How to Compost With Worms

How to Compost With Worms

How to Compost With Worms

Why Compost with Worms?

Composting with worms, also known as vermicomposting, has many benefits compared to traditional backyard composting methods. Here are some of the main reasons why vermicomposting is a great way to turn food scraps into nutrient-rich fertilizer:

  • Worm composting is fast – Worms can process a large volume of organic matter into vermicompost in just a few months, while backyard compost piles can take over a year. The worms speed up the breakdown of materials.

  • It produces high-quality compostVermicompost contains more nutrients and beneficial microorganisms than conventional compost. The worm castings are an excellent organic fertilizer.

  • Odor-free process – Maintaining proper moisture levels and providing adequate aeration prevents foul odors from anaerobic decomposition. A well-managed worm bin has little to no smell.

  • Ideal for small spaces – You can keep a worm composting bin indoors or outdoors in a small space. The worms don’t take up much room but make a big impact.

  • Reduces waste sent to landfills – Worm composting provides an eco-friendly way to recycle food scraps that would otherwise end up in the trash. Keeping these organic materials out of landfills reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Getting Started with Vermicomposting

Starting a worm composting system is relatively simple. Follow these basic steps:

Choose a Bin

You’ll need a specialized bin or container to house the worms. Some options include:

  • Plastic bins designed for worm composting
  • Wooden bins with ventilation holes
  • Stacking tray systems
  • DIY bins made from storage totes

The bin should be opaque and have a lid. Make sure it’s large enough to hold the amount of waste you generate but not overly spacious. The worms need room to move around but too much space is harder to keep warm.

Select Bedding

Add bedding materials like shredded newspaper, cardboard, peat moss, or coconut coir to the bin. This gives the worms something to burrow through and creates air pockets. The bedding provides the base structure.

Introduce Worms

You need red wigglers or Eisenia fetida worms specifically for vermicomposting. Add 1 pound of worms per 1 square foot of bin surface area. The worms will multiply as they have access to abundant food.

Feed the Worms

Worms can eat half their body weight in food per day. Bury food scraps under the bedding and rotate feeding locations. Good foods for worms include:

  • Fruit and Vegetable Scraps
  • Coffee Grounds and Filters
  • Crushed Eggshells
  • Tea Leaves
  • Shredded Paper

Maintain Ideal Conditions

Worms thrive when conditions are right. Follow these tips:

  • Temperature: Keep the bin between 55-77°F.
  • Moisture: Bedding should feel like a wrung-out sponge.
  • Aeration: Fluff up bedding regularly.
  • pH: Sprinkle in crushed eggshells or lime occasionally.
  • Prevent pests: Don’t let fruit flies infest the bin.

Harvesting Vermicompost

In 3-6 months, the worms will produce finished vermicompost. You can harvest the dark, crumbly worm castings:

  • Push all contents to one side of the bin. Add fresh bedding and food the other side. The worms will migrate over within a few weeks to the new side.
  • Screen out large particles and worms using 1/4″ mesh screen.
  • Apply thin layers of vermicompost as an organic fertilizer to plants.

Key Tips for Successful Vermicomposting

Follow these tips for thriving worms and efficient waste recycling:

  • Chop food waste into small pieces before adding to the bin.
  • Bury new scraps under the bedding rather than leaving exposed.
  • Don’t let the bin smell foul or ammonia-like – this means anaerobic conditions are present.
  • Prevent tiny fruit flies from infesting the bin by keeping it covered.
  • Cut back on feeding if you notice little worm activity or leftover foods.
  • Fluff up and aerate bedding weekly to allow air flow.
  • Drain and replace excess liquid that collects at the bottom occasionally.

With the right setup and maintenance, composting with worms provides free fertile fertilizer from food scraps and yard waste! This practice helps recycle nutrients and reduces our environmental impact.