Composting Information 

Decker Worm Sales Earthworms will help you grow better tasting and more nutritious vegetables, your flowers to have more abundant and colorful blossoms, and your plants to be sturdier and healthier. 

Every good gardener knows that one of the secrets to successful flowers and vegetables is growing them in a soil rich in organic matter. Yet, most native soils are woefully short of this special ingredient. Instead of heading to your nearest nursery or big box retailer, why not hire a few of our red wrigglers to do the job for you. It's also a great way to be a good steward of the planet's limited resources. 

Earthworms turn normal compost into the finest potting or mulching soil that has ever been discovered! In short, worms will happily turn all of that decaying waste into some of the best fertilizer on earth. Known as worm poop, worm compost, or worm castings - your Decker Worm Sales Earthworms will be very happy helping you grow amazing fruits, vegetables, flowers, or shrubs. 

 

Earthworms can swallow up to half their body weight per day of organic decomposing matter, digest it, and then extract its food value and expel the residue as worm castings, which are infinitely richer in nitrogen, phosphates, calcium, and magnesium than chemical fertilizers. 

 

Various studies have determined that fruits and vegetables grown using worm castings have yielded 25% to 30% larger crops.  Worm castings will never burn plant roots or harm pets or children. They are completely safe for the environment as well.

Decker Worm Sales carries a three species of worms suitable for your new composting bin. You will have the finest vegetables, fruits, and flowers you have ever produced if you follow these simple tips. 

You can use a simple compost bin to help your earthworm friends do their job. While there are a lot of good composting bins on the market, for an average homeowner, you can do the job more inexpensively with a few simple items. Simply follow the basic instructions below to get started!

Here are the 5 essential items you need to get started: 

* A plastic storage container or commercially made worm bin

* Worm Bedding

* Moisture

* Worms (The star of the show!)

* Kitchen Scraps and other organic matter

Now let's gets started! 

STEP 1:   GET A SUITABLE CONTAINER

We recommend a plastic storage bin with tight-fitting lid. A bin sized 2'Wx4'Lx1'H is ideal for a 2-3 person household disposing about 8 lbs of food scraps per week. The container should provide about one square foot of surface area for every pound of food waste per week. The bin should have drainage holes on bottom, a bottom catch tray, and air vents on top and sides. Drilling holes may be required. For a larger composting project,  you can purchase a commercial bin like the shown in the picture to the right. 

Worms like a moist, dark environment. Their bodies are 75 to 90 per cent water so their body surfaces must be moist for them to breathe. Cover the bin to conserve moisture and provide darkness, but make sure the aforementioned holes are available to allow oxygen in. Worm bins can be located in the basement, shed, or garage, provided that environmental conditions allow. 
 

They need to be kept out of the hot sun, heavy rain and cold. Most worms enjoy temperatures between 50°F and 80°F. As Goldilocks might say, a ambient temperature in the 70's is 'just right'!

When temperatures drop below 40°F, bins should be indoors, heated using lamps or other means, or very well insulated. Additionally, worms like low-traffic and low-noise; so keep that in mind when selecting an ideal location for your worm bin. 

Commercially made bins are made out of durable, often recycled plastic. They should have holes in the bottom for drainage of the leachate by-product that is created as your worms work, as well as screened air vents on the top and sides. The leachate collects in a lower tray and is poured off. Use it like Compost Tea to fertilize plants.

STEP 2:   ADD  MOIST BEDDING TO THE WORM BIN 

The bedding for a worm bin must be able to retain moisture and air while providing a place for the worms to live. Consider these materials for bedding, and vary the bedding from time to time to give the worms more nutrients and variation in their home away from home. 

 

Best items to use include: 
 

  • Shredded newspaper (preferably shredded in strips by hand) 

  • Coconut Coir 

  • Shredded leaves

  • Dried grass clippings (be weary of clippings that have commercial fertilizer on them) 

  • Chopped-up straw and other dead plants

  • Aged horse, cow, or rabbit manure

  • Peat moss (Caution: peat moss is very acidic and should only be used if well-soaked and combined with other bedding materials)

Moisten the bedding with water then let it soak for several hours. The consistency of the bedding material should that of a well-wrung sponge. Fill the worm bin approximately 2/3 full with your prepared bedding.  A 2X3 ft. bin will need about 10-15 lbs of bedding. We recommend fluffing the bedding to create air spaces for aerobic activity, reduce potential odor, and to give worms freer movement inside the worm bin. Place a couple of handfuls of soil within your worm bin to provide some grit to aid in digestion, and to provide a more natural environment for your new best friends to wiggle about and play and eat in. Check now and then to determine if it needs more moisture. Moisten with a spray bottle when required. 

STEP 3:   ADD WORMS TO YOUR BIN

 

Now the part of this project you're worked so hard to prepare for. Purchasing suitable Earthworms and adding them to your expertly prepared worm bin! Decker Worm Sales carries three species of worm that is suitable for for composting bins. For most folks, the best option is the trusty Red Worm. But there are other options, and we cover the various species of Earthworms we offer on the Earthworm Varieties page elsewhere on this website so we won't go into great detail here. Once you decide on which worm is for you, just head over to the Worms Superstore page to purchase your worms. We will package your worms and have them ready to hungrily gobble up kitchen scraps in your worm bin in a matter of days.   


