Getting started basics 101

rjingaApril 29, 2009

I have not seen (although it must be here) some basics on what you need to get started. I guess I will expand my search to the internet, but GW has always been so helpful to all my endeavors :)

So if someone, (me) knowing NOTHING, wanted to give this a whirl, what would I need to do, what do I need to know, what can I expect etc.

Any tips would be greatly appreciated, pictures, would be even better!!!

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There is a good section on getting started, entitled -

"How to Get Started with Vermiculture"

on the following web page -

Here is a link that might be useful: A Worm Farm At Your Own Home

    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 4:54PM
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folly_grows(10 SF by the Bay)

On Youtube there are a number of good videos on getting started, different systems, and harvesting. Try the one by TheCompostGuy.

BEWARE: Vermiculture is addictive.

Here is a link that might be useful: Setting Up a Basic Worm Bin

    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 8:21PM
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shermthewerm(8 PNW)

I'll second that, folly grows! Why is it that vermiculture is so addictive? Before finally buying my WF, I spent 2 months talking it over with the DH to see if he was on board & willing to help, because I was afraid that I would buy worms & then not take care of them.

As if! Now I just have to tell myself everyday, "Leave them alone. Don't bother them, they'll get way more done, if you don't peek under that lid".

I am continuously looking for ways to be "green" (without too much effort), and vermiculture is definitely my favorite.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 9:51PM
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A couple of comments on the video:

1) I would drill the holes on the side of the bin as close to the underside of the lip at the top edge as possible, because that will let less light in. I also would not drill holes in the lid.

2) He starts with a LOT of food! I would start with less food. That also means you need to moisten more than just the top layer of the bedding, since much of the moisture in his setup is coming from the food.

3) I would hold off on the questionable food until the bin is well established.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 2:00AM
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You should DEFINITELY get ahold of a copy of Worms Eat My Garbage!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 7:25PM
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More comments on the video. I've been reading and he no longer uses bins that don't have a LOT of holes at the bottom. Without air flow (oxygen) through the bin is more likely to get in trouble. His is another good site for beginners and old-timers. (And the inbetween - I've been doing this for a year and a half now.)

As to the amount of food. He can only get away with that much because he lets it sit for 2 weeks to get over the hot phase before adding the worms.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 3:25PM
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My concern over the amount of food isn't that it will get hot, though with a lot of bread it might. My concern is that he is overfeeding a new bin, which can lead to anaerobic conditions. Letting it sit for two weeks is to give the food time to start decomposing so the worms have something to eat from the beginning.

I have fed pretty heavily a few times, and the only time it gets hot is if I feed a lot of grains all at once.

As for airflow, he also does not put a lid on his bins anymore.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 6:31PM
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beth_monsterworms(9 SF East Bay)

Hi. Welcome to Vermiculture!! I agree, it is addicting. We have 36 bins and growing!! I would recommend starting out simple. Just get yourself a rubbermaid bin, some red worms and lots of shredded newpaper. 1. As long as you don't overwater, you don't need to put holes in the bin. Leave the cover off. When you are just starting out, keep a light over the bin to keep the worms in. (They hate the light) 2. The first thing that you want to do is to shred up your newspaper. Then soak it in water for at least 24 hours. This allows all of the fibers to absorb the moisture and will keep it from drying out prematurely. 3. Add in your worms. Do this with a light overhead. This will force them to burrow into the bedding (moist newspaper). You will need a composting worm. We have three types that we work with and recommend. The smallest is the red wiggler or Eisenia fetida(foetida). It's cousin, the European Nightcrawler (Eisenia hortensis), is a little larger. And the largest is the African Nightcrawler. They are all great composting worms. We really like the Euros and the Africans. 4. Wait a few days to let them get comfortable (they love to eat newpaper), and then feed then. We feed them once or twice a week. The rule of thumb is that they eat 1/2 of their body weight per day. One lb. of worms equals 1/2 lb. of food. We only feed them on the ends of the bins, under the bedding. Keep burlap or cotton material at the bottom and top and you should be all set! You can find a lot of info on the web. We have some FAQs and articles on our website if you're interested. Hope all of this helps!!! Good Luck!

