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How to Put Worms to Work for You

(or How to Build a Vermicompost Bin)

Captain EarthwormHello, this is Captain Earthworm. Some of my crew would like to work for you. First Mates Nellie and Nicky Red Wiggler do a great job turning food scraps into valuable compost. If you could use some good fertilizer for house and garden plants, consider First Mates Nellie and Nicky Red Wiggler or other members of my crew. They would be glad to eat your food scraps and provide you with good compost.

If you decide to give my crew a job, you will need to make them a home. A nice plastic box or a large plastic container or storage bin will do. Remember, we earthworms like to be in the dark, so make sure your container is not made out of clear see-through plastic and has a lid.

We breathe through our moist skins, so have your parents drill very small holes on the sides, close to the top, for air.

Nellie & Nickie Red WigglerThere are many places you can put our home. In the summer, you can keep us outside under a shaded tree, or in the basement or garage. In the winter, we need to be inside, out of freezing temperatures. Consider keeping us in your laundry room or in the warm basement. As long as you keep our furniture moist, but not wet, and give us only a small amount of vegetable food at a time, there is no odor.

My First Mates will need some furniture. The best bedding for our home is shredded coconut shells dissolved in water (they are also called Gro-Bricks, and you can buy one at your local Park, Botanical Garden store or on the internet). Make sure to read the instructions for dissolving the Gro-Bricks in water to make our furniture, it shouldn’t be soggy. Keep our bedding moist by misting it with a spray bottle as needed. Please be careful when you dampen it: if it is too wet, my crew will drown. If it is too dry, they will not be able to breathe.

Bury your vegetable and fruit scraps in the bedding to prevent smell and provide us with easy access to our meals. My crew is vegetarian, so no meat or dairy scraps, please.

Every four to six weeks, push the furniture, which has now become compost, to one end of their home, and bring in some more furniture. Put the food in the newly added bedding – my crew will move to that side of their home to eat. You can then remove some of the rich compost to put on your houseplants or wait until you have a lot and put it on your garden.

If you would like more information on vermicomposting, check out Mary Appelhof's Site for Worm Composting Resources

To learn more about worms and play fun vermi games check out

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