I have been composting for years. There are many things I can say about the many benefits of composting. But, for me, it's simply a great way to get good, free soil. And, when you aspire to have an entire yard full of beautiful things other than red clay, good, free soil is very good thing.
The problem? I have been warned by several fellow beekeepers, who have been beekeeping for a lot longer than I have, that composting and beekeeping don't mix. Composting leads to higher levels of bugs, namely small hive beetles, which are a major pest. If left unchecked, they can kill a strong colony of bees. So, what's an avid composter, lover of free dirt, to do? Get worms.
I have been putting this off for years. I have always thought it would be fun to do with the kids. But, I have been
- 3 10-gallon dark plastic storage bins ($5 each for Sterilite brand.)
- Drill with 1/4 inch and 1/16 inch bits
- 2 packages of Red Wigglers (or Eisenia Foetida for you science people) from Angler's Corner in Doraville. They are $5 per package. Ideally, you want 1/2 to 1 pound. I have no idea how much I bought. Two packages seemed like a good start. You can also buy them online for a small fortune. Your best bet is to Google for them in your area. Regular garden worms are not suitable for vermicomposting.
- Food scraps
|Three 10 gallon bins.|
|Drill about 20 1/4 inch holes around the bottom of two of the bins.|
|Now, drill 1/16 inch holes all over one of the tops. Again, do as I say, not as I do.|
--> At this point, you should have three bins. One bin still has a solid bottom. Two bins have holes drilled into the bottoms. One lid has ventilation holes drilled into it.
|Take one of the bins with holes drilled into the bottom and fill it about 6 inches high with 1-inch strips of newspaper, fluffed up.|
|Wet with water and squeeze excess out. Re-fluff. (That is the technical term.) Add some leaves to the mix if you want.|
|Add your Red Wigglers to the damp newspaper/leaves. My worms came packed in this soil mix. I added both the worms and the soil mix to the newspaper/leaf mix so they would feel right at home.|
|Cover the whole bin with a damp piece of cardboard.|
- Place the bin outside in the shade or, get this, in your house under the kitchen sink, in the laundry room or basement or in the garage. Composting doesn't get much more convenient than that!
- Feed your worms. You do this by burying the food scraps. Each week, bury the scraps in a new area of the bedding and cover it back up with cardboard.
- When the container is full and food scraps can no longer be seen in the bedding, it is time to introduce the third bin. Add newspaper bedding in this container like you did when you set up your original bins. Now, place this inside the bin that currently contains the worms right on top of the worms and bedding mix. Add new scraps into the new bin. The worms will migrate from the old bin into this new bin through the holes drilled into the bottom. The black/brown stuff left in the original bin is what you are after- vermicompost, worm castings, "black gold."
- The liquid, or worm tea, that is in the bottom container is also excellent to use in your garden.
- Vegetable and fruit scraps (You do not need to chop these up. That is the whole point of letting the worms do the work!)
- Tea bags (not the plastic ones!) and coffee ground and filters
- Crushed egg shells
What do you do if your worms try to escape the first night like mine did?
- Check your bedding. It may be too wet or too dry. Or, they need more bedding. Or, if the bedding is all used up and all you see is black/brown vermicompost/castings, it's time to harvest. Worms don't like living in their castings.
- Add a light to keep them contained. Worms live in the soil. They don't like light. I placed the bin under the outside light and left it on all night and they got the point and settled down.