|The following information is provided by Todd Spratt, Vermitech Specialist Buy Earthworms here.
OUR CURRENT CRISES
Our world is facing a number of environmental challenges, one of which is garbage and what to do with it all! Many States are requiring counties with in their borders to reduce refuse to landfills by 50% by the year 2000.
It is estimated that 25 to 40 percent of our waste is organic in nature (yard waste, table scraps, paper etc.)
It takes approximately 8 gallons of water to flush a pound of food waste down the garbage disposal. When it all reaches the sewage treatment plant chemicals are added to the mix and the end result is toxic sludge that still has to be disposed of and so called treated water that is dumped back into our streams and rivers to be used again by someone down stream!
Incineration of waste causes toxic fumes to enter our atmosphere, requires a large amount of energy and the end result is a toxic ash that must still be eliminated
Burial of waste in landfills takes up space that is becoming harder to find, waste buried in landfills take years to break down and creates methane gas and leachates which are hazardous for us and our planet. Heavy equipment for the transport and processing of waste in this manner consumes large amounts of energy, adds to noise, air pollution and contaminates our ground water.
We must change this process before this process changes our planet.
You can tackle one of our environmental challenges right now before it ever leaves your home.
The REDWORM CAFE with 2 lb. of Redworms will convert 250 + pounds of waste to a resource per year, when proper conditions are provided.
You can do it in the privacy of your own home, it's easy, fun and clean. Think of the money you'll save on your garbage bills and bags, plus all the free fertilizer and if your a fisher person you'll have a steady supply of fresh bait. Not to mention the fact that YOU will be making a positive impact on YOUR PLANET!
Your organic waste is recycled where it is generated, no disposal transport, no landfill, no nothing except a rich organic fertilizer that is given back to your house plants, yard and garden. This is Earth Smart™!
It is important to understand that learning to be responsible for our individual actions will improve our quality of life and our children's.
WORM BIN SETUP
When conditions are maintained as indicated below the REDWORM CAFE has no foul odor, is clean and extremely effective at converting your garbage to fertilizer.
LOCATION is important, Redworms are most active and will convert your waste faster between 60 and 80 degrees F. But Redworms are hardy and will survive a wide range of temperatures. Put your bin in a well shaded area never in direct sun or freezing conditions. I keep my bin in my office, you may consider a basement, garage, kitchen, bedroom, pantry, laundry room, outside or ? be creative and you'll find the perfect spot.
SETUP your bin by misting the bedding (shredded paper) in the bin to the consistency of a wrung out sponge. Mix the bedding to make sure it's moistened evenly and do not pack it down. If you over water add some newspaper, cardboard or sawdust to soak up excess water. Excess water will also drain through the vented floor into the basement of the Redworm Cafe and can be drained off at your convenience.
When bedding is ready add the Redworms, dump them on the bedding and spread them evenly over the surface. Redworms are photo sensitive and will dig in quickly when exposed to bright light.
When you are finished watching your Redworms crawl down place the cover on tightly as they will crawl around the bin while adjusting to their new home.
Caring for your REDWORM CAFE is a simple process involving little time and after you understand the basic principal you'll wonder why you didn't start VERMI-COMPOSTING sooner. If you do run in to any adverse condition in the bin these tips will help, so stick with it and may all your REDWORMS be happy ones!
1. Odor in the bin:
A. Over feeding.
B. Bedding to wet
C. Anaerobic condition (no air) exist.
D. Rotting meat or dairy in the bin.
E. Not enough bedding over waste.
A. Stop feeding for a week.
B. Add more dry bedding.
C. Fluff bedding.
D. Discontinue or cut back meat and dairy in the bin.
E. Bury waste deeper in bedding.
2. Too many Fruit Flies:
A. Bin to wet
B. Bed to acidic.
C. Scraps are not buried deep enough in bedding.
D. Scrap pail is open to fruit flies.
A. Add dry bedding B. Sprinkle some oyster flour or egg shells on surface. C. Bury waste deeper. D. Place a screened lid over scrap pail.
3. Redworms crawl extensively in bin:
A. Too many castings in bin.
B. Bed pH. is out of balance.
A. Harvest castings and begin cycle again.
B. Bring pH. into balance.
4. Too many mites:
A. Take the bin outside and remove mites.
B. Keep numbers under control (if necessary) when you feed the bin. If mites become a problem (which is rare) dump the bin, remove the worms and bury the bedding.
OTHER HELPFUL CRITTERS IN YOUR BIN
Although Redworms (Eisenia fetida) are wonderful composters they can not do it alone, they require the help of other composting organisms.
