“Vermi” means something that deals with worms, so when you are vermicomposting, you are composting with worms. All you need to do to vermicompost is feed your worms food scrap. It really is that easy! The worms will eat this food and turn it into organic fertilizer that you can use in your garden, lawn, and even houseplants. This fertilizer has many names, including worm castings, worm feces, humus, or worm manure. You will need a few basic supplies before you start composting. Are you ready to learn all about vermicomposting for beginners?
Worm Factory 360
One quick and easy way to get started is the Worm Factory 360. You can read about how we set our up and watch the video in our post Setting up a Worm Bin: The Worm Factory 360. Depending on where you purchase the worm factory, many retailers include a coupon to send in for free worms. In terms of ease of use, I think the Worm Factory 360 is the best vermicomposting for beginners. However, you don't need a fancy bin if you're willing to put the supplies together yourself and do a little extra work.
First things first, you’re going to need worms! The Red Wiggler is our “King” of composting. Not only are they great at composting, but they are also known for doubling their original population in as little as three months. European Night Crawlers (Super Reds) are another option, and are great for fishing bait, as well! Super reds can also be released into your garden and lawn to aerate.
Vermicomposting Composting Bins for Beginners
Your worms are going to need a place to call home. Composting trays are one of the best options, as they are very easy to maintain and harvest. They won’t get too heavy, so they are also easy to lift if they need to be moved. That's the type of system that the Worm Factory 360 is.
You can also use any basic plastic tote. That is what we are setting up this year so stay tuned for more information including a step-by-step video.
You will need bedding for your worms to live in. Your worms will do best in bedding that is most like their natural environment. It will need to have a neutral pH (7), be able to hold enough moisture, and not have any elements that may harm your worms’ delicate skin.
You can use shredded brown cardboard, coconut coir, shredded unbleached paper/black ink only newspaper, or pure peat moss. Using one type by itself is fine, but worms would rather have a mixture of bedding types.
Make sure you keep your worms’ bedding moist. We recommend setting out some tap water overnight before mixing it with the bedding. The chlorine in the water needs time to evaporate.
Worms need to be kept hydrated or they will die. Their bedding should be damp, but not too wet. It should feel like a wrung-out sponge.
Temperature and pH Level
A pH of 7 is the best for your worms. To measure the pH, you can purchase a hydrometer from any hardware store. An acceptable range is between 5 and 9, but 7 is ideal. In order to have a neutral pH, the bedding and composting materials need to be taken into account. Confused about pH?
As for temperature, worms need a controlled environment. Your worms will do best between 40 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Extreme cold or heat will cause your worms to suffer.
Feeding Your Worms
The last step is making sure your worms stay well fed. Feeding your worms is easy—you just give them any leftover food scraps! They love fruit and veggie peels, coffee grounds, tea bags, or vegetables.
They have sensitive stomachs; so don’t feed them things that will upset their stomachs like meat, fish, bones, or dairy. Also, keep any acidic, oily, and spicy foods away from the bin! Your bin will start to smell bad if your worms consume any of these and happen to fall ill.
Need even more information about vermicomposting? Join our urban homesteading group on Facebook or leave us a comment and we'll be happy to answer it.