A guide to vermicomposting, part 1: Supplies

Vermicomposting, or worm composting, is a popular way to turn organic waste into microorganism-friendly and nutrient-rich soil for farms and gardens.

The practice uses earthworms to convert organic waste into chemical-free fertilizer and is known to enhance plant growth, suppress plant disease, increase microbial activity in soil, and improve water retention and aeration. It’s also beneficial to the environment because it reduces the need for chemical fertilizers and also decreases the amount of waste dumped in landfills.

While some of the ‘worm food’ can come from kitchen scraps, animal products like meat and dairy should not go into compost bins because these can emit a foul smell while decomposing and can even attract maggots or flies.

There are already many commercial worm farm setups already assembled and ready to use that are available for purchase. However, building a personal worm farm system can sometimes be a more practical approach.

Here are the things you need to start building your own vermicomposting system:

  1. Two large plastic bins with the same size. Choose those with a large surface area and at least 12 to 18 inches of depth.
  2. Worms. One pound is enough to start with. Worms reproduce and regulate their own population based on available food sources and won’t cause much concern about adding or subtracting their numbers.
  3. Drill. Any regular drill can be used to drill holes in the plastic bins.
  4. Old newspapers and/or dried leaves. This adds to the decomposing material and serves as food for the worms. Avoid using colored ink pages to keep toxic chemicals from harming the worms.
  5. A container to keep household waste. Keep it separate from the compost bin to avoid speeding up the decomposing process or to overfeed the worms.
  6. Water. Water is an important component in the worm farm system because it helps in the decomposition of natural materials. However, don’t add too much or too little because this can affect the amount of time it will take for the other products to decay.

The next article will discuss how to put these supplies to work, detailing the steps needed to be done in order to produce a successful worm farm setup.

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