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JJ the Gardener

Vermiculture, Vermicompost & Worm Castings - Part 2

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Vermiculture & Vermicompost

Part 2



Composting Worms and sources

Finding suitable worms for vermiculture.

  • It takes one pound of worms (1,000 individuals) to start a good-sized compost bin.
  • You may find redworms near compost, under rotting logs or similar decomposing situations.
    • You won’t be able to tell the difference between Lumbricus rubellus and Eisenia fetida. 
  • Composting worms can be purchased either locally or order via the Internet.
    • If a shop cannot tell you the scientific name of the worms do not purchase.


Worms suitable for vermicompost are from the epigeic class of worms.


Attracting compost worms & a worm barrel update...

photo.jpg Rob Bob's Backyard Farm & Aquaponics - Attracting compost worms & a worm barrel update...


4 Different Kinds Of Composting Worms

photo.jpg Larry Hall - Why Am I Raising 4 Different Kinds Of Composting Worms? Well Let Me Tell You Why!


Feeding worms

  • Once the earthworms have settled into their new home (after a couple of days) 
    • Add a small amount of food scraps on the surface of the bedding.
  • The amount should not exceed 1-inch high.
    • This will prevent the food scraps from building up heat which is detrimental to the worms.
  • Feed your earthworms any non-meat foods such as vegetables, fruits, crushed eggshells, tea bags, coffee grounds, shredded paper coffee filters, and shredded garden debris.
    • Red wigglers especially like cantaloupe, watermelon, and pumpkin.
  • Do not add citrus fruits or fruit peels to the bin 
    • They can cause the bin environment to become too acidic.  
  • Never add meat scraps or bones, fish, greasy or oily food, onions, garlic, fat, tobacco, citrus, salty foods, or pet or human manure.
    • They can bring in pathogens and attract pests.
  • Chop or blend food scraps into small pieces so they break down easier.  
    • This is not necessary but will help the food stock become consumed faster.
  • Once you have fed your earthworms, use a three-prong garden tool to cover the food scraps completely with 1 to 2 inches of bedding to prevent fruit flies from finding the food.
  • Food scraps can be stored for a few days before adding them to the worm bin.
    • Store in container with a lid next to or under their kitchen sink.
      • Coffee containers are excellent. 
    • Food scraps can also be stored in a container or bag in the freezer.
  • The worms may be fed any time of the day  
    • Earthworms can be fed as seldom as every two to three weeks, depending on how many earthworms are in the bin.
  • If you are going away for a couple of weeks, apply 1⁄2-inch layer of food scraps and cover it with two inches of moistened, shredded paper.
  • Manure can be used but is recommended to compost it first.
    • Non composted manure can be used but it can make the worm bin to hot.


Worm Chow Recipe by down to the roots.  Adding a spoonful of this sprinkled over the food stock will ensure a balanced and healthy nutrition for your worms which ensure quality castings.  Think quality in and quality out!

  • 1 Part-Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 Part-Corn Meal
  • 1 Part-Ground Oats
  • 1/2 Part-Ground Oyster Shell/Egg Shell - Eggshells need to be cleaned and dried before using.


Feeding composting worm bins video section

photo.jpg DownToTheRoots - How I feed my composting worm bins.


Homemade dry worm food (Worm Chow)

photo.jpg DownToTheRoots - Homemade dry worm food (Worm Chow)


Processing eggs shells for worm bin

photo.jpg DownToTheRoots - How I process egg shells for my worm bins.


Utilizing fish manure.

photo.jpgHome Farm Ideas - What to feed worms


Worm Slushies

photo.jpg Rob Bob's Backyard Farm & Aquaponics - How we feed our compost worms, worm slushies anyone ?


Harvesting the Vermicompost

You may harvest the vermicompost by one of three methods

After a few weeks, you will begin to see vermicompost on the bottom of the bin. Vermicompost is soil-like material containing a mixture of earthworm castings (feces) and partially decomposed bedding and food scraps.

  • In about four months, it will be time to harvest the vermicompost. :


Method 1: Sideways Separation.

  • Feed the earthworms on only one side of your worm bin for several weeks, and most of the worms will migrate to that side of the bin.
  • Then you can remove the vermicompost from the other side of the bin where you have not been adding food scraps, and add fresh bedding.
  • Repeat this process on the other side of the bin.
  • After both sides are harvested, you can begin adding food scraps to both sides of the bin again.


Method 2: Light Separation. 

  • Empty the contents of your worm bin onto a plastic sheet or used shower curtain where there is strong sunlight or artificial light.
  • Wait five minutes, and then scrape off the top layer of vermicompost.
  • The earthworms will keep moving away from the light, so you can scrape more vermicompost off every five minutes or so.
  • After several scrapings, you will find worms in clusters; just pick up the worms and gently return them to the bin in fresh bedding (with the old bedding mixed in).


Method 3: Vertical Separation. 

  • Before you begin vermicomposting, either buy a manufactured stacking bin or make your own. 
  • Set one bin aside and vermicompost in the other bin for a few months.
  • When the bedding in the bin fits snug against the bottom of the bin you set aside, simply fit the second bin inside the first one, and begin only feeding in the top bin for the next several months.
  • Most of the earthworms will move up into the upper bin to eat, and eventually the lower bin will just contain vermicompost.


Be on the lookout for earthworm egg capsules; they are lemon-shaped and about the size of a match head, with a shiny appearance and light-brownish color. The capsules contain between two and seven baby earthworms. Place the egg capsules back inside your bin so they can hatch and thrive in your bin system.


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