citylights
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Are there any drawbacks to VERMICOMPOSTING?

I'm interested in starting a vermicomposting bin Indoors but i wanted to be made aware of any drawbacks before making a commitment.

One of the primary things i am worried about is PESTS. Will Vermicomposting attract any insects considering it is indoors?


Please share your experiences thanks!
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!potatoes!
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i've had my bins inside for a couple years, never had any pest problems.

Toil
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you can get fungus gnats or fruit flies if you are not careful. currently, I have what looks like predatory gnats living in my bins, and since they showed up I haven't seen any gnats.
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martoosaat
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... Does an indoor worm bin smell? My apartment mates might throttle me... my guess is you all have a nice basement or shed to put it in.

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!potatoes!
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nope, mine is in my kitchen...

citylights
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Toil wrote:you can get fungus gnats or fruit flies if you are not careful. currently, I have what looks like predatory gnats living in my bins, and since they showed up I haven't seen any gnats.
What do predatory gnats look like? And are there any other insects? and where do you keep your bin?
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citylights
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!potatoes! wrote:nope, mine is in my kitchen...
where do you keep it in your kitchen? inside a cupboard? and do you get any pests like fruit flies or gnats?
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martoosaat wrote:... Does an indoor worm bin smell? My apartment mates might throttle me... my guess is you all have a nice basement or shed to put it in.
I usually keep mine in my shed outside so that it's easily accessible to the garden. Since I just started a new one with red wrigglers, that one is inside my kitchen on my counter. It doesn't smell bad and when I used to keep my vermicompost inside I didn't have any problems with pests.

The key is to keep a layer of soil over the composting material and balance what goes into it. I'm not sure if you've heard of the greens vs browns, but you can find more about that in a lot of threads here. The layer of soil overtop will stop fruit flies from finding and laying eggs in your compost material, because they don't burrow.

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yeah, but if you put a raw banana peel in there it doesn't matter if you have it covered.

always freeze those banana peels!
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Toil wrote:yeah, but if you put a raw banana peel in there it doesn't matter if you have it covered.

always freeze those banana peels!
That's true. I had posted my advice based on the assumption that everything going into the compost pile doesn't already have pests on it. Freezing banana peels and otherfruits will kill any eggs that have already been laid on it. If there are already fruitfly eggs on the compost it might be possible for the bugs to survive and break through to layer of soil on top.

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OK, I don't want to discourage anybody here. So straight up with a caveat -- I'm NEW AT THIS. Started my vermicomposter late last fall with worms from my own compost pile outside.

That means I probably brought in eggs and larvae of insects in with the worms.

I have my worm bin in the kitchen next to the sink. (Yeah, doesn't make for a beautiful kitchen, but what the hey. Like I said, I'm new at this, and wanted it close by so it wouldn't turn into failure by neglect.). I did have an outbreak of fruit flies and fungus gnats. Some other bugs. But fruit flies are easy to control. It's the fungus gnats I have problems eradicating.

When I open the lid, I have my vacuum cleaner standing by with the wand out. I start the vacuum, open the lid a little bit, and insert the hose. After a bit, I can open the lid wider and vacuum up any flying insect. Any fruit flies that I miss will inevitably land on the shiniest, lightest colored vertical surface. Vacuum those up. That's it. Whatever they have on their little feet, fungus gnats hold on better than fruit flies, and don't always fly up when disturbed. They tend to scurry into the darkest corner.

Home made fruit fly traps takes care of the rest so fruit fly problems are short lived. In any case, fruit flies probably originated with produce from the store, not the vermicomposter. I almost always have fruit fly outbreak in the house some time in late winter/early spring.

I'm getting ready to move my worm bin outside. I've realized that once the weather warms, it'll get too hot in the house -- upper 70's -- to keep the bin indoors (Not for the worms but for the purpose of minimizing odor and mold outbreaks. Also, I'll be outside practically every day, so putting kitchen scraps in the compost pile is more convenient than saving some for the worms).

Right timing might be when the tomato seedlings are planted out (I'm looking for most night temps at 50ºF or more) ... or do you think the wormbin could go out earlier? The worms in the soil have been active, pushing up castings, since surface soil temp warmed up to seed potato planting time (55ºF)

I think it'll get too hot outside for the worms in the bin during high summer. I may have to dismantle it altogether by then.

