Two weeks ago the Cultivating Community team recieved a package containing a wrigging mass of worms. We ordered four pounds of red wigglers (Eisenia fetida) from Flowerfield Enterprises which is based out of Kalamazoo. The worm woman, Mary Appelhof founded the business to further educate and provide people with the means to start vermicomposting for themselves. She wrote Worms Eat My Garbage a comprehensive how to guide for people desiring to start "worm wrangling". We use her book as a reference guide on the handling and housing requirements for the worms. We followed her bin specifications to handle the scraps of a single person as well as a small group of individuals. The smallest bin volumes were reserved for those that lived on their own while the larger bins were for two to three people, maybe more if the group did not produce that much food scraps that the worms could eat. We made up containers and divided up the worms by weight into the bins that we then gave away at the vermicomposting workshop we held last Wednesday. The bed preparation went as follows:
We used shredded computer paper for the worm bedding and lined the bottom of the bins with it. Other materials that can be used for the bedding are newspaper, leaf mold, animal manures, coconut fibers, woodchips, and peat moss. We picked computer paper because it was already shredded and in amble supply in the Garden's recycling baskets. The bedding functions to hold moisture, and provide a medium for the worms to move and eat.
We then added small rocks and sand to each bin to give the worms "grit". Worms do not have teeth and because of this they need a hard and fine material to use in their gizzard to break down food so it is digestable. We put finished compost into the bins to increase the bedding volume and to inoculate the containers with the microbial community found in the soil. The worms work in tandem with other organisms in the soil to decompose food scraps.
Many came for the workshop, and took bins for themselves. If you are interested in starting your own worm bin or have a bin, but lack experience Worms Eat My Garbage is a fantastic reference. Be sure to visit Appelhof's website here for tips and as a source to order your own crawly critters.