Done correctly, worm composting is odorless, insect-free, and a great way to compost your kitchen’s vegetable scraps. Your reward is years of fun, worms for your friends, and most importantly, rich worm castings to add to your plants.
The worms used for home composting are Red Wigglers. These are a smaller variety than the earthworms in your yard and are better suited for living in shallow soil. If you can’t find worms locally, you can always mail order them. I got mine from http://texasredworms.com.
There are several great resources for bin plans made from a variety of materials. I opted to make mine out of three 10-gallon heavy-duty, lidded plastic totes. I chose this size because it will hold about 2,000 worms and it’s not too heavy for me to pick up when filled. You can use smaller or larger bins depending on your situation.
The bottom bin is to catch excess moisture called “chelate”. This is the moisture that drips down from the worm bedding and can be used as compost tea.
The next two bins are to hold the worms. The first sits right on top of the bottom bin. The third bin isn’t used until your original bin fills and will be used to start a new colony.
|Chelate aeration holes|
|Drill holes bottom of 2nd bin|
|Bin 1 and 2 with holes.|
|Moisten the paper|
|Add scraps and more paper to top it off.|
Once this bin get’s about 6” of finished castings and compost, you’ll want to move your worms to a new container. Add shredded paper and vegetable scraps to the third bin that you made. Stack this bin on top of the other two.
|Worm bin with all 3 stacks.|
Here is what I have learned to be a successful worm farmer.
1. Place the bin in a cool area away from sunlight. Under the sink or against an interior wall are examples. I have mine in the dining room against the wall.
2. Refrain from adding new scraps until they have consumed the previous meal. Excess feeding will cause the vegetable scraps to rot and smell.
3. Only use raw vegetable scraps. Do not add oils, meat or dairy. Try not to add too many citrus peels as the acid makes it hard for the worms to digest and could cause a harmful build-up. I only add them occasionally and only if all other citrus has been digested. I also don’t add eggshells because they also don’t break down fast enough.
4. When adding scraps, cover them with newspaper to prevent odors and fruit fly development. If you find that you still get fruit flies, freeze your vegetable and fruit scraps to kill the fly eggs. No need to thaw it before adding to your bin. We eat a lot of fruit and I got so frustrated the first time I raised worms in the house I evicted them to my outside compost bin. Freezing the peels restored harmony.
5. Worms usually only live for a year but lay eggs to replace themselves. You can keep a worm bin going for years and rear generations of progeny. Just think of it, your own worm dynasty!
I use the castings directly on my vegetable beds, container plants, and roses. It’s great stuff and quite the conversation piece. You will give a whole new meaning to “I have worms.” Happy vermicomposting!