The Care and Culture of Red Wrigglers
Stepping into vermicomposting is a fun way to make use of the scraps from your table. Red wrigglers are the worms generally used for this, and their care is simple as long as you take a few precautions. Culturing worms is easier than you think, so let’s give you a quick rundown on the whole process.
You’ll want a couple of pounds of worms to get started, but you can’t just lay them anywhere. That would be pure madness. It would also be quite unhealthy for the worms, so try not to do that if at all possible.
Instead, you need to give your joint-lacking friends some bedding and a place where you can feed them. There’s a lot of great, pre-built units on the market but if you’re DIY inclined the whole thing is pretty simple.
You’ll want to make something that air can circulate through in order to contain them without allowing them to escape. Eighth inch holes in the side of your designated container should do you pretty well. Stick some holes in the bottom of the container as well, you don’t want your waste-recycling worms to drown either.
You’ll need some kind of initial bedding as well, most people recommend using shredded newspaper. You’ll want to wet it a little bit initially, to keep humidity levels high enough to sustain them. Place your bin wherever it’s headed, drop your worms in, and soon enough you’ll have a sustainable colony that can recycle waste into compost.
You’ll need to be careful about what you feed your worms, unfortunately they can’t eat everything and some things can actually be quite harmful to them. Causing a die-off is probably the quickest way to turn someone off of vermicomposting, it will smell absolutely terrible and makes a horrible mess.
In general, you’ll want to feed them vegetable scraps. Fruit is also alright, but the addition of a large amount of citrus will horribly mess up the soil pH which can lead to unhealthy worms and the peels are absolutely not acceptable as food for your squirmy buddies.
Do not, under any circumstances, add the following items:
- Heavily salted table scraps
- Scraps high in sugar
Some of these items will just smell up the bin, which is unfortunate but not dangerous to your worms. Your nose won’t appreciate it though and neither will your neighbors if you live in close quarters with them. Others have a chance to start the die-off we talked about earlier, which is unfortunate for both you and the worms.
Maintaining Your Colony
All you really need to do at this point is add the food to the top of the bin and observe your worms behavior. Within a few months, the castings will be available in large enough amounts to be used as high-grade fertilizer in the garden and you can rest easy knowing you’re doing your part to reduce waste.
It’s important to only add food to the top, burying it in the soil can raise the temperature to dangerous levels due to the nature of decomposition.
People with the head for chemistry may also want to purchase a test kit for their soil. In theory the perfect pH for their care is completely neutral, a solid 7.0 and if things start to stray too far your worms are in danger.
As long as you have enough space for your worms though, you’re well on your way to a happy, productive colony which will soon be growing and providing you with some of the best fertilizer you can find anywhere. It’s a rewarding task for those who undertake it, and as you can see it’s rather simple.