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Episode 1 (10/28/08)

Starring:
Leigh Ramsdell
Hal Brindley
Rebecca Goodstein
Catey Ritchie
Susan Quinby-Honer
...(the Worm Lady)
Bear (the paper-shredding dog)
Menina (Leigh's cat)

 

Did you know?

Methane. It's not just for farts anymore.

You've probably heard that C02 (carbon dioxide) is one of the main greenhouse gasses causing global warming.

But you may not have heard that Methane may be an even more dangerous greenhous gas.

Even though we produce a much lower volume of methane, it has 20 times the greenhouse effect of each C02 molecule.

Yes methane comes out when you burp or fart. It also comes out of our billions of livestock animals when they burp and fart.

But did you know that one third of all the methane gas emissions form the United States comes for our landfills? Whaaa?!

That's right. When organic matter, like our food waste, rots in a landfill it gives off methane gas. That's why you see those white plastic pipes sticking up out of landfills. They are venting methane.

Methane is a product of anaerobic decomposition. That means it's rotting without exposure to air. (i.e. buried in a landfill.)

However, in a worm bin, you make sure that there is plenty of air available, which results in aerobic decomposition. This creates little to no methane and is a heck of a lot less stinky.

Fight Global Warming.

and promote Global Worming.

 

Random stuff

What's with the holes in the top of your worm bin?

That was a screw up. Leigh and I drilled holes in the top but later the worm lady recommended we use a solid top instead. Why? It lets in less light (worms don't like light) and if you put your bin outside, it will prevent rain from filling up you bin and drowing your little wormies.

Pretend you don't see any holes in the top of the bin.

(Please wait for video to load.)

If you have trouble viewing it, you can also:
watch it on YouTube
watch it in HD on Vimeo
download the Quicktime movie

How to Build a Worm Bin

Building a worm composting bin is fun and easy and it's good for keepin' life on earth.

Watch the video and give it a try. If you have any questions, feel free to email The Enviromentals at enviromentals@gmail.com.

Thanks for watching!


How to Build a Worm Bin
brought to you by The Enviromentals (Hal Brindley & Leigh Ramsdell)

Intro

Welcome to the first webisode of the Enviromentals.

WARNING!: Leigh and I have no idea what we're talking about.
We're just a couple of goofballs trying to do good and have some fun along the way.

One day we decided to make a worm bin 'cause we thought it would be cool. We didn't really know what it was or why we should do it. But we did it anyway and learned a few things along the way. The worms now live in the spare room at Leigh's house and have been thriving for many months. They have devoured untold pounds of organic waste, created buckets of great compost which have gone into my backyard garden, and have produced enough offspring that I have divided them up twice to create my own worm bin and one for my mom. Yes, that's right. Even mom's can compost.

Maintaining a worm bin can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. There isn't much to lose except a few bucks and a few hours of your time. But there is a lot to gain. Please do remember that worms are living things, just like you, so try to treat them with as much love and respect as you would a pet (or at least a relative.)

So give it a shot and have some fun.

-Hal

What can I feed my worms?

Basically you can feed your worms any organic matter (comes from living things)
However, people generally don't put dairy or meat into a worm bin because they would smell awful. Meat may contain harmful bacteria when decaying. The point of a worm bin is that you don't have to spend lots of your savings, from the account you found through lovemoney.com (http://www.lovemoney.com/savings/) or another company, to feed your worms. The idea is that they live on your waste.

So here's a basic list of what you can compost.

• any fruits and vegetables (and any part of them including skins, peels, pits, stems etc)
• egg shells and eggs
• breads, cereals and pasta
• cheese, cream cheese
• coffee grounds and coffee filters
• newspaper, printer paper, junk mail
• tea bags

How do I feed my worms?

Simply lift up some of the top layer of paper bedding and dump it in. Then cover it back up with the bedding.

Usually you add your organic waste once or twice a week. Worms do not like to be disturbed constantly and light freaks them out. So try not to go poking around in there every day. I dump my food in a different area of the bin about once a week. Leigh puts in smaller amounts at shorter intervals.

What is the paper bedding for and why is there no bedding in Rebecca's bin?

The paper bedding serves many purposes but the short answer is it gives them something to live in. They absorb moisture from it through their skin. They hide from the light inside of it. And they eat it. Eventually (after a couple months) you will have no paper left and all compost! (Like in Rebecca's bin.)
Also the bedding covers up your food waste to help prevent it from stinking and to keep flies from laying eggs in it.

What kind of paper can I use in the bedding?

