Apelhof makes the first page a checklist for everything you need to do to grow worms and reap the benefits of their hard work--a twelve-step program leading to minimal food waste, worm castings for your garden, and worms you can sell, trade, or put in your aquaponic system. The chapters are written essentially as a set of answers to the fourteen most frequently asked questions by beginning vermiculturalists. Those questions are (with how we answered those questions in our own case in parentheses),
- What should I call it? (worm bin.)
- Where should I put it? (in the living room.)
- What container should I use? (plastic totes, for now.)
- What are worm beddings? (shredded newspaper.)
- What kind of worms should I use? (Eisenia fetida, or red wigglers)
- What is the sex life of a worm? (none of our business!--although "breeders" are the ones with the raised band)
- How many worms do I need? (probably about 1 lb. to start with)
- How do I set up my worm bin? (shred newspaper, add water, add worms, add food)
- What kind of garbage, and what do I do with it? (fruit, vegetables, bad cheese, and meat trimmings, and spoiled leftovers.)
- How do I take care of my worms? (don't let them freeze, drown, or starve--we want castings and worms! definitely don't overlook the drainage aspects.)
- What are the most commonly asked questions about worms? (for us, this list)
- What are some of the other critters in my worm bin? (springtails, mites, and occasionally fruit flies and fungus gnats)
- How do plants benefit from a worm bin? (worm castings!)
- How can I treat (food) waste as a resource? (by feeding it to worms to turn into worm castings!)
Additional sub-questions for us were, "How big should it be?," "What ratio of water-to-bedding should I use?," and "How can I get rid of fruit flies when they show up?" Appelhof addresses each of these in sufficient detail, but we would recommend planning for a bigger worm bin than you would normally need, if you have space for it. That way, you have a better chance at being able to keep up with all the trimmings during canning season.
Appelhof details a few designs for making wooden bins and points out a few commercially available designs that were around when the book was published (we have the second edition, from 1997). While the discussion of bin construction is good, the internet is a far more valuable source of inspiration for worm bin designs, in our opinion. There are numerous examples of DIY "fed-batch" bin and flow-through setups, and a greater variety of commercially available systems than the book indicates. Color photos and videos are also a big plus for the internet. We've learned a few other things about worm bin design that will be easier to share when we cover our setup in the 'Projects' section.
However, in general, Worms Eat My Garbage is a classic book with timeless advice for beginning vermiculturalists. Although some parts of the book are starting to become dated, Appelhof's process for getting a worm bin up and running will always work. This book truly should be required reading for anyone considering Annelid-based agriculture or food waste disposal.