Wawa Worm Composting

For quite some time now I’ve been meaning to add some sort of worm composting Q & A section to the site. I receive a lot of questions about worm composting, in the form of comments on the blog and of course via email. Not surprisingly, there is a decent amount of overlap (obviously people can’t be expected to search the entire site for their answer!).

In an effort to get the info out to the masses, I’ve decided to add a new category to the blog, ‘Reader Questions’, where I will dedicate each post to a question I have received. This way a lot more people have the opportunity to see my responses.

If your question happens to be selected for a post, I will also send you an email to let you know.

Ok – let’s get rolling here! Our first question comes from Michelle, up in Northern Ontario – Wawa, to be exact! This small town is located between Sault Ste Marie and Thunder Bay, just north of one of my favourite camping destinations – Lake Superior Provincial Park! Anyway, here is what Michelle had to say…

Hello!
I am planning on starting up a couple of experimental worm bins in my home as an investment of my volunteer place of work. We’re thinking of trying out two different kinds of worm types (red wigglers and night crawlers) in two separate possibly rubbermaid bins (which we have yet to buy) in my basement. If all goes well we are going to try and get vermicomposting started on a larger scale in our small town community and get restaurants to give us their compost materials. We’ve got a community garden and will hopefully be using all the finished compost for it and other growing initiatives around town. Vermicomposting sounds like the perfect idea for us because it’s hard to compost around here because there are all sorts of wild critters that can get into it. I think we had a wooden compost construction in our yard once but it got knocked over by a bear.. so indoor composting is the way to go. Also our town is very big on fishing and holds a large ice-fishing derby every year. I’ve read that night crawlers are excellent bait worms so we may even be able to sell some to local fishermen if we ever get an abundance.

So, I was just wanting to know if we bought a pound of each type of worm would that be too many for a basic worm tub? My house has 9 people in it (it’s a house for the Katimavik youth volunteers program) and so I’m sure we will have enough food scraps..

We’re located in Wawa, Ontario, Canada. I tried to find on your site where you are in case you were closer and could help with recommendations of worm suppliers, but I couldn’t find anything. I’m very eager to start this up as soon as possible and get some new wormy friends as housemates!

I guess I don’t have all that many questions, I just wanted to hear your take on my situation, and tell you how commendable your dedication to worms and composting is! I greatly appreciate all the great information on your site, thanks.

Hi Michelle,
Thanks for stopping by! Your project sounds really interesting. I’m always pleased when I hear about young(er) people getting involved in worm composting initiatives.
You mentioned your desire to use “nightcrawlers” along with Red Worms. Are you referring to European Nightcrawlers or ‘Canadian Nightcrawlers’ (a.k.a ‘Dew Worms’ / Lumbricus terrestris)?

Dew Worms are a very popular bait, especially up here in Canada (where huge numbers of them are collected and sold), but unfortunately they can’t be raised in captivity (at least not easily), much less be used for worm composting. European Nightcrawlers (Eisenia hortensis) on the other hand, while also excellent bait worms, are good for vermicomposting as well (and breed very readily in captivity as I’ve recently been discovering for myself).

I know I talk about Jeff ‘The Friendly Worm Guy’ quite a bit here on the blog, but the fact of the matter is I can’t help doing so in response to your query. Jeff sells European Nightcrawlers and is located in Massey – which is still quite a few hours away from you, but at least it’s in Northern Ontario as well. I’m not sure if there are any composting worm dealers in Thunder Bay or Sault Ste Marie, but it might be worth looking into as well (don’t think Jeff is selling Red Worms as of yet).

As for using a 2 lbs or worms (1 lb of each type) to process the food wastes from 9 people, I guess it all depends on how healthy you eat! haha
In all seriousness, if you and your housemates eat a lot of fruits and vegetables you will likely have too much waste on your hands. Just to give you an illustration – my wife and I have recently started eating a lot more fruit every day (as part of our ’08 goal to eat better), and I’ve been blown away with the amount of worm food I now have. I’m actually finding it a little hard to keep up (and I have multiple indoor bins and a large outdoor bin, which I’ve insulated for winter composting)!

Assuming you and your 8 housemates eat even a moderate amount of fruits and veggies (along with drinking coffee/tea), there is a decent chance you will need bigger systems. I’d recommend starting up two large tubs (there are Rubbermaid tubs that come with hinged lids) and use at least 2 lbs of worms in each. Be sure to get each bin ready for the arrival of your worms by mixing up ample amounts of bedding (shredded cardboard is a good choice) and food waste, then moistening with water and letting it sit for a week or so.

I’ll definitely be interested to hear more about how your project comes together for you (I love the idea of approaching your community restaurants etc – sounds like the type of work that Mark Yelkin is involved in). Don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any other questions.

Thanks again for stopping by!

B.

[tags]worm composting, vermicomposting, red worms, red wigglers, european nightcrawlers, eisenia fetida, eisenia hortensis, dew worms, bait worms, canadian nightcrawler, lumbricus terrestris, wawa, sault ste marie, thunder bay, massey, northern ontario[/tags]

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