Here are some pictures of my vermicompost setup. This may not be the correct way, but this is based on my previous experience with vermicomposting..
Warning: Contains picture of earthworms
(I am having trouble pasting this link in here, last three chars not part of link. please cut and paste in your browser)
1. first picture shows partially composted materials
2. second one shows the setup. The earth pot sits on a lid which is supposed to hold water as a barrier against ants.
3. This shows the cardboard bedding used. Also an earthworm can be seen. They love cardboard.
4. Next one contains the two species of worms in the bin. Anyone can identiy the species?. I guess they are red wigglers and african nightcrawlers..not 100% sure
5,6,7,8 – some more worm pictues
9, 10. this ones shows the food and it is covered with newspaper
11. The earthpot is covered with cloth and tied to prevent other insects and predators.
Earthpot is great for this setup as it helps contol moisture and temperature. And unlike plastic it does 'breathe'.
Comments / suggestions appreciated.
Here's the correct link: https://skydrive.live.com/?cid=f9830c01f5dbe4b1&sc=photos&id=F9830C01F5DBE4B1!120&sff=1
Copy up to !120&sff=1 and paste in the browser.
Looks good. Please update the album with finished compost.
Just to update, earthworms are doing great and have multiplied in great numbers. Can see lot of baby earthworms.
The system has come to the point of consuming nearly 50% of the organic trash( a few of them like citrus peels are excluded) my household produces every week. The great thing about vermicomposting is that we get good quality vermicompost in a relatively short period of time compared to the compost obtained from normal composting methods.
Looks like there are very few fans of vermicomposting here. let me know if anyone is interested and I will update this thread.
Is it as easy as it looks. Do not it requires more care. Actually i too wanted to keep a vermicompost bin. But i have to maintain proper atmosphere otherwise they will die. So what is that proper atmosphere and how you maintain it. ?
Moreover i can not locate a source for worms. What type of shops should i try. ?
What type of kitchen waste you put in bin. ?
Please do not stop the thread. Keep posting here.
Once the correct system is setup then there is no need for much maintenance. I usually check on them every weekend. They better be left alone to do their work.
I had a tough time with my previous plastic vermicompost bin. When the conditions in the bin changed, the worms tried to escape and gather near the rim of the bucket.
This time the difference is the use of porous mud pot which greatly helps maintain the moisture & temperature of the system and also promotes aerobic decomposting. Also the earthworm species used this time seems to be less mobile and seemed to adjust quickly to the conditions. For ideal conditions there should be correct moisture content. The biggest mistake is to overfeed the system which will result in the bin turning sour and soggy. It is said that the worms can eat about half of their weight per day. Feeding should be gradually increased ensuring that all the feed gets processed.
For my bin I mainly use kitchen vegetable peels/leftovers and occasionally fruits and egg shells. Egg shells provide the grit for earthworms which helps in digestion and also reduces the Ph of the system. I don't feed processed starch like cooked rice..etc.
I had a tough time sourcing compost earthworms for home composting, after the first experiment failed and all of them died. Finally I managed to get a few from one of the companies selling vermicompost. You can try the same in your area. Compost earthworms are different than normal earthworms, so do not try confined composting with normal earthworms. The last time I inquired the earthworms were selling at Rs300 per kg. I recommend starting with much less numbers and letting them grow & multiple accustomed to the conditions.
Let me know if you need further info, I will be glad to help.
I have uploaded the photots to Picasa and also added a few photos.
They system is doing great. I have a lot of earthworms now. The finished vermicompost in the sides can be seen in the last few pictures.
I can provide a few worms for anyone interested interested in starting their own vermicompost system but it needs to be collected directly.
Good to see ur compost bin. I have a plastic drum where I had put kitchen waste, flowers for composting. They are composted as they are lying there for almost 6 months. Two weeks back, I bought some earthworms (15 nos)from a vermicompost farm and put them in the bin. Last week when I checked, I cant see any earthworms in it. Not sure if they have all died or left the bin. The bin is lying in the terrace and its covered with a lid, but there are holes in the bin for air circulation. Any idea what could be wrong ?
Following are my lessons learnt from my previous attempt where i did the same as you have described. If you introduce worms to a new system full of decomposing material they will either die or run away. Excess decomposing stuff makes the bin acidic which may be too much for the worms to handle. A good vermicomposting system will not stink. Vermicomposting is an aerobic process of which the worms do the most work. Bad smell indicates an-aerobic process and the byproducts are bad for the worms.
