Vermicomposting – Produced by Tagawa Gardens, a partner in PlantTalk Colorado

hi I’m Luan Akin with Tagawa Gardens here in Centennial, Colorado. And this lady who looks like she’s kind of lost it here by me he is our Kris. She’s a master composter. She’s been composting worms for a long, long time. Long time. She’s taught me a lot about composting worms, and you’re just kind of going cuckoo with the newspaper what’s up? You know what I’m doing is making, this is a home for my worms. It may look like a bin but it’s really a worm home. It’s really a worm home and what you can do is go just about anywhere and find these wonderful bins and these become worm composting bins that you could have in a home and apartment in any, almost any, even in schools they use them a lot in any living situation that you don’t have access to putting out a composter. But this is the bedding bin and so this one’s about 15 inches high. You only need it to be 12 inches high and about a foot long or 15 inches long for a family of two. This is a big enough bin for a family of four. And by that you mean the amount of garbage leftovers spoiled food, that you can put in. Yes. I noticed you’ve done a little drilling here. Yes each hole is less than a quarter inch. It took about five minutes and there are holes all the way around the sides and on the bottom. Insulation. Ventilation, because we’re mimicking the earth and that’s one reason when you buy your bin do not buy a clear colored bin. It needs to be a dark-colored bin because our wormy friends, they live in the earth and they like dark. These aren’t the deep dwellers like earthworms. these red wigglers. Yes. Like the the duff and the leaves and things that are loose and airy so that’s why we need to keep this airy. It’s not down in the deep deep soil they’re up, they’re up early. And if you have, this is the bedding, this is using just the black and white section of a newspaper, not using that glossy. So it goes really quickly. Leaves in the fall, if you’re doing, if you’re starting your worm bin in the fall, is another good bedding and material. So these are your carbon, this is the carbon and we’re going to add water to get this to the consistency of a wrung out sponge. Can I help you stir? Yes, thank you. Now this will leak out of the bottom so be careful where you’re doing this. You might want to start your project outside or sometimes you can get an extra lid. Yes. Use that is a saucer. Yes because you’re going to be capturing this wonderful stuff called worm tea, which makes a wonderful fertilizer. Not too for us. Its tea for Mother Earth. That’s right. That’s looking really good. So see how… Good and the excess is going to drain out like this is just starting to do. Mm-hmm the worms breathe through their skin and so they can’t dry out. Right. Which is why you see the dead ones on the sidewalk sometimes because they dried out. So they need a moist environment to be able to breathe through their skin, not soggy but not dry. And it helps them to move too. Because they they move doing the twist. Let me have you do that again in a minute. Okay. So now we’re ready for worms so you don’t just dump them in there. I’m going to make a little landing strip for them where I scooped out the paper for a large area and then I’m going to go a little hollow. Yep. I’m going to put them in and then cover them back up so these are friends. Red wigglers you can get them at most independent garden centers and we carry them about six months of the year. We are not able to bring them in in the winter they don’t transport well in freezing temperatures. So right now they’re in what would be considered from a compost. Right they have already chewed this up it’s not recognizable. Here they come you see them I see them right in there. Yep, here they come. See them and there’s adults and babies and juveniles. There’s whole families in here, see that? Before we introduce all these sweet things into their new home some people think of worms is icky. I absolutely do not. I know you don’t. Oh, I love them, they’re my friends. But you need to understand that without the decomposers like worms and the other things we wouldn’t be here, we wouldn’t be able to support plant life, we wouldn’t have food. We need these guys to create new soil over time and that’s why they are not icky, they are absolutely our friends. Gardeners, one of the best friends. Oh yes and I do everything to encourage, encourage them in my garden and I just love what a workhorse they are. These are not night crawlers. These are red wigglers, Texas red wigglers, and these are specific worms for verma composting. And they are workhorses, I got to tell you I can’t believe right how hard they work. They do work hard, they work hard. Okay so you’re going to go ahead and set the little darlings in there, sprinkling them around just a little bit, and then we’re going to cover them back up so we could incorporate leaves that have