Our plan for this Spring is to start a vegetable garden – nothing outrageous, just a little garden with a couple of veggies to get our toes wet. Neither of us has ever had a real garden before so we’re starting slow. Our end goal is to be growing at least 50-70% of our food right here at home… But we’re a long way from that goal. For now, we’re prepping our beds for Spring planting. Luckily for us, we’re on the Gulf Coast of Texas, where historically speaking winters are pretty mild and working outdoors is probably easier to do in winter than in the height of summer.
We purchased some seeds online. Planned where our beds are going to go. Sourced some incredible dirt. And ordered some worms from Amazon.com… You know… the usual!
What’s that? You say you’re surprised about the worms? While researching soil and composting I kept reading more and more about vermicomposting. I remember a friend of mine used to have a vermicompost bin under the sink in her kitchen (in the UK) and she always said it was super easy to keep up, not smelly, reduces trash, but I don’t think she ever used the compost – that I was aware of.
The basic theory behind vermicomposting is this:
You add a combination of carbon and nitrogen to your worm bin, the worms eat it, the worms poop, the poop is AWESOME in gardens. The end.
Pretty basic right?
How to Get Started Vermicomposting
2) You throw in equal parts carbon (brown stuff) and nitrogen (green stuff). I use cardboard, newspaper, dry veggie/fruit scraps, dryer lint, coffee and tea granules
3) You leave it to sit for a couple of weeks so the brown stuff and green stuff can start rotting and breaking down.
4) Your worms arrive and you dig a hole in the side, pour them in, add water* to the bin, close it up and walk away.
* Important to note that you don’t add a LOT of water, just enough to call the soil/dirt damp.
Important Vermicomposting Tips:
1) Don’t over-water. The contents need to be damp, but not wet.
2) Avoid adding citrus, garlic or onions to the bin. Worms don’t like these foods, but they will eat them if they have to.
3) Go lightly with things like tea and coffee grounds, fruit, veggies, egg shells, and banana peels – they like these, but in moderation.
4) DO NOT ADD: Animal (meat) or dairy products, oily or salty things, grass clippings and anything inorganic. (Duh!)
5) Always dig a hole and bury new additions to the bin, but avoid “tossing the salad” with the bin. Mixing your browns and greens up too much is actually a bad thing. Dig a hole, dump the new stuff, and close the hole. Also, be sure to dig in a different location with each new addition.
Here’s how my little guys looked when I tipped them out of their sack. I ordered 1lb of European Nightcrawlers. There are really two good options for vermicomposting worms here in the United States, Red Wigglers, or European Nightcrawlers. I believe the Euros are better with extreme temps, (we’re in Texas y’all), and are really good for fishing — which we do a lot. So for us they were the best fit.
It is not uncommon for them to arrive in the mail skinny and small as you see above. But after adding them to the bin and sprinkling with water they swelled up pretty quickly. Based on my experience with them, and the incredible reviews on Amazon, I highly recommend Uncle Jim’s worms. (Plus it’s kinda cool to receive a box of worms in the mail).
Here’s an updated picture taken today – Obviously they’re not all near the surface anymore. They’re buried deep down in the “schmutz”and that’s what you want. The deeper they dig, the more of the older rotting stuff they’re working on. We still have a BUNCH of them in there — I don’t think we’ve lost any/many at all. Well.. you know… aside from the ones we’ve pulled for the chickens. Our ladies really LOVE their wormy treats!
How do you feel about keeping a bin of worms around your home? Do you have any questions for me about my bin? Let me know in the comments below.