I'm seriously thinking of only maintaining the vermicompost bin from late fall~spring when it's more convenient not to have to take kitchen scraps out to the compost pile. I want to fine-tune my technique so I'll have finished worm compost to harvest starting around February when my main warm-weather seed starting operation kicks in.

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yeah I had the same problem until the little teeny tiny gnats showed up. They look like the little spray at the top of a glass of soda pop. They really like little nooks where worms crawl and leave castings but no foodstock Before that, even though the bin was in the basement the windows upstairs were thick with fungus gnats. On the bright side, my carnivorous plants feasted, and this year they are quite vigorous.

I figured the worm bin bag would stop them, but they actually bred faster. I think it was the little gnats. Or maybe any of the really nasty looking critters I see in my microscope.

Then again I also feed bokashi now, which is probably too sour for the gnat eggs. So I guess I shouldn't jump to conclusions. Either way, I am gnat free, and there are just a few in the house from the houseplants. But the sundews have to eat, you know?
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Also, I'm new with the vermicomposting thing and experimenting. Other than gnats, I haven't had any problems. No foul smell, no sign of fruit flies, no worm die-off. I keep an 18-gallon bin with red wigglers and Carolina red worms on the back porch, in the shade.

When I initially set it up, which was just before Spring, the worms tried to flee. I put down more bedding in the bottom to cool it off. Haven't had any try to escape since and surprisingly, it doesn't smell. The gnats could be a problem, but since I don't keep the bin inside, I'm not terribly worried about it.
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Where do you get the worms? My clay yard has fewer worms than a marble ballroom floor.

Bait shop?

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I bought mine at a local bait shop, but I'd maybe try [url]https://www.unclejimswormfarm.com/order-stuff?page=shop.browse&category_id=3[/url]
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TFA303 wrote:Where do you get the worms? My clay yard has fewer worms than a marble ballroom floor.

Bait shop?
Know anyone with a horse? A cow? That's where I got all of mine. Just went to a friends house who has horses and dug in the aged manure pile and there were millions!

Good luck!

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Start a regular compost pile sitting on the ground. Even though you think you have no worms, the worms will come! :)
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Jbest
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Vermicomposting is not for everyone. Done properly, it will take a considerable amount of your time. If you cannot afford the time then you will certainly have problems. There are many more potential problems than have been mentioned. I agree with Rainbow that a compost bin is a better choice if you have the room. MN does a better job than us and does not charge for her time. John
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Jbest wrote:Vermicomposting is not for everyone. Done properly, it will take a considerable amount of your time.
What exactly do you mean by "properly" and "considerable"?

I can't imagine what it takes to make vermicompost time consuming. I think of the worm bin bag like a slow garbarator, Food goes on top, poop comes out below.

Even my plastic bins are easy. Throw stuff in, wait, remove.
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I have to agree. There's not much simpler than putting in waste and waiting a while and getting it out. I take MAYBE 5 minutes every week or 2 for the worms I have.

Not sure what you mean...?

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15 minutes max per weekend for maintenance. When I'm harvesting worm castings, it takes a few more minutes, but the castings are the whole point of the activity, so I don't mind.

I use a trowel and scoop the castings out into a bucket. Maybe 5 minutes extra every now and then.

More bedding when needed, from pre-shredded newspaper. Maybe 5 minutes extra every now and then (includes dipping newspaper into a bucket of water before putting it into the worm habitat).

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Kelly_Guy
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Hi. First time poster here.

I am new to vermicomposting, but I seem to have a good start. I bought my worms from a seller on ebay in my state, and made some homemade bins out of storage containers. I bought 1/2 pound to keep the cost down, and I can tell they are reproducing. I have had no pest problems, nor odor problems. At the rate of the decomposition of the bedding, I should harvest my first batch in a month or two. I don't feed them anything I was warned against, but other than that, I don't fuss too much over how often or exactly what I feed them. The bins are in my laundry room.

I didn't know that about freezing fruit. That is a neat trick to know. In short, I side with the group who thinks vermicomposting is on the easy side. Just decide how much of an investment it is worth to you, and plan appropriately.

Kelly

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Toil wrote:
Jbest wrote:Vermicomposting is not for everyone. Done properly, it will take a considerable amount of your time.
What exactly do you mean by "properly" and "considerable"?

I can't imagine what it takes to make vermicompost time consuming. I think of the worm bin bag like a slow garbarator, Food goes on top, poop comes out below.

