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Vermicomposting: What's That?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

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  • Volunteer Carolyn shows off her bin.

    Volunteer Carolyn shows off her bin.

  • A new setup.

    A new setup.

  • A bag of worms.

    A bag of worms.

  • Look closely!

    Look closely!

Written by Janet Errygers

Currently underway is the 3rd annual Sustainability Week, with a plethora of events across campus to highlight the week leading up to Earth Hour on Saturday. The theme for this year is “Food For the Future," and the aim is to provide workshops where participants can get hands-on experience, information about farming and growing food, and resources to do so. In short, the goal of Sustainability Week is to “sustain the ability of individuals and their skills in the community.”

On Tuesday evening, the newly formed Guelph Worm Composting Network held a vermicomposting workshop. Vermicomposting is a type of composting that utilizes epigeic worms to degrade organic matter. It can be done on any scale that you wish, from a small plastic bin to a large and intricate system.

According to the Guelph Worm Composting Network, there are several benefits to using worms rather than a traditional compositing method: the worms constantly move through the material, thus breaking it up and mixing it; it can be done indoors, all year; and the compost that the worms produce is one of the most high quality garden fertilizers that you can get.

In order to set up your own bin, the first step is to buy a container. The most popular choice for this is a Rubbermaid tote. Next, add the necessary drainage and ventilation. If the bin becomes too moist, it will begin to smell and the worms may drown. Next, add bedding: shredded newspaper and egg cartons are good for this. Then, age your bin for about a week so that the microbial community that helps to feed the worms will have time to establish itself.

After a week, the worms can be added. It is recommended that for a typically-sized bin, a half-pound of worms should do. This costs about $25 and the worms can be purchased online from local farms. Once they settle in, you can slowly begin to add small portions of food. Then, ever so often, you can harvest your compost for use in the garden or your potted plants.

The goal of the Guelph Worm Composting Network is to spread the message, provide information about vermicomposting, connect the those on campus who are interested in this method, and to promote composting on campus. Carolyn, one of the volunteers who helped to run this workshop and founder of the network, has been vermicomposting for three years and sees no downsides to it.

For more information about sustainability in Guelph, please visit: http://www.guelphsustainabilityweek.com

For more information about the Guelph Worm Composting network, email

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