Please check the following site to get an idea of how to get started,
Based on the above link, following are the steps I followed for the new system. They need some tweaking for Indian conditions.
1. In my previous attempt, plastic containers did not work very well due to hot/ humid conditions. They were always either too wet or too dry. Thats why I choose the earthen pot container. It helps maintain moisture and also provides aeration. You can still use the existing plastic container.
2. First use moist packing cardboard bedding and let the worms in to settle for a week. You can also use leaves and other high carbon items mentioned in the website for bedding. Initially they will try to escape but most of them will settle in. Do not feed them yet.
3. After a few days, check if the works are settled in their system. They can be seen within the layers of the cardboard.
4. Start feeding them slowly. Initially start with vegetable kitchen waste. After a week you can see that they begin to disappear and you can see the vermicompost. Initially they will prefer to eat the cardboard to the waste input, patience is required.
5. If you start with 15 worms you cannot feed more than a few grams of waste a week. I also started with similar number of worms about 3 months ago. But now I have more than 100 worms and can process about 1 -1 1/2 kgs of organic waste a week. You need to ensure your input to the system is in approximately 1:2 proportion to the number of worms in the system.
6. Slowly you can add fruit wastes and leftovers (except citrus ones). They like watermelon rinds. Avoid starchy items in the beginning and avoid non-veg items completely. Onions and garlic will not be processed. Anything that irritates our eyes will also irritate them.
7. If you system gets too acidic, you can add items like crushed egg shell which helps neutralize the PH. This also adds great plant nutritional value to the vermicompost and provides the grit for worms to digest.
8. Keep the container open and cover it with a cloth and tie it as shown in the pictures. This will help aeriate the system.
Also they should not be disturbed frequently and ensure ants or rodents do not get into the system. I have a water barrier and elevated platform as shown in the picture to do this.
All this looks like difficult, but it is not. Initially it requires some patience until the worms multiply. But once you have a stable system it is the quickest way to process your organic waste without causing a strain on your garbage landfills and also a great way to get compost for your plants.And the best part is, it costs next to nothing. I cannot recommend this enough.
For people who cannot handle worms, they can alteast start their own non-worm composting process. There are ready made kits available(for a price) for this,
I am planning to harvest the vermicompost next month and re-create the system. I will try to get pictures and post them.
Please let me know if there are further questions.
Thanks cameraoon.. nice explanation. now I get an idea. The pic of my compost bin is here..
Hi Sri, the bin looks dry. I am not sure about the bottom portions of the bucket. The worms need moisture to survive. But again it should not get too wet (standing water should not be visible). If you use kitchen waste, the required moisture directly comes from the waste during composting process. I never had to add water except during summer months. Some stuff like watermelon rinds naturally have lot of water. I am not sure if the brown stuff is soil or pre-composted stuff.
Also you may not want to add green leaves directly to the bin. They may add too much heat during composting process.
I recommend starting using the steps mentioned above and then adding more stuff as you progress.
Please don't get discouraged by initial failures. Once you get the hang of it, it requires very minimal maintenance.
Apologies. Have been busy past few months and did not have a chance to login. The earthworms are doing good and having a great life!. About 25% of the household vegetable waste goes into this. The difficulty lies in harvesting the compost afterwards, takes time and patience.
The rest of the household waste is going into a normal composting unit, which is nothing but mud pots (round ones) on top of one another. The composting seems to be happening pretty quickly. Recently harvested some finished compost from this.
Earthworms may be got from Manidharma Biotech. I can also provide some for a home setup.
I have purchased a composting bin from Daily Dump - called 'Kambha'. I liked the process and have been adding kitchen waste and leaves into this for the last one month. I think I need to wait little more to see the compost ready.
As advised by them, I stir the pot once in two days, sprinkle little water. I also add some dried cow dung, coffee grounds (that I get from my office vending machine). Definitely, it is not smelly, but I could see flies around it. I believe they are not harmful, but help in composting.
Now, all my kitchen waste is getting into this bin. I am happy that I have reduced some part of the waste that gets dumped in the land fills.
I shall post some images of my bin.
@Jay - if you do not have a little bit of open space, then I do not recommend earthworm composting. If the conditions are not ideal then they may try to escape and will not be a good thing especially in an apartment environment.
You can do regular composting using mud pots and do not have to buy the costly daily dump setup. i will try to post a picture of this. You can also use bio degraders which can accelerate this process.
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