Cathy's Crawly Composters

Setup, Feeding and Maintenance of your Worm Bin

 
 

 

 
     
 

Bedding

  • Dry Bedding Material
    (use a combination of one or more dry bedding ingredients listed below)
    • Brown leaves/straw
    • Shredded paper or newsprint (avoid glossy paper)
    • Egg cartons /coffee trays
  • 2 Tablespoons - crushed eggshells or agricultural lime
  • 1 litre of soil (ordinary garden soil)

Steps to Prepare Bedding

  1. Fill worm bin with dry bedding material. (leaves, shredded paper, etc.)
  2. Add water (approximately 2-3 litres) and mix contents.
  3. Bedding should be the consistency of a wet sponge.
  4. Pour off any excess water. (Worm bin should be full of wet material)
  5. Add more dry bedding or water as required.
  6. Add crushed eggshells/limestone and soil.
  7. Add the worms.

Adding the Worms to the bin
*Note: To ensure your worm bin is fully ventilated, drill at least 10-20 - 3/16" holes in your bin.
Water should be left out overnight prior to preparing bedding.
This will insure any chlorine evaporates and will bring water to room temperature.
Do not use water from a water softener - the salt will burn your worms.

Important: Be sure to add the worms to the composter under direct light.

Simply place the worms on top of bedding. Their natural photophobic tendencies will force the worms into the bedding to a darker, more comfortable environment. Allow the worms to settle into bedding for a few days before feeding for the first time.

As most worm bins have air holes in the bottom, the worm bin should be raised off the ground. A tray should also be placed under the worm bin to catch any excess liquid. If liquid is dripping out of the bottom, this is an indication the worm bin is too wet. Simply pull back bin contents, and add dry bedding on the bottom to absorb the excess liquid.

Feeding the Worms

As the worms do not like to be disturbed, it is best to feed the worms 1-2 times per week rather than daily. Worms eat about half their weight daily. If feeding twice a week, add 1.5 - 2 lbs. each time. If a lot of food scraps are left over from previous feeding wait a day or two prior to adding additional food.

Bury food a couple of inches under the bedding. Bury the food in a different location each time. Be sure to cover food with bedding. Fruit flies are attracted to exposed food. Sprinkle a handful or so of crushed eggshells on top of bedding about once a week. Eggshells counter the acidity in food scraps. Do not over feed the worms!

Add additional bedding (eg. leaves, straw, shredded paper, etc.) when it is difficult to bury food scraps. Also helps absorb excess moisture if bedding becomes too wet. Worms generate heat and produce liquid, therefore, condensation will form on the lid.

Worm Food

Fruit/vegetable peels Coffee grounds/filters Plant cuttings
Tea bags Crushed eggshells Brown paper towels
Cooked pasta & rice (no sauce) Egg cartons/coffee trays Breads/cereals/grains
Leaves/grass clippings Beard clippings Beans
Manure (horse, cow, rabbit) Sawdust (from untreated wood)  

Worms do not have teeth, they have a gizzard and use the soil to process their food. Your worms will be eternally grateful if you chop the organic material into small pieces. The smaller the pieces, the greater the surface area to rot. The worms can process the organic matter more rapidly. They adore the pulp from juicers.

Do not include: meat & dairy products or pet waste.

Location of Bin

Store worm bin in cool, preferably dark place. Worms can live in 5 C - 30 C (40 - 90 F) temperature, ideal temperature 15 C - 21 C (60 - 70F).
Do not allow worm bin to freeze.

The Harvest

Harvest the worms when bedding has almost all been consumed (or turned into beautiful black castings) (4-6 months). Do not feed the worms for one-two weeks prior to harvesting. Allow the worms to finish their job. If any bedding or organic material is remaining, simply set aside and add with new bedding. There are several methods for harvesting.

Dump and Sort
Under bright lighting, empty composter contents onto a plastic sheet. Separate into pyramid shaped piles. Wait 10-15 minutes. Worms are very photosensitive, so to avoid the light, the worms will crawl to the bottom of the piles. Remove the top portion of each pile. Repeat this process until only the worms are remaining. Add the worms to fresh bedding and start vermicomposting process over again. Mix nutrient rich castings in gardens and houseplants.

Side to Side (If you are not comfortable handling the worms you may want to try this method of harvest.)
Feed the worms on one side of the bin for a number of weeks. This will force the worms to migrate to that side of the bin. Once the worms have moved over to the food source, remove the castings from the vacated quadrant. Replace the castings with fresh bedding (see bedding preparation above). Wait a week or two then repeat the process in the opposite direction, herding the worms into the new bedding.

If you encounter any problems or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

 
     
 

Cathy's Crawly Composters


Bradford, Ontario
Local: (905) 775-9495
Toll Free: 1-888-775-9495
email us at:
casey@cathyscomposters.com