Even my plastic bins are easy. Throw stuff in, wait, remove.
You and navajo must be incredibly lucky. cynthia mentioned several but I think very conservative with the time spent. You have to maintain proper bedding, proper organic material out side of garbage, proper temperatures, Hi and Low, proper drainage. When it comes time to harvest casings you either need stackable bins so the worms can migrate to the new bin or space to spread out the bedding to pick out the worms by hand. If not you take the chance of killing a lot of worms. If one worm dies and turns to gas, there goes the whole herd. Then there will be more than just a little odder. John
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Jbest wrote:You and navajo must be incredibly lucky. cynthia mentioned several but I think very conservative with the time spent. You have to maintain proper bedding, proper organic material out side of garbage, proper temperatures, Hi and Low, proper drainage. When it comes time to harvest casings you either need stackable bins so the worms can migrate to the new bin or space to spread out the bedding to pick out the worms by hand. If not you take the chance of killing a lot of worms. If one worm dies and turns to gas, there goes the whole herd. Then there will be more than just a little odder. John
I tend to think of vermicomposting as being somewhere in the middle when it comes to difficulty and amount of time needed. I do spend some time thinking about what needs to go in and I check up on my worms quite frequently. In fact, I am monitoring my new red wrigglers once every day (or two) to make sure they are doing well, they have enough food, the soil is not too dry, etc.

However, I wouldn't say that the work that I put into my compost is any more difficult than any other type of composting. Certainly it involves more effort than buying compost from a store, but I don't consider vermicomposting hard work. I find it very fascinating and I believe that at least half of the time spent checking up on my vermicompost is due more to my own curiosity and impatience than to a necessity to ensure things are circulating smoothly.

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Yes, I have stackable trays so the worms migrate up.

Yes, the temps are fairly constant: the worm habitat is in the carport. The carport has a 4-hour-rated firewall on the west side (property line), and the habitat is within a foot of the firewall and about four feet in from the south (open) side. The entire habitat is covered with an old army blanket to smoothe out the temperature changes, both up and down. The worms are always in the shade.

These worms have survived record high temps (103 deg F) and record low temps (22 deg F) since May 2008 in their carport location. I added the blanket when the record low temps were forecast in December 2008, and the worms rewarded me with mass survival. :)

I assume that the worms experience an entire life cycle, including death; however, the others have never been put off by or indeed even allowed me to find their dead comrades. There is an abundance of cocoons.

I've been separating vegetable matter and recyclables / returnables from my actual garbage in the kitchen since (ahem...) before Earth Day made it to Atlanta. (I was 16 when I left my parents' home forever.) It is such a habitual way of life--veggie waste goes here, paper over there, cans in the bucket, etc.--that I can prove that it saves me both time and money. Money b/c of the smaller size garbage can and the smaller fee paid to the city waste hauler; time b/c all the separation takes place at the source and not afterwards.

I shred newspapers whenever I think about it, usually during the winter rains, and I fill a big yard bag with shredded newspaper. This lasts for at least a year, often longer, as worm bedding. Not a bad investment of 30 or 40 minutes! :D

My "15 minute per weekend" guess is really on the high side. It allows for my walking downstairs from the kitchen (14 stairs; I have a very bad right knee), walking out to the carport, taking the blanket off the worm habitat, taking the lid off, ooh-ing and aah-ing at my little invertebrates and aren't you working hard today!, burying the food/veggie scraps in the current location, putting the lid back on, etc., and going back up into the house. I can stretch out the 15 minutes if I want some social time with the worms :? but, really, they're not much in the way of conversationalists! :lol:

For someone who can walk normally (like DH), this whole process takes 6 or 7 minutes max. And it takes place once a week.

When I'm not feeling well (pain attacks and/or migraine), I stretch out the feeding intervals to every other weekend, so we can cut the time down by a factor of 2. Me: 7 minutes/weekend; DH: 3 minutes/weekend.

And don't forget to check out the possibility of purchasing a discount or subsidized worm bin from your municipality, county, or private solid-waste provider. Many, many jurisdictions in North America offer these "deals" due to legal requirements that they reduce their landfill contributions posthaste.

