Spritzer Bottle & Plastic Gloves–2 tools that really help in worm composting
If you are new to worm composting you will learn how helpful it is to have a spritzer bottle and plastic gloves. It is important to go into your worm bin at least once a week to see how things are going. When you dig around in the worm bin, you are aerating the worm compost and you can see how the worms are faring. You can also notice if there is any odor in the bin. If there is any odor then it means that the bin is starting to go anaerobic and you need to take action!
Plastic Gloves Keep Your Hands Clean
I don’t mind getting my hands dirty but some people might not want to touch the worm compost or the worms! What I don’t like is when the compost gets under my fingernails and it is hard to get out. That is the main reason I use the plastic gloves. They are invaluable and they usually last a while. You can use it over and over again.
A Spritzer Bottle Keeps the Vermi-compost Moist
When you are just starting out with your worm bin, occasionally it needs to be moistened. Worms breathe through their skin so they need a moist environment. As the bin ages you will need less and less moisture because the worms produce their own moisture. In the beginning, though, you don’t want it to get too dry. A spritzer bottle is the perfect solution for this. You can spritz a fine spray over any newspaper that is getting dry. I got mine at Home Depot and I think a larger one is better so you don’t have to refill it all the time.
This is an amazing educational video that discusses all aspects of vermicomposting or worm composting with red wigglers. It is very interesting with excellent video shots about how wonderful red worms are and what they actually accomplish.
The video: Vermicomposting: a Living Soil Amendment from Cornell University covers:
Biology of Vermicomposting
Mating Cycle of Red Worms
Experiments in greenhouses with seedlings and synthetic growing mixes
Detailed explanations of experiments of how worm compost’s microbial activity suppresses disease in seedlings.
Creation of vermicompost at home and on a large scale.
In this Worm Factory review I will address some of the problems that I encountered with it. It was the third method that I used for worm composting. In my Worm Factory I continually had to open it up to get the worms out of the bottom drainage level. They consistently ended up there. This is one reason why I hesitate to put drainage holes in a DIY worm bin because I know how red wigglers migrate out of drainage holes.
Though the Worm Factory is very compact and neat looking it does have some usability issues. It is a good practice to go into the worm bin about once a week and stir up the bedding and see how they are doing. This also aerates the worm bin which is a good thing. Worms need oxygen to live. With the Worm Factory it is hard to get into the bin to see how the worms are doing or to get them all out of the drainage tray:
You have to lift off the trays depending on how many you have.
When they are full they are heavy and I was never quite sure where to put them because a lot of worms would be hanging out the bottom and I didn’t want to squish them.
So if you have, say, 3 trays, you have to lift out two of them before you can see or work with the lowest level and to see what is happening in the bottom tray. This is important because the weight of all the upper trays compresses the lower tray so there is not so much available oxygen. Sometimes my lower tray wouldn’t smell so good because of a lack of plentiful oxygen. I would always mix up the compost in the lower bin to oxygenate it.
Then you need to remove the lowest tray to get the worms out of the bottom. There were always lots of worms in the bottom where the spigot is. I would put layers and layers of newspaper in the lowest tray to block them from going into the drainage tray but they still managed to get down there. I don’t know what attracted them there. Maybe there were a lot of bacteria down there?? Maybe they didn’t have enough oxygen in the tray above because it was so compressed by the weight of the trays above it. But they were always there and I had to scoop them out and put them into another working tray.
Some ads say that “worm tea” collects in the bottom where the spigot is. It is not worm tea but leachate. It is the liquid that leaches through the worm bin and depending on the status of your worm bin it could contain harmful substances for plants. Worm tea is the liquid from soaking finished worm compost in water for a day or two. Read more at these links about leachate turning leaves yellow and the difference between worm tea and worm leachate.