Worm Composting

As many of you know, I am raising rabbits now and I feel the next natural step in this process is to figure out what I can do with all of their waste. My rabbits only use 30% of what they consume and the rest gets passed through and goes straight into their manure. I got to thinking that this seems like I am wasting 70% of my money that I am spending in order to keep them fed. Needless to say, I was on the hunt to see how I could better use the extra money that was going down the drain. It is no secret that rabbit manure is one of the best organic fertilizers for your garden, orchard ect… After doing some research, I realized the best way to use their manure would be to start vermicomposting. Vermicomposting is also known as worm composting. I will be housing my worms in a bin that will be filled with rabbit manure, dirt, bedding and other kitchen waste that is suitable for my worms. My worms will break down what is in the bin and create worm casting and the result will be a fantastic fertilizer to add directly to my garden. These worms will also produce more worms, resulting in even greater results and a quicker turn around in the whole production.

The process is fairly simple and there is no need to over complicate anything here. Worms (red wigglers) need few things in life in order to get to work. My worm bin will be located outside. If you plan on keeping your worm bin inside you will need to do all of these same steps plus one more. You will need to acquire a second bin that will slide around the first bin in order to catch the moisture that will come out of the bottom holes and sides. For this post we will just focus on an outside bin, like the one I have put together.

~ A bin or tote with a lid (do not use a clear colored plastic, worms do not like light)
~ Aeration (this will be done by making holes with an electric drill using drill bit no larger than 1/4 inch)
~ Bedding and food (Shredded newspaper, magazines, dirt or soil, rabbit manure, dry leaves, banana peels, egg shells ect..)
~ Moisture (once all of the bin is constructed you will need to add 2 gallons of H2O each week)

Once you have your non clear worm bin with a lid, take your drill and drill holes along the top section, I drilled one hole every 3 or 4 inches (see picture).  I chose not to drill holes in the lid. After your holes are drilled along the top section of the bin, turn it over and drill holes all over the bottom. My bin is pretty large so I drilled about 30 holes evenly spaced all over the bottom of the bin. Once all of your holes are drilled you are ready to move onto the bedding.

My bedding consists of shredded newspaper, cardboard and magazines that were torn into 1 inch wide strips. What ever you choose for their bedding, please make sure that it is biodegradable. Peat moss and occasionally a hand full of sand is helpful to the worms too. Fill the bin that you are using up with this shredded newspaper and magazines to about 3/4 of the bin. These will compress down once you moisten them with water and put the other mediums you will be adding in. Next I added just enough water to the newspaper to make it feel like a sponge, you don’t want it soaked, just moist. After that step was finished I moved onto the dirt and soil that I added. The worms will need some dirt so that they can get traction and move throughout the bin. I added about a quarter of the size of the bin of dirt. Then I moved on to the next layer, which was my dried leaves and a little bit of used hay from my rabbits. After all of this was added I put in my rabbit manure and mixed it all together and added some more water to get everything in the bin nice and moistened.

Once you have completed this step, you will need to elevate your bin off  the ground in order to get the air circulation coming through the bottom as well. We got our bin up off the ground by using some wood. We just made a frame for the bin and put a “blocker” on the front and back so that the bin will stay in place. Whatever you decide to use, just make sure that the air can get up and to the bottom of the bin.

Now it is time to add your stars of the show…the worms. We have chosen to go with the red wigglers. I have heard of using other worms, but these are the ones we went with. Red wigglers have the best survival rate in worm bins. Earthworms and other garden worms do not do very well in these types of bins.  Red wigglers have the best reproduction rates and break down everything the quickest, therefore I would suggest using them as well. How many worms should you get? Well, 1 pound of worms (1000 wigglers) will need roughly1/2lb of scraps or food per day. I would take this number and figure out how much you are able to feed your worms per day and calculate how many worms you can take care of. I will be getting about 1000 to 1500 red wigglers for my bin.

Having a worm bin will be nice to have constant access to the best fertilizer you can get your hands on, but it will also be nice to always have a supply of worms to go fishing with too. If in the beginning you are having issue with the worms escaping, try leaving the lid open on the bin, worms despise light and this may help to keep them inside. Make sure to feed your worms and make sure you are adding water to the bin weekly about 2 gallons per week. Be sure to check the bin regularly, especially on hot days to see if more water is needed. The texture should always feel like a rung out sponge.

Items that you can feed your worms are:

Coffee grains and filters
Tea bags
Any fruit or veggie peels
Plate scraps
Egg shells…crush before adding to the bin
Any and all spoiled food (stay away from dairy though) Bury food lower if really spoiled

Do not add meat and bones!
Do not add dog or cat poop, kitty litter or non-biodegradable materials!

Give the worms a couple months to get going and time to reproduce and do their job. Once they have had enough time to make some great vermicompost, you will be able to harvest their hard work and add it to your plants. In order to do this just remove 1/2 to 2/3 of the bin and leave the rest. The worms that are left will be back at work reproducing and making more compost for you. Take what you have harvested and apply it directly to your garden or where ever else your heart desires.


This is an archive of: http://hillbillymom08.blogspot.com/2012/03/worm-composting.html