Vermicomposter: how does it work?

What is the difference between a composter and an earthworm? How to begin? Which one to choose when living in an apartment? All our answers.

How to reduce organic waste, especially in apartments? One of the proposed solutions is the production of compost worm composter. How does it work, which one to choose? How many worms do you need? Here are our answers.

What is a worm composter for?

A worm composter allows you to recycle kitchen waste while producing high quality fertilizer for your plants.

A worm composter is a closed container in which organic waste (e.g. fruit and vegetable scraps) is decomposed by the action of earthworms and microorganisms such as bacteria, yeast and fungi.

Earthworms help mix, aerate and break down organic waste, creating high-quality compost. This compost makes it possible to harvest a dark brown juice, called vermicompost leachate or “tea”, highly concentrated in minerals and trace elements. This “tea” is a very concentrated fertilizer. Simply dilute it in water to fertilize your plants.

What is the difference between a composter and an earthworm?

Both solutions enable the decomposition of organic waste (also called bio-waste).

  • Traditional compost only uses microorganisms such as bacteria, yeast and mold.
  • Vermicomposting also involves the action of vermicomposting worms.

Vermicomposters are a good solution for making compost in the apartment: in fact, the action of earthworms shortens the time of making compost. This helps to reduce mold in the waste and therefore odors and the arrival of insects. Compost is also of better quality.

A worm composter is best if you only need to recycle kitchen waste. Their sizes are suitable for use in apartments. They will find their place on your terrace, balcony, basement or even the kitchen. When handled correctly, the worm composter does not emit an odor.

If you have a garden and have a lot of material to recycle, it is better to use simple compost: household waste, but also green waste (dried leaves, branches, grass, etc.)

What temperature should the worm composter maintain?

Vermicompost worms do not tolerate frost and can die at negative temperatures. Between 0 and 5 degrees, the worms go into a kind of hibernation, and up to 15 degrees their activity is slowed down.

They also do not tolerate heat well: above 25 degrees it is important to place the worm composter in a cooler place. At temperatures above 35 degrees, the worms will try to escape the tank… or they won’t survive.

A worm composter is therefore ideal for your home. The ideal temperature for their flowering is between 15 and 25 degrees.

If your bin is outside, make sure it is shaded during the summer months. During extreme cold or heat, you can place it in an apartment, basement, laundry room or garage.

A worm composter placed outside must be protected from wind and rain.

What kind of worm do you need in your composter?

You can’t just put any earthworms in the composter. The ones we find in our gardens like to burrow deep into the ground, whereas the earthworms used in composts must be able to thrive in a few centimeters of material.

Eiseinia Fetida AND Eisenia Andrei are the most used worms for vermicomposting in France. Other species can be used in warmer areas, such as Eisenia hortensis. Others tolerate the cold better, like Lumbricus Rubellus.

These worms reproduce quickly, but their population self-regulates depending on the food you provide them and the space they are given.

Here is the amount of worms needed to start composting:

  • For 2 people: 250 g of compost worms
  • For 4 people: 500 g of compost worms
  • For 6 to 8 people: 1000 g of compost worms

You can buy worms at garden centers or online. With several websites, it’s also easy to find compost worm donors in your area.

Which worm composter to choose?

A plastic worm composter will be lighter and easier to clean.

The size of your worm composter should match the size of your household: are you going to put a lot of waste in it? In this case, choose a worm composter with several floors.

AND plastic auger composter they will be lighter and easier to clean, but perhaps less aesthetic. However, plastic materials do not protect against temperature changes. If you choose a plastic model, it is best to place your basket inside.

THE wooden auger composter it is often more aesthetic than plastic and is more resistant to temperature changes. On the other hand, it can turn gray or become deformed.

THE terracotta worm composters they are the most resistant to temperature changes. Some can even be buried in the garden or in a large flower pot. Others can be placed in the apartment. Some models even allow plants to be planted above the compost.

How to start a worm composter?

Build different levels of your worm composter.

It’s time to prepare the “bed”, the environment in which the worms will develop. This material must not be compacted and must remain moist and well ventilated. It must be at least 5 centimeters thick.

Place a dry sheet of cardboard on the bottom of the container. Then cut cardboard, egg cartons, rolls of paper towels and/or newspaper into small pieces. Avoid materials that contain glue and printed office paper (the ink can be harmful). Submerge them in water, wring them out, then spread the wet materials on the bottom of the compost bin on a dry board.

Place your worms on this litter with a small piece of waste and wait a week before placing your regular household waste.

What can you put in a worm composter?

You can place your waste in the worm composter at any time. However, be careful not to contribute too much at once and add paper or cardboard to each of your waste.

  • Raw or cooked fruits and vegetables (leftovers, peels) excluding citrus fruits, stones and hard peels such as melons
  • Crushed eggshells
  • Coffee grounds, tea
  • Plants, leaves and flowers
  • Cardboard
  • Egg carton
  • Paper towels and napkins
  • A roll of toilet paper
  • Newspapers, newspapers
  • Dead leaves

To avoid unpleasant odors or seeing insects rooting in your compost, do not add:

  • Citrus
  • Cores
  • Fruit and vegetable skins are too hard
  • Potatoes, sweet potatoes
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Butter
  • Oil
  • Dairy products
  • Bread flour
  • Rice
  • Pasta

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