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I have an indoor vermicomposting bin. It has served me well for 3 years. Since the bin is indoors, and I live in a small apartment, I'm fairly cautious with feeing the worms. I don't want to overwhelm my red wigglers or cause anaerobic decay.

But this spring I'm expanding the garden out on the roof and I need more dirt. This seems like a simple thing, but in NYC there aren't many sources of dirt except for ... buying it. Which I can't stand. That's why I started with the worms in the first place.

Is there a way to ramp up the bin for higher production? Many guides online talk about making worm food out of old ground dry soy beans that have gone stale, and other pantry items. But these are geared for making fat bait worms and that isn't my goal. Also I'd never use my babies as bait!

In any case, how can I go about getting the worms to have more offspring and eat more? What scraps are fairly safe to bulk up on for indoor set ups?

Right now I put in kitchen cuttings, but if I end up with a bad head of lettuce I might skip it since it seems like too much.

I have lots of cardboard, peanut shells, wilted leafy greens etc. I just need some advice about how to go about adding more to the system without throwing it out of whack or making a big stench.

Also, how aggressively can I harvest?

I really need to get more dirt over the next two months.

  • Soil = ground rocks + organic matter and water. You need the inorganic matter, and in this case you'll need to buy it. Worms can't produce that component of soil. – Graham Chiu May 21 '16 at 20:32
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Unless I'm misinterpreting what you're saying, you want your worms to produce more compost so you can use it for plants. Without any other type of soil, is that correct? Assuming that's what you're intending, you need to know that vermicompost should be used in roughly a 1 to 3 ratio to other potting mediums or soil, or comprise 20% of a soil mix, rather than vermicompost being used on its own. In other words, vermicompost is a soil emendment rather than a potting compost. If you want to create more vermicompost, you could consider starting another wormery so you've got two on the go, and double your production that way, but since it shouldn't be used on its own anyway, that might not be necessary.

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how can I go about getting the worms to have more offspring and eat more?

Get 4 more bins. Divide your worms. Feed them.

There is a finite amount of food a worm can eat. A worm will only produce worm casting in relation to the finite amount of food.

Worms will self regulate their population based on amount of available food, and space. Since it's indoors, you don't have to worry about cold weather slowing down the worms or killing them.

Those worms will eventually reproduce to fill the 4 new bins. You will have 4 times as many worms, producing 4 times as many castings.

I don't know if there is any science to all the claims of being able to feed certain food to stimulate reproduction. Some people online claim that certain foods make the worms breed more.

I've heard of all the things you are not suppose to feed the worms. I can only say that I've fed those things, and not had a problem. Onion. Citrus. Garlic. Whatever. My worms eat my garbage. They get all the vegetable trimming, fruit peel, melon pulp and seed, melon rind, and everything I scrape off the plate at the end of the meal. Fat. Gravy. Sauce. GRains. Pasta. Meat. Dairy. It all goes in the worm bin. Something happens to it. Whether the worms eat it, bacteria breaks it down, whatever. The worm bin is capable of composting all of my kitchen garbage, yard waste, plus paper recycling. Cardboard boxes, junk mail, newspaper, used paper towels, used tissue paper, grass clippings, pulled weeds, leaves, fallen fruit, the occasional varmint I shoot.

I don't use my food processor to make any special worm food. I throw in everything that people say not to. I don't have any fancy worm bins, purchased or manufactured. I don't even really have a worm bin. My worms are in 5 gallon buckets. Whenever there is a bunch of food waste, there is always some junk mail or something to go right on top, even if it's just a few sheets of newspaper. At every meal, another layer of waste goes in. Covered by more paper or cardboard if something came from Amazon. The whole box goes in. I don't cut it. The next layer of food goes right into the box.

I started with 1 bucket. I got a bucket of compost for free, from a local aquaponic operation. When I started using the compost, I noticed worms. When I only had about 1 gallon of compost left, there were still a few worms in the bucket. I started adding my garbage. When that 1st bucket filled up with worm castings, I got 2 more buckets, and added a gallon of worms and compost. Now I have 5, 5 gallon buckets, in rotation. Fill it, allow it to compost, then use it. I always save the last 6" of compost and worms at the bottom; then start filling it with garbage again.

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