Homegrown | Worms Can Recycle Your Garbage (Vermicomposting)


Hi I’m Rhonda Sherman. I’m an extension
specialist at NC State University and this is Homegrown in the Garden. Today
I’ll be showing you how to set up a worm bin so that you can vermicompost your
food scraps. It will enrich your soil and make your plants much bigger as you can
see in this picture of turnips. The small turnip had zero vermicompost, the middle one
had 10% by volume and the large one had 20 percent by volume vermicompost. First
of all you need to buy or build a worm bin. So you just pick up a container with
a lid at a big-box store or a hardware store. You know the worms are living
creatures, they need air so you need to put some holes on the bin for them to
breathe. You want to make sure you drill the holes in the upper sides of the bin.
And so one option is just to take a hole saw and drill just one hole in each of
the shorter ends of the bin. So one each, and then you can go to the gutter
section of a hardware store and pick up a soffit vent and you just pop it in
there. And then you want to put about six holes in the bottom of the bin just so
that in case you have any excess drainage that it will come out and you
would want it to go on a piece of plastic.
There are over 9,000 species of earthworms and only seven have been
identified that are suitable for vermicomposting. So you can’t
use just any worm. If you buy a pound of worms – that’s about a thousand – you buy it
from a worm grower, it’ll cost you around $30.00. Worms need
moisture. You need to put some type of bedding in there. You can just take
newspaper, hold it up as if you were going to read it and then just take a
corner and pull it straight down and you’ll get a nice thin strip of
newspapers that you can then put into your bucket where you have water because
you want to moisten it. Remember the worms need 80% moisture for their bodies.
You want it to soak for ten minutes. And then, when ten minutes is up, you can
take it and squeeze excess moisture out of it, pull it apart and put it into the
worm bin. And in the worm bin you’re going to fill it up about halfway with
that shredded paper. So by the way, never pour water into your worm bin. Instead, if
it starts to dry out a little bit, use a plant mister like this and just spritz
it – spritz it into the worm bin. So we’ve made the bedding and now we’ll just add
our worms. And worms will usually come to you from a worm grower either in a bag
or a box. I just happen to put my worms in a container today but anyway you just
gently will empty them onto the top of the bedding and just stand back. They
will move under the bedding so you don’t do anything. Take food scraps then which
you’ve collected, you can collect your food scraps in a container like this
where you buy it, it has a lid. Take your lid off your worm bed then. And then
you’ll take your food waste, and always have a three prong tool. Gently pull back
the bedding and then you dump some food waste into your bin. You want to make
sure to cover it with bedding. That’s very important because if you
don’t you could attract fruit flies. And then you put your lid back on and
everything’s fine. You can put most types of food waste in here. I have a list on
in my publication that tells you what not to put in there. For example, if you
put citrus into the bin, then that makes it too acidic and it can cause problems.
You never want to put dog or cat poop into your worm bin and you also don’t
want to put dairy products or meat products into your worm bin, because as
they decompose, they’re smelly and they can attract unwanted visitors. The worms
will excrete what’s called castings and the castings will start to build up in
the bottom of the bin. And as they get higher, after about four to
six months, then you’ll say okay I think it’s time to harvest these castings. So
you have some options and the first is called light separation. Earthworms are
very sensitive to light so you can just dump this out on a tarp and you can
separate the worms from the castings. So after four to six months you’ll be able
to harvest this wonderful vermicompost from the bottom of your worm bin. Put it
in a container labeled black gold, because it has an incredible effect on
your soil and plants in your garden. This is Rhonda Sherman with Homegrown in the
Garden. Be sure to check out my website.

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