Posts Tagged ‘vermicompost’

There are several things to keep in mind when setting up your composting station:

  • Sun or shade?

A worm bin is best placed in the shade. The worms will not fare well in hot temperatures or during a deluge of water during a rainstorm. By placing them in the shade, they will be more protected from the elements and less likely to dry out.

As for a regular compost bin, direct sunlight does not cause the compost pile to heat up. The microbes working busily inside the compost are why the pile heats up. With this in mind, keeping your compost bin in the shade will decrease water evaporation. Also, people are more likely to turn their pile if they do not have to go out into the hot sun to do it.

  • Dirt or cement?

For a compost bin, it is best if it is placed on the dirt. This allows the beneficial insects to crawl up into the bin.  These insects will speed up the decomposition process and are naturally occur in a healthy compost pile. Put hardware cloth or wire mesh underneath the compost bin to prevent the larger animals from digging underneath and into the bin. If a compost pile is set on cement, it is likely that the cement will be stained.

For a worm bin, it does not matter if it is placed on cement or on dirt. It is more important that the bin is in the shade. People often even keep worm bins inside their garage, under their counter, or in a closet.

  • How close do I want my compost bin to the house?

Most people do not want to put their compost bin directly up against their house because of smell and pest attraction fears. If you are composting correctly, neither of these problems should be of issue. How close you put your bin to your house should more so be determined by hose length (if your bin is further away than your hose is long, you’ll be lugging buckets over to your pile!) and ease of use. If you don’t see yourself hoofing it across the yard to dump out your kitchen scraps, then you probably shouldn’t put your bin all the way across your yard. As for the pests and smells, err on the side of caution. If something goes wrong in your pile and it starts to smell or you get an unwanted visitor, it’s better away from your house than directly under your kitchen window.

  • How much room will my compost bin need?

If you plan on being an active composter and turning your compost pile, it is important that you have a space twice the size of your compost bin. This allows you to turn and then rebuild your bin directly next to where it was previously sitting. Turing your bin increases air flow and allows the microbes to break down the material more quickly. If you plan on having a more passive bin, this is obviously not necessary, though you probably want a little room around the bin so it can be accessed from all angles. Worm bins, on the other hand, do not need extra space.


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Redwiggler1The City of San Diego provides a convenient list of recommended locations to purchase worms. If you are starting a Wriggly Wranch Worm Bin, you will need about 1 lb. of worms. The type of worms you need are “red wigglers” or “red worms” (eisenia foetida). If you have any questions about getting started call the Solana Center “Rotline” at 760-436-7986 ext. 222 or email the “Rotline” at compost@solanacenter.org.

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Smaller pieces will break down faster in your compost bin.

Smaller pieces will break down faster in your compost bin or worm bin.

Shredding and grinding materials speeds up the process of composting. Smaller pieces will break down faster in your pile because it increases the surface area. This makes the material easier for bacteria to break down the material. You do not have to shred or grind your materials. The process will just take longer.

If you would like to speed up the decomposition process in your bin, here are some shredding/grinding suggestions from our Master Composters.

  • For outdoor materials place clippings in a large bucket and then use hedge sheers to chop the material before adding to the compost bin. Augers are also a helpful tool for shredding materials. For large pieces, like tree branches, chipper/shredders can be very helpful.
  • For kitchen scraps our Master Composters suggest simply chopping up scraps with a knife before adding them to your compost bin or worm bin. Some of our Master Composters take it step further and blend their scraps in a blender before adding the materials to the bin.

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potworms_e_doerjesiSometimes mistaken as baby red worms these worms are commonly called “pot worms”. These small white worms often found in worm bins are not harmful to you or your red wigglers. They are part of the eco- system of your bin and eat decaying matter just like your red wigglers.

If you are inclined to reduce their population, try making your bin a bit dryer as they prefer wetter conditions. Add some dry shredded paper or paper towels, shredded coconut coir, or dried peat moss (whatever you have available). Pot worms also tend to prefer more acidic environments so check on what type of materials you are adding.

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Learn how worms can help you save money, conserve water, and save the environment!

Learn how to make your own vermicompost at this FREE workshop!

Learn how to make your own vermicompost at this FREE workshop!

Saturday, February 21st
10 a.m. to 12 noon

Quail Botanical Gardens
230 Quail Gardens Drive
Encinitas, CA

* Worms and a limited number of bins will be available for purchase after the workshop.

Click here for more information or to pre-register.

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Vermicompost can be used as a fertilizer and pesticide in your garden. The Complete Compost Gardening Guide by Barbara Pleasant and Deborah Martin suggests 5 uses for vermicompost:

1. Add to potting soil. Use a ratio of about 15-20% vermicompost to 80-85% potting soil.

2. Topdress houseplants. Apply a 1/4 in. deep layer over the surface or mix it into the surface of houseplant containers that are too awkward to replant.

3. Rejuvenate containers. Apply vermicompost to containers to encourage new growth.

4. Topdress beds. Tuck handfuls under mulch or scatter a thin layer over the soil’s surface to help your vegetables grow all year.

5. Prepare planting holes. Mix a handful of vermicompost into the soil to stimulate rapid rooting.

Learn more about vermicomposting at the FREE Vermicomposting Workshop this Saturday at Quail Botanical Gardens in Encinitas. Click here for more information.

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