I recently started growing microgreens and saw an article about how you can vermicompost the left over roots and soil to make new soil for growing your microgreens and the process is a lot faster than regular composting. I'm interested but have no experience with vermicomposting. I'm hoping once you get past the learning curve it's not hard. Does anyone have advice on where to get supplies, how to get started, tips, pitfalls to avoid, that sort of thing. Thanks :)


  • kbmbillups1
    kbmbillups1 Posts: 1,272 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I asked questions about this last year and @greyfurball had good advice. I bought my worms from which she suggested. I watched quite a few youtube videos and with her advice gave it a try. I now have 2 bins of worms!! It's not hard at all. I started out with 2 cat litter buckets one inside the other to catch the veggie juice. Then, I decided to try to make my own 3 bin drawer set up with a 3 drawer organizer. It's worked but not they way I wanted. I'm still trying to get all of the worms in the top drawer.

    I feed them once a week sometimes twice with a large bag of veggie and fruit scraps. The smaller you cut them the faster they gobble them up. I cover it with the recyclable stuff that insulates my Butcherbox boxes and then cover that with a layer of dirt. I've found that that keeps flies and other bugs from finding the goodies too.

    When I start a drawer I put a single layer of brown paper bag on the bottom of the drawer so the dirt doesn't fall through the holes until later. I cover that with some dirt and compost, some egg shells, and then veggie and fruit scraps, worms from my other drawer, recyclable stuff from my Butcherbox (you could use cardboard or newspaper) and then a layer of dirt. What I've found is helpful is to just scrape off the dirt when I get ready to feed them again. Pull up the Butcherbox stuff/cardboard and then evenly fill it with more scraps and recover with both. Just know if you use cardboard or newspaper it will be devoured pretty quickly. I've had worms hanging from it when I've taken that layer out to to add more scraps before I started using the other. I only started using the stuff from my Butchboxes b/c I figured why not since I had it.

    If you're making your own don't forget to drill air holes.

    Good luck! I love showing everyone my worms. Some people think I'm crazy but I don't care!

  • OhiohillsLouise
    OhiohillsLouise Posts: 120 ✭✭✭

    There are lots of YouTube videos on the subject. I’ve had composting worms (red wigglers) close to 10 years. I use shredded moistened newspaper (you can also use coconut coir, straw, or similar) on the bottom. Then layer with the vegetable matter, coffee grounds, egg shell mix. Allow to sit for a few days before adding the worms. I never add dirt. Do not allow to dry out, if necessary mist with water but my scraps seem to be enough moisture. I do like to keep a moist piece of corrugated cardboard on top. I just lift it when time to add a layer of food (no need for egg shell after the first). The worms will start off slow but will eventually start gobbling up the food like crazy.

    while chopped up food seems to be is fun to put in a large piece of something like a split squash or cantaloupe, rind side up. Lift the squash and see all the worms! Fun to show kids, yes I’m crazy too @kbmbillups1


  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 1,937 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I would love to do this, but need a warm place to keep them over the winter. It gets too cold here to leave them outside.

  • gardneto76
    gardneto76 Posts: 528 ✭✭✭✭

    @vickeym I have to keep min inside during the summer months. If it is kept balanced it doesn’t smell. The key to no smell is burry the scraps you add. I have 1 tray and I rotate feedings from side to side, so I can harvest the worm castings. I wait about a month of feeding only on one side, before harvesting the castings from the other side. Then I add new coconut coir & food. Repeat as needed.

  • herbantherapy
    herbantherapy Posts: 453 ✭✭✭✭
    edited August 2020

    Is there a better time of year to start a worm bin outside? Spring/Fall etc?? Or a temperature range?

