooden bins are multi-tray systems which make harvesting compost easy.
Flow-through, or stacking bins, are ideal for continuous compost harvesting. Food waste is added to the top bin and finished compost can be removed from the bottom. Redworms migrate down through the trays as you add new waste.
Setting Up Your Worm Bin
Once you’ve chosen a composting container, you’ll need to prepare the worm bedding. Here’s how:
Shred paper and cardboard into 1 inch strips for bedding. Moisten the bedding so it’s like a wrung-out sponge.
Fluff the bedding to create lots of air pockets.
Add a couple handfuls of soil or sand to provide grit for digestion.
Mix in a few tablespoons of crushed eggshells for calcium.
Layer the bedding in your bin at least 12 inches deep.
Lastly, add 1 lb of redworms to start, about 1000 worms.
Feeding Your Worms
Redworms aren’t picky eaters! They consume half their body weight each day. Here are the best foods:
Fruit and vegetable scraps – Especially melon rinds, cores, stalks.
Coffee grounds and filters
Shredded cardboard and paper
Avoid excess citrus, onions, garlic, meat, and oily foods. Only add what will be consumed in 3-4 days to prevent rotting. Bury food in a different spot each time to evenly distribute worms.
Maintaining Your Worm Bin
Keeping your worm bin healthy takes some simple regular maintenance:
Keep bedding moist like a wrung-out sponge by spraying water. Don’t soak it!
Fluff bedding weekly with a pitchfork to improve air flow.
Add more bedding when existing bedding gets thin.
Harvest finished compost from the bottom every 2-3 months.
Remove any moldy food that isn’t consumed right away.
Follow these steps and you’ll have thriving worms, reduced waste, and rich vermicompost for your plants! Let me know if you have any other questions about composting with red wiggler worms.