been removed. Mm-hmm we can incorporate a lot of different things: bits of cardboard, corrugated cardboard, toilet paper rolls, all the paper rolls, paper towel rolls. They’re all considered carbon and the worms like that so now we’re going to leave them be for about a week to 10 days and then after this period of week to 10 days we’ll start adding our kitchen scraps, remembering never to add in any meat or dairy products you can add egg shells, but you need to break them up Because that’s calcium. It is and they need that. Right. And you do not add cat feces or dog feces. No carnivore feces just because of hygiene issues. Right. Okay so what can we expect to find in our little…? This is what I keep under the sink and what is in here are things like eggshells, some pears, here’s some stems from my tomatoes that we had for dinner last night, my Cherokee purples. Yeah. There’s coffee grounds, lovely tea bags. As any diet the more variety you can give them the better the compost is. Yeah, they like that diversity. House plants cuttings. Little fern. Yep, kiwi, kiwi shells. Here’s the stem to some lettuce. Remember this may look like garbage to us, to them the little worms is a grand buffet. Yep. You can even put old bread, moldy bread. Right. Excellent. Old cereals. Stale cereals, so then you’re gonna cut it up, I just do this to help the worms. Right. And cook and you know get a. Is that a pepper? Yep. Can they take hot food? That one’s not hot pepper. Okay, you can’t use spicy peppers. Okay. So in a week or ten days Lu, we’ll start adding this in to our warm bed. Not yet. When we go to add it in we don’t just dump it on the top. Ok. We’re going to choose a side of the bin that we’re going to use. So we’ll open up the bedding and we’ll add in our food scraps into that section and then cover it back up with the bedding and then on top of this will add sheets of newspaper that we moisten to create a little roof. Helps to keep some moisture in. And it keeps it prevents it prevents fungus, gnats. Now what the worms are going to do is wherever they are in the bin, they’re going to follow the food, so they’ll come from wherever they are to where the food is. And then every one of my family knows there’s an X on the top of the lid and this is the side we’re putting the food in. So we put the food on this side, and then once that starts the bedding starts composting and it doesn’t look like newspaper anymore, the food doesn’t start looking like newspaper anymore, then we switch it and put the food on the other side, and I empty out this side of the bin and that goes into the garden. Any uncomposted items will go back over to the other side. The worms will then go back to that side because they know the food’s over there. I do this change about every two or three months. Harvest half of it. Mm-hmm, going back and forth, and back and forth, throughout the year you need to add about 2 cups of food per week for your work. As long as they are feeding on what you’ve already given them, and the worm population expands pretty quickly, so when in doubt I would say under feed a little bit, rather than over feed. It gets sour, it gets a little gamey in there and that’s bad for the worms, and it could be bad for if you. If you notice a smell, or fruit flies something’s wrong. Right. don’t put your bin anywhere where it’s going to get above 77 degrees. That’s going to be too warm for them, and you don’t want it to also get below 55. 55 mid 50s to mid 70s. Yes, so if you were to put your been outside in the summer make sure to bring it in in early fall before the night time temperatures will be too cold for your worms. Don’t put your worm bin where it would get too much sunlight. So we’d have to be in a shady area, and if you have your worms in a garage you need to make sure it’s an insulated garage, or a heated garage. I use mine, put mine in the basement, it does just great in the basement. Don’t put it near the washing machine because the vibration of the washing machine, on spin cycle the worms will think they’re in an earthquake and they’ll start climbing out. So just know not to do that, yes, because if they start coming out that’s a sign something’s wrong. One time I said ‘Why are you all climbing out?’ and I went to see and my bin holes had gotten plugged up. So it’s too wet. So it’s too wet and I didn’t, couldn’t see that on the top. But as I dug down i could see oh now I understand the problem my bin was too wet, I poked holes with a chopstick, they drained, everybody was happy again. Keeping your worms happy, keeping your plants, happy keeping yourself happy. It is so much fun. Great way to get kids engaged with Mother Nature right? So Kris is a huge worm bin fan, as am I, as are a whole lot of the folks here at Tagawa’s. Come see us. We’ll talk you through a worm bin of your very own, and be happy to help you and your worms be green and grow.

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