Worm Composting Worm Composting
Does the idea of using worms to turn your non-fatty kitchen scraps into rich green compost interest you? Worm composting or vermicomposting is a low cost, easy way for a householder get a steady supply of compost while reducing our need for landfills and helping the environment. Here’s a quick overview on starting your own ‘worm farm’ or vermicomposting project.
- First you’re going to need a container. Plastic storage containers work well since they’re light and easy to deal with or you could make your own from scrap wood.
- The actual size of the container depends on how much food waste your family generates. Experts suggest you can determine how large the container needs to be by weighing your families food waste for one week.
- The container should have one square foot of surface area for each pound of food scrap, but it only needs to 8 to 12 inches deep (worms only feed near the surface and if the container is too deep you could end up with a smell).
- Drill a series of ¼” holes (say 8 to 12) in the bottom of the container for aeration and drainage. You’ll also need a loose cover that provides darkness for the worms but allows air to get in.
- Place the container on a couple of bricks or blocks of wood and over a shallow tray to catch runoff (you can use this water as liquid compost).
Adding the worm bedding
- The bedding for worm composting needs to retain moisture while allowing air for the worms to breath.
- You can buy commercial worm bedding at garden centers but shredded newspaper or computer paper makes fine bedding as well. Since paper by itself may tend to dry out a little quickly, if possible combining it with shredded corrugated cardboard will make great worm bedding.
- Prepare the bedding ahead of time by soaking it in a container of water for a day or so, then wringing it out and placing it in the container. Try to separate the layers so air can get in and circulate.
- For worm composting, you want to use redworms also called red wigglers, manure worms or tiger worms. Don’t use night crawlers.
- You’ll need about one pound of worms for each half pound of kitchen scraps. You can order your worms through lawn and garden catalogs or they may be available at a local garden center.
- Simply scatter the worms on the bedding surface and they will burrow their way down.
Adding food scraps
- Add the food scraps in small quantities. A good practice is to bury some waste about an inch deep in a corner and the next day add some more beside it. Work your way around the container burying a little each day and by the time you get back to the first spot, the worms will have eaten all the first scraps, leaving rich compost behind.
- It’s important to add your scraps slowly. If you add too much at any time the worms won’t be able to consume it and you could end up with a smelly composting container.
- Try to provide a mix of gritty material (coffer grounds, crushed eggshells) along with smoother materials (vegetable skins, potato peelings). This mixture makes it easier for the worms to digest the scraps so you end up with compost, faster.