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 2:21AM
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Hello! I'm so glad I found this site- I am new to gardening in general (I live in an urban setting and just set up a raised bed vegetable garden) I am also just starting to vermicompost. My question (after watching the posted video and then looking elsewhere on the internet) is if I should soak the bedding before putting it into the bin or just layer it as he did and spray lightly? I've seen conflicting opinions. I'm going to use a 10 gal rubbermade bin; and will have 1 lb of worms. Also, is it a better idea to set it up now to give it a few days before I add the worms? Thanks for your help!

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 8:54AM
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1) Soaking bedding: This is a matter of personal preference. If you are impatient, as I am, you will soak the bedding. You will also have a very wet bin as a result. There is enough water in most foods to supply moisture to the bin without adding additional water. Its just that when you see dry bedding at the top of the bin, you really feel like you need to fix it, so you spray water, rather than waiting for the food to break down and release its own water.

My personal opinion is that he started with too much food. If you start with less food, you will need to start with more water.

Also it takes a few days for the moisture to even out through the bin. If you are adding worms very soon after setting up the bin, you will need to soak the bedding.

2) It is best to start the bin a week or two before adding worms. The worms need something to eat. They eat decomposing organic matter. You want the food in the bin to be decomposing before you add the worms. This takes longer in a new bin than it does after the bin is well established.

One thing I did when I set up my bin that really got things going was add a few handfuls of partially finished compost. The worms ate this for the first couple of weeks and pretty much ignored the other food. My decision to buy worms was made quickly, so I only had four days to get the bin ready, not long enough to allow the food to start decomposing.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 10:32AM
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beth_monsterworms(9 SF East Bay)

Hi. Two things that I forgot to mention in my last post. 1. After you soak the bedding, makes sure that you squeeze out the excess water. It should be as wet as a wrung out sponge. Then fluff it up before you put it in your bin. 2. Visit There are a LOT of great articles there.

Here is a link that might be useful: Earthworm Digest

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 11:16AM
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My method of "soaking" does not involve actual soaking of the bedding. I fill a bin with dry bedding (I prefer shredded cardboard) then stir it by hand while I slowly pour water over it. When the bedding is mostly wet, I put a cover on it and let it sit over night. If you don't put in too much water, you don't need to squeeze any out.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 1:07PM
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I feel i must point out that Bently (the guy who made the video) now puts in a LOT of worms in the bin when he starts it up. At least 5 pounds of worms. That gives him plenty of leeway.

I used his videos as a guide when i first started my bin. I did the whole thing. Except the 5 pounds of worms. I only bought a half pound and didn't have any trouble. I also never had the worms trying to escape even once during the year i have been vermicomposting.

I should note that by the time the break in two weeks were up i couldn't identify any of the food put into the bin. It had broken down into worm ready "food" and soaked into the paper. I recommend you do this part outside, it did get smelly. Possibly because i added a lot of cabbage type plants. My fridge had gone on the fritz and froze everything. Within 24 hours of adding my paltry half pound of worms the smell disappeared and the bin smelled like wet paper.

I didn't add any additional food for 2 weeks. Then i added the tops off one bunch of radishes that had gone bad. It took another week before the worms ate them.

It nearly drove me nuts waiting for the worms to start working the only identifiable food in the bin and it is easily understood why most people wouldn't want to wait that long to see some activity.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2009 at 8:19AM
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That is a lot of worms! He must be a very impatient person - they would probably take his hand off, if he wasn't fast.

I agree,putting pre rotted food certainly can give a kick start - if you can get it out of the immediate vicinity in the interim

    Bookmark   May 10, 2009 at 10:33AM
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He just has a lot of worms. He sells them.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2009 at 11:32PM
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Hi beth-monsterworms. What is the burlap or cotton cloth top and bottom for?

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 5:49PM
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