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Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2009 4:29 am
Location: Riverside, Ca

How to start worm compost?

So how do I start a wormcompost, that's not to complicated and expensive? do I need to get a box? We live in Zone 9/10, so it gets pretty ( dry)hot in the summer. Can I leave the worms outside? Or do I have to take them inside? It always cools down at night.

Greener Thumb
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Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2008 10:26 am
Location: North Carolina

I remember an old timer that had horses and he would shovel and pile the manure in a heap and when he went fishing he dig around in the pile and get as many worms as he desired. Composting is turning the pile so it breaks down and making sure it gets mositure. Nothing fancy but you might have criters around that's why people have them enclosed. Nothing specific it all depends upon your needs.

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Location: Central Sand Hills South Carolina

You can start worm composting by simply tossing table scraps and other organic matter on the ground, keeping the material moist, and perhaps covering it with a board or some kind of sheeting material. I think worm composting works best in some kind of container which can be as simple as a sturdy plastic box with a lid and a few drainage holes. Here in S.C. temperatures get up to 100 degrees and my worm box which is located in the shade, seems to provide a decent environment for the worms. IMO is is good to have some loose organic matter like leaves or straw to help inuslate the bed and protect from extreme temperature changes. Also the dry material helps absorb excess moisture. It is best to have the worm box or worm bed in a shady location here in the south, though sunny days are good for the worms during the cold months. I don't see any reason why a person couldn't start up a worm composting bin for a cost as little as $5 for the box. Everything else should be free, if you get a few local worms from the ground. Even the container can be free if you find a used container that would serve as the worm composting box.

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I was at a saw mill recently, and in a pile of junk I saw an old cast iron tub and thought that would make a nice worm bin.

Greener Thumb
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Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2008 1:15 am
Location: Ventura County, CA, Sunset 23

links and thoughts

A little information from a local source (scroll down some for the worms)

From Missouri I think

From the folks who seem to know the most on composting in general

Using non-native worms or importing worms seems to be an issue for glacial north america. I don't think it's an issue for non-glacial places like LA but I wonder sometimes if we really need any more imports.

I'm about half a degree latitude north and 2 degrees longitude west from you I figure. Riverside I believe gets hotter in the summer and the higher altitude ensures it gets colder in the winter. My thoughts for a worm bin were to keep it in the garage out of the sun and the wind and the extremes. I'm betting that would work for you too.

If we stray from the strict confines of a worm bin, you could just push 4 pallets together secured with bailing wire to form a box open top and bottom. Let the bottom rest on the bare ground or on pavers sitting on the bare ground (keeps the tree roots and the burrowing critters out). Fill the bottom with with browns (dry woody stuff like leaves and wood chips - bark chips will take far too long to break down so avoid them unless you like the challenge). Add the standard compost mix of greens and browns in a slow as you go method with what you have on hand. Keep moist. Cover the top from sun, wind and rain. when you build it, the worms will come. Big time when the rainy season comes and the worms are looking for an unsaturated refuse from the very saturated ground. As long as you keep that sucker from drying out, it will be full of worms in 6 months or so. You will find that as you add, the bin contents will reduce in volume so it could be almost forever filled with your regular refills. You will have lots of worms until stuff finishes.

The worms you end up with will be native or at least naturalized and not imported. They will leave their cocoons so as you spread your compost you will spread fun happy worms.

With the worm population of a 3 x 3 x 3 pallet bin, you will have enough worms to start any happy worm bin you like when you're ready. Pallets free, worms free, worm food free. Very low labor. What's not to like?

Keep moist. Keep out of sun and wind to help moisture levels and temperatures from getting too hot.

An interesting little thing on raising worms - fast.

I don't have a worm bin. I'm only thinking about it. I have pallet bins on pavers as described above. We get desert winds and the marine layer but overall we're on the dry side. Build it and they will come.

two cents

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