Mold, bacteria and fungi break down and decay organic matter so that the Redworms can convert it more readily, and these organisms are also consumed by Redworms and other critters in your bin. Note: If you are allergic to mold spore's you may want someone else to tend the bin for you and keep the bin where it won't effect you.
Sow bugs and pill bugs (Isopods) may be in the soil you add to your bin. Isopods are land crustaceans, related to crabs and lobsters. They breath through gills and eat decaying matter, they are great composters.
Mold and beetle mites (Acarina) are so tiny they are difficult to see. They eat mold, algae and decaying matter. They tend to congregate near the vents and lid, you can keep their numbers down by squishing them or brushing or rinsing them off outside.
Fruit flies are also composters but are a nuisance in large numbers, placing a screened lid on your scrap pail will help keep them from entering your bin.
Spring tails are tiny white creatures that also help compost they live up to their name by springing around the bin.
Pot worms (Enchytraeids) are tiny white worms that resemble baby Redworms, they eat decaying matter and are beneficial.
FEEDING YOUR REDWORMS
After your Redworms have settled in for a few days you may begin feeding them. Feed may consist of just about anything organic, avoid vinegar, oils, salt, large amounts of citrus, meat and dairy waste. Painted paper, cedar and redwood chips are also harmful to your Redworms.
Place a container under your sink or other convenient location for your food scraps. A vented lid will help keep fruit flies from entering the system. Feed once or twice a week and always change burial location each time you feed.
When your REDWORM CAFE is well established 1 lb. of Redworms will convert about 1/2 lb. of waste per day. The 20 gal. REDWORM CAFE is designed to house 1 lb. of Redworms and will convert between 2 1/2 & 3 1/3 lbs. of waste per week. The 33 gal. REDWORM CAFE is designed to house 2 lbs. of Redworms and will convert between 5 & 7 lbs. of waste per week. It may be wise though to feed no more than 5 or 6 lbs of waste per week so you won't stress the system. Over feeding will sour the bed. Weigh your scraps on a bathroom scale, produce or mail scale even a fishing scale will work well and ensure your ecosystem will stay in balance. Start out feeding lighter amounts and then gradually increase.
Pull back the bedding in one corner of the bin leaving a little bedding on the bottom, dump in your scraps and then cover it up with 1 or 2 inches of bedding. Redworms have gizzards that function like a chickens so adding a handful or two of soil will give them the hard particles they need to digest their food.
Maintaining your REDWORM CAFE is relatively easy and it is interesting to witness the process that takes place in your micro-environment. With a little observation and care it will function beautifully.
Try to maintain the bin temperature between 45 and 85 degrees F. Redworms are most active and will covert your waste faster between 60 and 80 degrees F.
Maintaining moister content is also important because Redworms absorb oxygen trapped in water through their skin, so you don't want your bin to dry out. Too much moisture will sour the bedding and pack it down creating anaerobic condition (no oxygen) which will cause odor and make harvesting your compost and castings a messy job. Fortunately the REDWORM CAFE is equipped with a cleverly designed vented floor that allows excess water to drain through and air to ventilate the bedding to help maintain an aerobic system (having oxygen).
Compost water that collects in the basement of the bin can be drained into a pan diluted with an equal amount of water and given to your plants, they'll love it. If the spout becomes clogged unscrew it and poke a stick through, it may be best to do this outside.
Adding bedding when you feed in the form of paper, cardboard, sawdust or coir (coconut fiber) will keep the bed fluffy and absorb excess moisture from the table scraps.
HARVESTING THE END PRODUCT
When you harvest your precious castings will depend on the type of end product you want. In three or four months you could harvest a rich compost, the longer you let it go the more pure castings will be deposited and the darker and richer it will become. The down side of that is the Redworm population will decrease as the amount of castings increase.
After about a month there will be enough castings deposited on the sides of the bin to scrape off and use immediately on your house plants and you can repeat this during the hole cycle.
Stop feeding the bin 1 or 2 weeks before you harvest. One method is to pull half of the top layer to the other side collecting the castings from the bottom. Fill the void with fresh bedding and then repeat the process on the remaining half. Place your harvest on a plastic sheet or garbage bag in a couple of smaller piles with plenty of light, the Redworms will crawl to the bottom and you can rake the surface off the piles a little at a time until you reach the pile of worms at the bottom.
Weigh the Redworms if there are more than you need for your bin use the excess in your garden and be sure to provide them with lots of organic mulch to eat and convert to castings.
You can also dump the bin in your garden and start your bin with new Redworms. You should dump the entire contents of the bin and rinse it out once or twice a year and then begin again with fresh bedding.
Buy Earthworms here!