Just Starting Out

This question comes from Beth, who has a few questions before getting her first system up and running.

Okay, I’m off to the store to purchase my bins.
I have plenty of bedding stuff and have a couple of buckets of
veggies, egg shells, adn good stuff that has been sitting for a month
or two just waiting for this moment.
Do I need any special starter food, or this coconut coir thing?…
Where is the best place to purchase worms? I want red Wigglers AND
Euro Night crawlers.
Oh, and I found this site that has SuperReds…
are they the same as NightCrawlers.

Great Beth! A month or two? Wow, that’s what I call patience!

You definitely don’t need any special food for your worms. That is what you’ve been brewing for two moths – all those food scraps left to rot – definitely tasty stuff for your worms (I like to think of it as an all-you-can-eat microbial buffet). It sounds as though you’ve kept your bedding separate from your food scraps for this period – if so, you should definitely mix everything together and let the mix sit for a bit before adding the worms. Food scraps sitting on their own for awhile can get pretty nasty – bedding helps to absorb excess moisture and encourages air flow.

If you mix in a lot of food scraps (the stuff you’ve been aging) with your bedding initially you won’t likely need to really feed the worms for a while. The best bet is to let the worms settle in for a little while (maybe 3 or 4 days) and see if you can find any recognizable food materials – maybe then start adding a few things at a time and monitor how long it takes for the food to disappear. If it looks as though your worms are eating everything quickly (will help if you’ve aged the wastes for a bit before adding them) you can start upping your feeding rate.

Coconut coir is a ‘green’ alternative to peat moss – it is a waste product (husk materials I believe) from the coconut industry and has very similar properties. Both peat moss and coir are very absorbent, very high in carbon but low in nutrition – in other words they are great materials to use as (or mix with) your bedding. I’ve used coir mixed with shredded cardboard before and it does seem like a cool material, but it’s not really needed – I do just fine with my shredded cardboard (sometimes with brown leaves mixed in for good measure).

As for where to get your worms – if you send me an email I’ll be happy to make some recommendations.

We wary of the hype of worm marketing – I can assure you there is no such thing as a “Super” or “Hybrid” worm regardless of what people tell you – ask for the latin name. Red Worms are Eisenia fetida and European Nightcrawlers are Eisenia hortensis (formerly known as Dendrobaena veneta – a name still commonly used, especially overseas).
This is a perfect example of the problem with relying on common names – people can call the worms whatever they want.

Hope this helps, Beth! Thanks again for the questions.


[tags]red worms, european nightcrawlers, worm bin, worm bins, worm composting, vermicomposting[/tags]

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    • Jeff
    • March 25, 2008

    Great questions and great answers

    keep up the good work!


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