  • annbeck62
    annbeck62 Posts: 980 ✭✭✭✭

    Thank you all for your encouragement! And so the adventure begins! I decided to make my own bin and over the weekend purchased a container and drilled the air holes. Today I'll start preparing the bed then I'll order my worms. Since it's so hot where I live, I'll have to keep them inside for now, a little nervous about that even though I'm sure it will be fine. I'm sure I'll have questions as I go, grateful to have a supportive community with answers :)

  • happy-trails
    happy-trails Posts: 170 ✭✭✭

    I would recommend an inexpensive set-up like 2 plastic tote bins with holes drilled in the bottom of one for drainage and along the rim for breathing holes. Does that make sense? I've seen videos on YouTube that clearly walk you through the process. My friend has huge success doing it this way. Very practical and inexpensive.

    If anyone has advice on the following, I'd appreciate it! My husband does not want the worm bin inside, so would it be ok to leave the worm bin in the garage during winter? I live in upstate NY, so my concern is that the poor wormies would freeze. The temperatures can get stay in the 30's and even down into the negative temps. Once the bin has been established a while, how many pounds of castings could I expect to harvest per month?

  • Angel
    Angel Posts: 61 ✭✭✭

    It should be ok in the garage, as it shouldn't get cold enough to freeze in there. I would keep it close to the interior wall, away from the doors, so it stays warmer.

    I personally don't harvest worm castings every month, but if your bin was big enough, you probably could. I do more of a big harvest in the spring and another in the fall. I don't have a huge set-up, though. (I plan to build another worm bin soon to help get more compost!)

  • moreyshadypines
    moreyshadypines Posts: 72 ✭✭✭

    @happy-trails the rule of thumb for worm temperatures is, basically they like what you like. If its 40 degrees in the garage, your worms with either die or be so cold they will not be able to make any compost. It also depends on what size container. If it is large enough, they will ball up in the middle to survive. @gardneto76 stated there is no odor. She is correct, if you don't overfeed, and bury the scraps you will never smell them. I have had a worm farm in my office for over 15 years. No one has ever noticed them unless I point them out. No barking, no toys on the floor - very user friendly pets. I have a larger group worm bed, 250 gallon, I wrapped insulation around it. I am in SC, but we get a couple of weeks of below zero weather. I have a large spinning composter - the black ones, the worms thrived in spite of the exposure to heat and cold. They are pretty durable, but within reason. I used plastic, like a mini green house to protect them as well.

    @happy-trails asked about the return. I have trays (6" deep, 22' x 36") I process them every 4-6 months. The return is about a wash pail full of castings. I separate the worms out, so they can begin life again in a new tray. I put the castings back a tray to dry, I continue to stir them, it takes a while. That is the beauty of them, so to speak, they retain moisture. When they are completely dry, you can tell by the color, they turn from dark soil to light grey and they are 10x lighter 🙂. I keep them for when I am starting a new bed or adding to an old one. If you don't dry them completely, they will get moldy. I know some people keep them moist. I don't have the control for that.

    Hope this helps.

  • OhiohillsLouise
    OhiohillsLouise Posts: 120 ✭✭✭

    @happy-trails when moving to a new house one of my worm bins got left outside under my deck against the foundation of the house. In the spring I didn’t expect to find any live worms, they only had the food and shredded newspaper from a few months earlier. They were sheltered but still endured a central Ohio winter. There were enough live worm to start a fresh bin and the compost was beautiful. I don’t recommend doing this but with shelter and some insulation your worms may survive outside in the garage.

  • AngelaOston
    AngelaOston Posts: 247 ✭✭✭

    ido this exact thing all winter. I find that the straight worm compost is too dense for sprouting. So im continually adding in pete moss or coconut choir together with the worm casting. I do get some worms in the sprouting trays. But it isn’t a problem for me. When im done sprouting just goes right back into the top of the worm bin

  • AngelaOston
    AngelaOston Posts: 247 ✭✭✭
  • AngelaOston
    AngelaOston Posts: 247 ✭✭✭

    Use 10 by 10 trays. Easier to manage than the standard commercial 10 by 20

  • gardneto76
    gardneto76 Posts: 528 ✭✭✭✭

    Another key tip is be prepared for your worms to multiply! If they are happy they will lay eggs and re-populate their environment. I have had to thin out or remove one of my worms. This was no problem as I just gave some to my chickens, threw a handful into each garden bed, and fed a few to my fish.

