Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Adventures of Guinea Pigs & Vermicomposting Worms

Guinea pigs + red wigglers = a great team!
I have worms that help me with guinea pig maintenance.  Can you believe it?  It's true, and they are a great team!
Red wigglers
I am always on the lookout for more ways to live an organic and "green" lifestyle.  I have been adventuring in vermicomposting off and on for a couple years now.   We have an outdoor compost full of worms, however in the winter, it's sooooo cold!  I started with the idea of a nice Worm Factory kitchen composter for in the house, at least seasonally.   This is working wonders for all the spare veggie scraps, junk mail, cardboard tubes, etc. that we frequently have around the house - and we have a lot!  I also toss in plant prunings and the occasional shredded egg carton.  I use peat moss, newspaper, and coco fiber for a base substrate

I got to thinking, if these little red wiggler worms are doing so well for the scraps, how would they do with guinea pig waste, leftover hay, veggies, and cardboard scraps that come out of the cage cleanings?  It would be amazing to not have to take the fleece scraps all the way outside to clean them.  A healthy worm composter works very quickly and efficiently at breaking things down, especially waste, as this is commonly used for rabbits.   It also doesn't stink when maintained properly.  I am fortunate to have a BAZILLION (estimated) red wiggler worms so it was no issue for me to get another vermicompost started.  For the guinea pig cage cleaning, I am using a large storage tote with ventilation holes all around it, and in the bottom for drainage.   It sits on another lid to catch any drainage which is also used as a very rich plant fertilizer.   You would be unlikely to find another fertilizer that could beat the amazing organic fertilizer produced by these worms.

Vermicomposter used for the guinea pig waste.
I have my fleece in the cage in segments, which I have some more detail on over on this post, as well as additional pictures.   I take out each fleece section and sweep it off with a firm bristled brush, that I hang on a hook on the cage stand.   I sweep everything off into the tote made vermicomposter that is full of worms.   They come up and get to work shortly after the "new" waste is added.  I also throw on some shredded junk mail on top and occasionally some excess spoiling fruits or veggies that are too much for my small kitchen vermicompost.

Inside the vermicomposter.
To make things easier, I put my vermicompost up on plant caddies for easy moving on wheels.  This way it can be rolled in and out of a closet or under the cage without much effort for out of sight storage.  It may not be pretty, but it's great for our environment and it makes cleaning so easy!   I save valuable time too, especially not having to bundle up and go outside.
Clean cage!
If you are interested in trying worm composting, I encourage you to do some research in setting up a good functional compost with the right substrate and right kind of worms.  It is important that you have all the right things to make it a successful, productive environment for breaking down waste.  Once you have that down, the rest is a breeze!
Chewy approves of vermicomposting.

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