Cynthia

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Jbest
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I think people are misunderstanding my original post. I think vermicomposting is a fantastic idea. I was raising red worms and ncs before there was such a word as vermicomposting. My point was vermicomposting isn’t for everybody just like conventional composting isn’t for everybody. Since I compost lawn and garden debris it is more convenient for me to just toss kitchen scraps in the compost pile and let MN do her job. As with any new venture go in to it with your eyes open and be prepared to head off problems or you will surly have them. John
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top_dollar_bread
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Jbest wrote:I think people are misunderstanding my original post. I think vermicomposting is a fantastic idea. I was raising red worms and ncs before there was such a word as vermicomposting. My point was vermicomposting isn’t for everybody just like conventional composting isn’t for everybody.
i agree with you on here but the following seems like your overthinking this to much
You have to maintain proper bedding, proper organic material out side of garbage, proper temperatures, Hi and Low, proper drainage. When it comes time to harvest casings you either need stackable bins so the worms can migrate to the new bin or space to spread out the bedding to pick out the worms by hand. If not you take the chance of killing a lot of worms. If one worm dies and turns to gas, there goes the whole herd. Then there will be more than just a little odder. John
i got some pretty nice worm bins and well i only add bedding when i see one side of my bin is done (month or weeks), proper organic material is just like composting, you want close to equal amounts of greens and browns (bedding and food), no need for proper temp, like Cynthia my worms have survived, wait actually flourished in extreme temps both cold and hot and no you don't need a stackable bin to make harvesting the casting easy. just move the casting that you think is done to one side and add new moist news paper, or coir or peat and add food to the other side. with in a week the worms will move to the new bedding/food leaving your finish casting perfect to harvest. then the worms dieing and gas?? :roll: come on man, they decompose just like the food(OM) you add, making good casting. Shoot I even seen a worm meal, were they grind up worms and use as soil amendment…
drainage/humidity I find is one of the only things you want to be on top of , because once your bin gets to humid, worms want to escape and other critters prefer to live in ther (mites,gnats, fruit fly ect) i personally don't even water my bin, the food scraps and plant matter i add has enough moister to keep the bin running good.
check out my vermicompost thread, its easy as pie my friend :lol:

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Oh jeez I don't have stackable bins in the fancy sense. I just stop feeding and when it looks ready I scrape about a third off, let them go down, repeat. My worms can migrate down in the stacks and nowhere in the regular bin. I kill tons of worms this way, an I really don't care. I have worms to spare. When I sift it, a catch some - the lucky ones - and they get to live.

The worm bin bag is even easier than that.

I agree overthinking worms in a container does not help. Especially if your goal is castings.

Drainage - I occasionally have to water my bins. I have little tricks for getting the moisture right. Bokashi helps a lot, because it drains as it ferments. And the worms love it. Breeding frenzy.

Nothing is for everybody. Goes without saying.
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I'm relatively new to vermicomposting. I bought my worms from this guy:
https://www.redwormcomposting.com/

He's got a lot of info on his site I found it very helpful. The ordering process was very smooth. I started my bin when the ground was still frozen. I guess I could have been patient and waited to collect my own from the garden!

The hard work consisted of making the bins- It took me less than an hour to drill the holes in my rubbermaid containers- I have a solid container on the bottom to collect any water and runaways, 4 pieces of scrap wood blocks in the bottom of it to raise up the 2nd bin to avoid any suction issues when separating the 2 containers. I drilled some holes in a lid for air circulation. I cut up newspaper and other bedding while watching TV (I suppose I could have DH bring home shredded paper from the office). I keep a ziplock bag in the freezer and add the compostables to it as I get them. Once a week I pull it out, let it thaw and then bury it in the bin. I have a 2nd bin so when the first one is full I put the 2nd bin on top with fresh bedding and bury some more food -the worms follow the food. I add whatever bedding ect is left from the first bin after a few days/week and start the process all over again. Other than the initial time investment to make the bin it really isn't much work. After a heavy rain (we keep the bin outside the back door, we'll move it inside in the winter)we check the bottom bin and rescue one or two worms that washed through- we chuck them back in the top bin and water the plants with the leachate that collected in the bottom. If we've had a dry spell I give the bin a squirt with my garden hose or the watering can when I'm watering my plants. That's about it.

I had some fruit flies in the begining- I started freezing the scraps and burying them better and that seems to have solved the problem. The bin has an earthy smell, no stink.
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I keep my in the balcony and I avoid putting sweet fruit there, this way I get less flies.

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I would also try to avoid harvesting the entire bin, ever.

There are microarthropod populations that take a year to develop and a harvest to eliminate.
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