    Something else to consider is containers. When I started mine I purchased 2 trays, thinking I would just go buy another one when I needed it. Well when I went back to the store, they no longer carried that tray. So I bought 2 similar trays, but they ended up not stacking together perfectly. My point.. if you are going to make your own out of plastic totes, buy all the trays you want up front. I also ended up putting a 2x4 in my drip tray as the worm bed got so heavy once it started drooping and slipping down. It does not interfere with the ability to drain. I feed lots of melon scraps so we get LOTS of worm tea.

  • Hassena
    Hassena Posts: 345 ✭✭✭

    Worms are amazing! The bins only smell if something's wrong. Food not buried or too much at one time

    Best roommates I've ever had. 😁

    If you have a blender, the food scraps can be blended up and the worms eat it a lot faster.

  • kbmbillups1
    kbmbillups1 Posts: 1,272 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @OhiohillsLouise Last week when I was feeding my worms I gave them a whole peach. It had started to go bad so I figured why not see what they do with it. Yesterday I fed them again and when I picked up what was left of the peach with my shovel there were so many worms hanging out if it - it looked like spaghetti. Wish I'd had someone to show it to. 😁

  • frogvalley
    frogvalley Posts: 675 ✭✭✭✭

    @kbmbillups1 I would love to see pictures of that. If you can take them and upload them, that would be great! We took a class several years ago and were terrible worm farmers. A friend of mine collected containers that we were going to use to start growing them again, but life got in the way. Guess I should try it once more.

  • kbmbillups1
    kbmbillups1 Posts: 1,272 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @frogvalley I've tried taking pics of them before but they're so fast to go for cover that I never end of with a good pic. I'll give it a try again though. I put a whole sweet potato in my second worm drawer yesterday. Hopefully I can get a pic of them munching away on it next week.

  • OhiohillsLouise
    OhiohillsLouise Posts: 120 ✭✭✭

    @gardneto76 do you have worm tea or leachate? Here is a good explanation

    Your bins might be too wet, shredded newspaper, cardboard, or other dry matter can help resolve that situation.

  • karen
    karen Posts: 80 ✭✭

    I know people will 'hate' me' LOL but I live in Sountern Ecuador in the ANdes. I can garden year round. so, that applies to worms as well. Once compost is added on top of the rocky soil the worms appear. I actually have ten times as many little red worms as earth worms. I just throw them in the compost holding pail. Of course if I do the fast hot compost in the big bin most of the worms will die but i keep hoping they just move on!

  • gardneto76
    gardneto76 Posts: 528 ✭✭✭✭

    @OhiohillsLouise I guess it is not worm tea as I have not been brewing the castings in water. I have holes in the bottom of my bin to let the extra liquid drip down on its own and prevent the bed itself from getting to wet.

    @monica197 I have had issues 1 time with some flies in the worm bin. I have never had bad smells though. With the flies we just waited for them to live their cycle. Picked as many out as I could for a few weeks and they quickly disappeared. I also got my red wrigglers from Uncle Jim’s.

    for those asking about separating them, the easiest thing to do it put all of their food on one side. The worms will migrate ward the food. You then harvest the castings from the other side. Like the casting into a hill. Pull from the sides of the hill. The worms will burrow toward the middle. When you make it to the bottom of the hill the worms will be there. I just put them back into the bed and use the castings. I have learned to watch for eggs as well. I place those back into the worm bed and/or garden beds.

  • maimover
    maimover Posts: 359 ✭✭✭

    I also grabbed an old cooler from curbside that was mussing the plug and thought it wired be good for a worm bin.

  • annflancan
    annflancan Posts: 84 ✭✭✭

    I take care of the worm bin at my community garden. When we invite the school kids over it is so fun to watch their little faces light up when they see the worms burrowing into the watermelon. Also love seeing them squish up their faces and and hear them say "EEEWWWW" when I tell them they are holding worm poop in their hands!