Newspaper is the best because it holds water well and stays damp for the worms. You can also use your junk mail and used printer paper. If you shred your mail and documents with a paper shredder, it works much better to use a strip sherdder than a confetti shredder. The small confetti pieces will just pack together in big blobs and are very dificult to fluff. Here's a newspaper shredding tip. In the video you will see we used scissors to cut it into strips (among other tools) but I soon learned that is much faster to tear it. Hold a few full sheets of newspaper together, folded in half with the center crease pointing up. Now simply start from one side and tear straight downward in very thin strips. It's pretty darn fast and a heck of a lot of fun.

What is compost and what do I do with it?

Compost is basically dirt. Really fertile, nutritious dirt. What do you do with it? You stick it in your garden or your potted plants. Some people bury it, some people mix in to the soil, some just sprinkle it on top.

No plants? sprinkle it on your lawn.

Or you can sell it. Look around in your local garden store or whole foods and you will see that "vermicompost" (the technical term for worm compost) is sold as a fertilizer and it is very expensive! This is some high quality crap we're talkin' about here. (Worm crap)

When and how do I harvest the compost?

Any way you please. After a couple months you will see that most of your paper bedding is gone and there's a bunch of compost. (like Rebecca's bin in the video.) That's when it is time to get some new bedding in and get the precious compost out. I've done it manually, by physically picking the worms out of the compost one by one. This gives you a chance to visit with each one of them personally, ask them how their families are doing, and thank them for their hard work. But it's also a little stressful for them.

Another way, which I haven't tried personally, is to push all the contents of your bin to one side and fill the other half with new bedding. Then start placing your food in the fresh bedding. Within a few weeks most of your worms will have migrated over to follow the food. Then just scoop out the compost side.

Where do I get worms?

There are lots of places you can buy worms for your bin. Look around online and see if you can find a local supplier. I found two of them! We bought our worms from Red Hen Enterprises located in Raleigh, NC. WormWoman.com is where Rebecca ordered her pre-assembled bin online. They also sell worms separately.

Keep in mind that you can't just dig up some earthworms (nightcrawlers) out of your back yard and throw them in the bin. They are a different species that do not tolerate the conditions of a worm bin very well. The most commonly used species is Eisenia fetida, commonly known as 'red worms' or 'red wigglers'. They are surface feeders and are well suited to this environment. There are other species of worm that will work as well. Just remember that not all worms species can live happily in a bin.

Where should I put the bin? Come on! It really doesn't stink?!

OK, you can smell it a little bit. If you get up close. But unless something is going wrong with the bin, you really can't smell a thing. Leigh keeps his in his office/spare bedroom. I keep mine in my living room with a sarong draped over it so it looks like a side table. Rebecca keeps hers in her kitchen. Yes there have been times when I could smell my bin. But with a few corrections I got it straightened out again. If you're really paranoid about smell (and fruit flies) you can keep it in a garage or a basement or even outside if the temperature range is ok. Refer to the troubleshooting guide below to solve any stinky problems.

Troubleshooting

The "Worm Lady" in our video is named Susan Quinby-Honer from Red Hen Enterprises and she has graciously provided me with this simple troubleshooting guide. If you want to print it out for home use you can download the document

Troubleshooting Guide
Problems Causes Solutions
Bin smells bad

• Overfeeding

• Food scraps exposed

• Bin too wet

• Not enough air

•Stop feeding for two weeks

• Bury food completely

• Mix in dry bedding; leave lid off

• Fluff bedding; drill more holes in bin

Bin attracts flies

• Food scraps exposed

• Rotten food

• Too much food, esp. citrus

• Bury food completely

• Cover with bedding

• Don't overfeed worms

Worms are dying

• Bin too wet

• Bin too dry

• Extreme temperatures

• Not enough air

• Not enough food

• Mix in dry bedding; leave lid off

• Thorougly dampen bedding

• Move bin where temp is between 55 and 77 deg F

• Fluff bedding; drill more holes in bin

• Add more bedding and food

Worms crawling away

• Bin conditions not right

• Excess vibration

• See solutions above. Leave lid off and worms will burrow back into bedding

• Eliminate vibrations

Mold forming • Conditions too acidic • Cut back on citrus fruits
Bedding drying out • Too much ventilation • Dampen bedding; keep lid on
Water collecting in bottom

• Poor ventilation

• Too many watery scraps

• Leave lid off for a couple days; add dry bedding

• Cut back on coffe grounds and scraps with high water content

 

Where can I find more information?

Books

I read the book Worms Eat My Garbage but there are many great books about worm composting. Here is a selection of worm books available from amazon. Please try to order used books if they are available! Save a tree!

Online Resources

General Information
WormWoman.com

 


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