How many worms to purchase? In general, about one to two pounds of Red Worms for every pound per day of food waste is a rule of thumb. To figure out how much food waste your household generates, monitor it for a week and divide by seven to get an average. If you aren't sure, start out with one pound of red worms. Over time, they will multiply. In fact, they can double in as little as every 90 days! Make sure to adjust the amount that you feed them as your worm population grows.

To add worms to the bin, simply scatter them over the top. The skin on a worm reacts to light and it will immediately work its way down into the bedding to get away from the light. That's it! You are now the proud owner of a worm paradise! Keep them happy, and they will keep you happy!  

STEP 4:   FEED YOUR WORMS 

The easiest way to feed your Earthworms is to simply spread food scraps in a thin layer on top of the moist bedding. The worms will come to the surface from inside the bedding and eat the scraps or pull them down into the bedding. This applies more aptly to Red Worms. Nightcrawlers 

burrow more deeply into the bedding and so special consideration needs to be made for Nightcrawlers. And this can apply to Red Worms as well. 


Divide the bin into several imaginary sections. Then bury successive loads of food scraps in each section, likely over a period of weeks. Pull back a small amount of bedding and dump the scraps into that area. Then cover the scraps with an inch or so of bedding. Start at one corner of the bin and work your way across the bin. By the time you get back to your first burying location, the worms will have composted most of the food scraps.

Worm composting takes a little practice and planning. A common mistake among beginners is having too few worms for the amount of waste you are tossing into the bin. You may soon discover that the food scraps in each section are not being eaten fully before additional scraps are put into that same section

7-10 days later. Given the right conditions, your earthworms will begin to multiply and that will eventually alleviate the problem naturally. Until that process is well underway, we recommend scaling back on the amount of food scraps and other organic material you are adding to the worm bin.

A well functioning worm bin should have little fowl odor. If you notice bad odors, cut back on the amount of food or try chopping the food up into smaller pieces. Citrus has a noticeable odor and the peelings are not eaten quickly. In fact, we suggest avoiding citrus scraps for that reason. In general, worms eat vegetables faster than fruit scraps. It's a great way to encourage the family to eat their vegetables! 

STEP 5:   HARVEST TIME!  

You are about to experience the amazing quality of worm castings! Happy worms living in a  scraps and bedding faster than any other compost method on planet Earth.

 

The bio-degradable material will pass through the worms' bodies and become worm castings. In about 12-16 weeks, the worms will have digested nearly all the kitchen scraps and bedding. The worm bin will be filled with a wonderful rich, nearly black natural fertilizer and soil amendment

that your plants will absolutely love.

Some interesting facts about worm castings: 

  • Worm castings contain five times more nitrogen, seven times more phosphorus and 11 times more potassium than garden soil

  • Worm castings are rich in humic acids and improve the structure of the soil

  • Worm castings are excellent for potted plants too!

 good, well-functioning home will digest kitchen

To keep your bin going, you will need to remove the castings from time to time and there are several ways to go about it.

1. Shine a bright light into the bin; worms are sensitive to light and will move to the lower layers of the bin. Remove the top layer of casting with your hands. As you remove layers of bedding the worms will keep moving to the bottom of the bin. From the removed bedding, pick out any worms or worm eggs (small, opaque cocoons) and return them to the bin. Refill the bin with fresh layers of moist bedding and scraps to begin the composting process again.

 

2. Push the black, decomposed material to one side of the bin, and fill the other side with new, moist bedding and kitchen scraps. Wait several days; the worms will migrate to the freshly filled side of the bin and you can just scoop out the finished compost. Pick out any red worms or worm eggs from the removed material and return them to the bin.
 

3. Dump the contents of the worm bin onto a tarp. Sort through the pile, pushing the castings into their own pile. Place the worms in another pile with some leftover castings and undigested bedding and food scraps. Then place the worms and remaining material back into the bin, add moist bedding and start the whole composting process over again

 

Lastly, a natural by-product of worm composting is the production of a liquid leachate. With some modification, liquid leachate is better known as Compost Tea. Also called Worm Tea, this liquid is a nutrient-rich by-product of the composting process and makes an excellent balanced fertilizer for plants. Make sure that your worm bin has bottom holes (this may be a spigot on some commercial worm bins), so that the liquid can drain into a drip pan beneath the bin. Otherwise, you may permanently stain the floor beneath the bin. Raise the bin above the drip pan in some way - anything will due, such as small wooden blocks.

Do not use the Worm Tea straight from the worm bin. It must be diluted with water, and requires other modifications to become compost tea. Do not use tap water unless it has sat in an open vessel for a couple of days as the chlorine will kill the beneficial bacteria rendering the compost tea useless. WikiHow has an excellent article on how to make amazing Compost Tea. Again, do not use the liquid leachate directly from the worm bin. Follow the advice on the WikiHow page we have linked here, and you should have excellent results. 

 

You are now an honorary Decker Worm Sales Composting expert! Make sure to bookmark this website and continue to purchase worms as you need them. And be sure to recommend us to your friends and neighbors! 

 

We have a quick summary below as a final reminder on what to feed your earthworms, as well as what you should avoid. 

© 2018 Decker Worm Sales

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