Vermicomposting

Vermicomposting, also called “vermicomposting”, has been very successful with individuals for several years. This ingenious system makes it possible to produce vermicompost, an organic matter cousin of classic compost, as well as vermicompost tea, a concentrated liquid to be diluted.

This 100% ecological and natural method is incredibly easy. Finally, this is what most articles on the subject promise.

Make your vermicompost bin: not even afraid!

To make some savings compared to a vermicomposter coming from the trade, we rolled up our sleeves and decided to embark on the homemade. Many plans and videos explain how to do it on the internet.

The size of the vermicompost bin depends on your waste production and the space you have. Our experimental vermicomposter was designed for one person in an apartment. Because yes, the vermicomposter is ideal in an apartment: no odor and a small production of compost sufficient for the planters on the balcony.

The basic principle is to have an opaque structure (worms don’t like light) with interchangeable trays and a vermicompost tea tray. The interchangeable trays will be drilled with holes so that this liquid can drain down from the structure and the worms can migrate to the upper floor when a tray is full.

We used stackable storage bins with a lid on top. The entire operation took around 20 minutes and cost around thirty euros for a structure with two trays and a recovery tank.

Install the worms in the vermicomposter

Two solutions for obtaining earthworms suitable for vermicomposting: purchase from professionals or donations from individuals. It is towards this second solution that we turned. Thanks to the plus2vers site, we found a generous donor in just a few clicks 5 km from our premises!

Here we are with a bowl of vermicompost teeming with worms (yum!). Their little nest is ready for their arrival. First, a few sheets of newspaper were placed at the bottom of the lowest tray (the one above the collecting tray), as well as a few handfuls of carbonaceous materials in small pieces, moistened and then wrung out: corrugated cardboard, boxes of eggs or rolls of toilet paper cut into flakes of a few millimeters. Then the worms are placed on this “litter”.

At the end of a big week, we start to place some food for the worms, gradually increasing the amount and frequency of feeding.

Feed the worms: let’s empty our trash!

The basic rule to respect is to always give small pieces to the worms, to facilitate their consumption. In addition, remember to balance the intake of organic matter (kitchen waste) and carbonaceous matter. We do 50/50: to each portion of kitchen waste given, the same amount of carbonaceous materials is added.
You quickly get used to managing waste differently for the vermicompost bin. It is sufficient to provide an airtight container for collecting peelings and other kitchen waste to be able to collect enough material before transferring it to the vermicompost bin.

What worms can eat :

Fruits and vegetables, coffee grounds, tea bags, crushed eggshells, flowers and dead leaves of indoor plants, newspapers, hair, tissues…

What we don’t put in the vermicompost bin :

Ready meals, citrus fruits, onions, meat, fish, potato, dried fruit shells, dairy products. And everything that is not biodegradable or has been soiled, such as the cat litter box or the so-called “biodegradable” bags of large surfaces (which in reality are not).

Review of the experience after a few months

The vermicomposter has been in the testing phase for almost five months. The worms are doing well and a priori reproduce correctly. And still no suspicious odor detected in the kitchen! In summary: this is very positive.

The advantages :

Kitchen waste has been cut almost in half. In the year, this will represent several pounds that will not end up in the trash. And it makes us even more aware of the big mess we make every day with packaging and other non-biodegradable waste. It is, therefore, a good step towards “almost zero waste”.

The bin takes up little space and is hidden in a kitchen corner, behind a door. We have chosen to keep it indoors at all times. It is both closer to the source of waste and practical to avoid temperature fluctuations that could be fatal for worms.

The disadvantages :

Almost none. In fact, if you are well organized, vermicomposting is really easy. Nevertheless, we must be patient. Today the vermicomposter does not yet manage all kitchen waste because the colony of worms is still too small.

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