Red worms eat organic materials such as nutrient-packed raw fruits and vegetables.
When red consume fruits and vegetables, as the food passes through the worm’s body and exits through the tail, it becomes compost. Red worm compost is powerful fertilizer that can be used to help grow trees, plants and crops to their full potential. Red worm compost use is not limited to outdoor use. The odor is not offensive, so you can also use worm compost in the tops of indoor plants.
When feeding red worms, it only takes a few bits of fruit and vegetable scraps for the worms to get their fill. Remember, these tiny creatures can fit in the palm of your hand, so can you imagine feeding a large apple to a tiny worm and expecting it to eat it in one sitting. In fact, it will take anywhere from 3-5 months for the worms to eat through a few tiny bits of organic material.
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How to Make Your Own Worm Composter
Some worm composters are “small scale” while others may be “large scale.” A small scale worm composter may be homemade or purchased from a retailer. Small-scale worm composters may be made of wood, plastic, metal or Styrofoam. The preferred choices, however, are plastic or wood. Small-scale worm composters should always have holes in them to allow air to flow through and for draining purposes. A small scale worm composter is usually covered with a lid to prevent the worms from escaping.
Large scale worm composters large sized worm composters. Besides size, a major difference between large scale and a small-scale worm composter is large scale composters are typically uncovered. The worms do not try to escape mainly because large-scale composters contain an overabundance of organic matter for worms to feed on. They won’t try to escape because they don’t have to go searching for food.
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To make your own small scale worm composter you will need several items including:
•Raw fruits and vegetables
•A shallow container (24″ X 18″ X 8″ should suffice) with a lid
•Worms, preferably red worms such as Eisenia foetida or Lumbricus rubellus
Red worms can be purchased from a number of online retailers or at most plant and/or pet stores. When you are ready to build your bin, wash out the bin or container you plan to use. If you have a wooden bin, line the bottom of it with sturdy plastic such as a heavy trash bag or shower curtain. Mix the organic materials together and add the worms. It takes roughly 3-5 months for the worms to eat through the materials. At this time, you will notice very little materials and a hefty amount of compost. Once this happens, it’s time to harvest.
Harvesting means, do not add any food to the bin for two weeks. When two weeks has passed, simply move all of the worm bin contents to one side of the bin and remove any large pieces of undecomposed materials. Add fresh materials – leaves, fruits and vegetables, to the empty side of the bin. Over the next two weeks or so, the worms will begin to move to the side where the new materials are located, leaving their compost behind. All that is needed at this point is to remove the old compost and replace it with fresh materials. Cover the new side of the worm composter to encourage the worms to migrate to the new side.
When you are ready to use your fresh worm compost, you can use several methods of extraction, but one method in particular seems to be the most effective. Dump the entire contents of the worm composter onto a large sheet of plastic and make several piles. Once exposed to the light, the worms will quickly bury themselves in the bottom of the compost within 2-3 minutes. After a few minutes, remove the top layer of compost, leaving the worms on the bottom. Once you have removed all of the red worm compost, simply collect the worms and return them to the composter.
Red worm composting material is ready to use immediately or you can store it for later use. Worm compost can be added directly into your potting soil or mixed in with your garden soil as a soil amendment. If you notice a worm or two in the compost, don’t be alarmed. This is fairly common. If the worm is still alive, simply return it to the bin if you are ready to create a new batch of red worm compost.