Bedding, Feeding, & Cultivation
Now that you've started a compost system, your thousands of new pets need fed, watered, bedded and pampered. The better you care for their needs, the more they will do for you.
Cut up cardboard
Aged, moist wood chips
> From the home:
Almost all fruits and vegetables, with the exception of onions, garlic and banana skins
Grass clippings & garden debris
> From the farm:
- Chopped hay
- Manure from cows, horses (non-dewormed), aplacas, goats, rabbits, and chickens
- Milk products (due to spoiling/stench)
- Meats (due to spoiling/stench)
- Dog and cat feces (contain harmful pathogens)
Cultivating Your Compost:
Layer your compost with food waste and bedding. Otherwise, the compost will not be able to compress as the Redworms work through it. The speed of your compost breaking down is affected by the moisture, temperature, available air, and bedding materials.
Cutting Up Your Food Waste:
Red worms are secondary eaters, meaning they consume softened organic material left after microorganisms break down larger food waste. Most fruits and vegetables have a protective skin to keep mold and bacteria out, prolonging decomposition. Cutting them up drastically increases breakdown speed, giving bacteria and fungi more surface area to flourish. This creates the perfect biodiverse environment for your worms to thrive.
Personally, I use a leaf shredder that works great for chopping up food waste. If one shreds a large amount of fruit and vegetables without mixing it evenly into the bedding, it will become anaerobic and start to sour. Often to the point of turning into vinegar or ammonia. When this happens you will not find any red worms in the mix. This can be prevented and/or fixed with a good bedding mixture.
Keeping an Eye:
Check on your worms regularly, to get a feel for their normal behaviors. They may move through the bins independently, avoiding groups unless mating. If they seem to be avoiding a certain area, something could be wrong with that section of the compost. There may be spoiling food that needs removed or a bacterial imbalance. Catching this early will prevent adverse effects on the health of your worms.
The bottom of your compost turning dark brown or black is an indicator that your vermicompost is ready to be harvested.