“How should I start my worm compost so that the composting process is easy, successful, and enjoyable?” This is a paraphrased version of a question I get regularly.
But, this question only comes once someone has realised there’s more to achieving the desired result than just treating it like a food scraps rubbish bin.
Plato once said “The beginning is the most important part of the work” and when it comes to worm composting I agree.
Worm Composting Mastery Framework Step 1 is Setup.
I encourage you to be really intentional about setting up your worm compost. Part of a good setup is understanding where the end is, what the intended outcome is you’re setting up for.
For most people that intended outcome is more or less: getting the good fertiliser for the garden.
So we want to set the compost up to make the process straightforward and the end results awesome.
There are 4 key components to the Setup:
7 Day Environment.
Worm Composting Container and Location.
This can be any kind of tub that will both hold the contents securely and make the maintenance job easy.
May I respectfully suggest a tiered or layered worm farming contraption – even if you drilled out some buckets and made it yourself – is a waste of money and effort and will only add complexity and potential for ongoing struggle to maintain an appropriate balance between moisture and airflow.
I realise I’m quite positional on those tiered things. And I know you can find videos online of a fiew people’s tiered worm farms that seem to be in great condition and look to be easy to work with.
However, in the physical world, I’ve looked at many tiered worm farms in back yards and gardens, and not a single one has been in a healthy and progressive condition.
So until I start seeing, with my own eyes, tiered worm farms actually working out there in the world then I’m going to keep on saying throw the tiered thing away. Don’t even give it to someone else. Repurpose it into a seedling tray or a pet mouse house, or stand on it and break it so it can’t be used for worm composting again.
The containers I use for worm composting are
- 30 litre stackable tubs
- 45 litre stackable tubs
- 200 litre barrels cut in half long ways
- a 44 gallon steel drum cut in half cross ways
- a bathtub
- an ex commercial fishing boat eski chiller thing
- and the bottom half of a 1,000 litre pod.
None of them have drainage holes. That’s on purpose. Well, except the huge fishing eski thing, it’s ex because it has a little crack along that allows any liquids to leak out.
The stackable tubs and one of the half barrels are inside on shelves (not in the lounge or anything, but inside the bounds of the doors, so technically inside), and the other half barrel, the bathtub, the eski and the 1,000 pod are outside either under the carport or in the shed.
Location and Container inform each other to an extent.
Where you’re going to keep the worm compost will inform you about the kind of container you can use. But also, the kind of container you use will inform you about where you can keep it.
We never want it to rain into the worm compost so if you’re going to keep it outside, you either need a lid with the container (and you’ll probably need to drill some air holes) or you need some kind of roof above it.
Or it can be kept inside, or sort of in between such as in the corner of the carport or on a laundry shelf.
I can see why the tiered things sell well. They appear to remove the need to make the above decisions.
A simple 30, 40 or 50 litre storage tub will do just fine if you’re going to keep it somewhere where rain can’t get in. It will do much better than fine actually.
Consider a storage tub that you can lift and move when it’s half full with a worm compost. This can live inside or outside.
Or consider an old bathtub or laundry tub if it will live outside.
Here’s what we want to keep out, and to allow in.
- rodents and wildlife that want to eat the food scraps and or the worms
- extreme temperatures
- black soldier flies and other insects who want to lay their eggs in the compost
- the bedding
- the worms
- their food
- moisture of around 80%
- plenty of airflow
- tepid temperatures
None of this is difficult. But it is worth thinking about and doing well.
When we setup the worm compost with intention and a bit of strategic thinking, we begin really well. Which makes the rest of the process easier and the outcome – the light, fluffy, tumble-through-your-fingers, superb quality worm castings – so much easier to achieve.
Next week we’ll dive into the bedding (not literally!) to put in the worm compost. In the meantime, here’s some pictures of worm composting container possibilities.
What ideas can you come up with? Come and join us in Worm Composting Australia on Telegram and see what else people are using as worm composting containers.