I need some advice. In preparation of another Wisconsin winter - one where I do not want to trudge through several feet of snow to to recycle my food waste in the compost pile - I had the brilliant idea to start composting inside through vermicomposting. So I am the proud new owner of a 5-tray Gusanito Worm Composter, only I have no idea what to do with it.
I quickly unpacked and set it up in my kitchen. I have talked to the bait shop across the street, they can get me a box of 2,000 red wigglers for $130. Is that a good deal? Do I need that many? 2,000 sounds like an awful lot of worms! Plus, I hear they multiply quickly. I have read the book Worms Eat My Garbage and poured over dozens of blog entries, but I know no one who personally vermicomposts.
My biggest concern is ordering the right number of worms. We are a family of three, sometimes four. When the group is together we go through a gallon-sized ice cream pail of waste every few days. Right now, it is just me going through very little waste other than a bunch of carrot tops. In September the number will increase to two, with not much increase in waste. By the end of October, things should be back to normal with plenty of plant material to harvest from the garden. The kicker is that they do not ship worms to cold regions during the cold months. The bait shop may be different, I need to ask. So whatever my colony is going to be I need to get it now and hope that they do not starve while waiting for the family to come together again. I am sure I could ask friends for some leftover scraps to tide them through. And, I have tons of paper! Can worms eat paper? Like office paper? Would the ink be harmful?
Another question is about adding dirt. I read that you should add five or six handfuls of dirt with each new grow tray that you add. Does anyone out there do this? Ever heard of "The Frozen Tundra"? (Football fans will know this.) There is a reason for that. I am not as far North as the Packers, but the ground is still very frozen here in the winter. I guess I am asking if this is necessary? If so, then I need to be storing a bucket of dirt now while I still can to use throughout the winter.
I know there must be some experienced Worm Wranglers out there willing to help a newbie out. Worm Lady? Anybody??? Leaving advice in the comments to encourage others would be most appreciated. You may also contact me directly flockmaster [at] greeensheeep [dot] com. For anyone else reading this that may not have any experience to offer, please send my plea out into the world via twitter and facebook. I know you vermi's are out there. Help!