Time To Increase Your Red Worm Bin?
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
I’m often asked often by new and intermediate worm composters, “should I increase my worm bin?” Well, it really depends on why you want to bump up the size of the bin, and what you hope it accomplishes for your worm composting.
In today’s post, I will discuss how worms live, and how increasing your bin size can impact goals such as growing or maintaining your worm population.
First, let’s jump into the basics of the red wiggler habitat.
The Red Worm’s Natural Habitat
The red worm likes to live in the top 6 inches of soil. In nature, you will find them populated in areas rich in decaying materials. You will find them in manure, leaf mulch and, outdoor compost piles. Red worms digest the decaying matter and produce a nutrient-rich fertilizer.
Common Reasons to Increase Red Worm Bin Size
It is important to know that red worms are not earthworms and do not live deep underground. You don’t need to have a huge bin to achieve this goal which is excellent. However, some people pick bins that are too shallow. Meaning, that they quickly fill up within a few months with worm compost.
In this instance, you may want to increase the bin so the maintenance isn’t as taxing on you. You could consider a slightly larger bin, a flow-through, or a stacking system. It is common for many beginner composters to change bins once they get the hang of maintaining their bin. You may want to try a system that seems easier to maintain, feed, and harvest the waste of the worms.
What’s your current worm population?
The first thing I usually ask people is what their current worm population is in regard to the size of the container. People new to vermicomposting worry as they see their population of worms grow. They wonder if they should find a bigger container. This is especially true as they see more worms swarming at each feeding. Now are you looking to grow your worm population, or are you hoping to stay in maintanance mode?
Do you want to increase red worm population?
The first thing you should consider when wondering if you should increase your red worm bin is if you want to increase your worm population.
An optimal amount of worms per surface area is about 1lb per sq foot of surface area. With that amount of worms, you can regularly divide a bin into two, every six months. This ratio of worms will provide you a vibrant and quickly reproducing. This process can help you start a bunch of bins at once and compost more food waste in your apartment than those with a single bin or stacking system.
Do you want to maintain your worm population?
If you want to simply maintain your worm population, you should just maintain the feeding patterns in the same sized bin. Red worms prefer to live in close quarters. You will notice around feeding time that all of the worms will cluster to the food source. When the worms are piled in one area, it increases their chances of reproducing.
Many fear their bins will become overpopulated over time. There is good news, this is rarely the case. If there is not enough room in your worm bins, your worm’s eggs will hatch less often. This provides a natural population control on your worm bins.
Simply maintain a regular feed and cleaning schedule, and your worms will sort out the rest!