How to Compost With Worms in Your Apartment

How to Compost With Worms in Your Apartment

How to Compost With Worms in Your Apartment

Composting with worms, also known as vermicomposting, can be a great way to reduce food waste and enrich your plants while living in an apartment. Here is a complete guide on how to get started with worm composting in your apartment.

Selecting a Worm Composting Bin

The first step is selecting the right worm composting bin. There are a few options to consider:

  • Plastic bins – These are often made of opaque or translucent plastic and can come in different shapes and sizes. They are lightweight and affordable but retain heat and moisture.

  • Wooden bins – Made of untreated wood, these are attractive but heavier and more expensive. The breathable material helps control moisture and prevents overheating.

  • Tiered bins – These have stacked trays that make harvesting compost easier. The worms migrate to the bottom tray as the upper one fills up.

  • DIY bins – You can make your own bin from plastic storage containers or 5-gallon buckets. Drill holes for ventilation and add bedding.

For an apartment, I recommend a small plastic worm bin that’s easy to maintain and conceal. Look for one with ventilation holes and a spigot to drain excess liquid.

Choosing the Right Location

Worm bins need the right conditions to thrive. Here are some tips on where to put your worm composting bin:

  • Place it in a well-ventilated area like the kitchen, laundry room, balcony, or closet. Worms need air circulation.

  • Avoid direct sunlight which can overheat the bin. Find a shady spot or cover the bin.

  • Keep the bin off cold floors. Place it on a counter or stack of newspapers to insulate it.

  • 75-80°F is ideal, but worms can tolerate 60-90°F. Monitor conditions.

  • Keep the bin far from loud appliances that vibrate like washing machines.

Choose a spot that meets these criteria but is also out of the way for your small space. The bin shouldn’t smell if maintained properly.

Selecting the Right Worms

Not all worms are created equal when it comes to composting. You’ll need red wigglers (Eisenia fetida or Eisenia andrei). Here’s what makes them ideal:

  • Rapid reproducers – Mature in 2-3 months and double their population in 60 days.

  • Hearty species – Tolerate a wide temperature range and enclosed environments.

  • Surface dwellers – Feed on organic matter on top layers of soil.

  • Obtain worms from bait shops, garden stores, online shops, or worm farmers. About 1 lb (1000 worms) can start a small bin.

Feeding Your Worms

Worms can eat about half their body weight each day. Their bedding and food is called worm castings. Here are some tips:

  • No animal products – Avoid meat, dairy, oils, bones, and pet waste.

  • No big chunks – Chop and grind food scraps into smaller pieces.

  • Balanced diet – Use a variety of fruit and vegetable scraps. Limit acidic items like citrus.

  • Bury food under bedding as it breaks down faster.

  • Don’t overload – Add only what they can consume in 2-3 days.

  • Grind eggshells as a calcium supplement and grit.

Maintaining Ideal Conditions

  • Red wigglers thrive in the right habitat. Monitor these factors:

  • Moisture – Bedding should feel like a wrung-out sponge. Mist with water if it dries out.

  • Aeration – Fluff and stir bedding weekly. Don’t let it compact.

  • pH between 6-7 – Sprinkle in crushed eggshells or compost.

  • Temperature 75-80°F – Move bin away from heat sources if needed.

  • 12-18 hours of darkness – Cover bin if needed or store in dark place.

  • Harvest castings regularly so bin doesn’t get overloaded.

Harvesting Vermicompost

After 3-6 months, the worms will produce nutrient-rich vermicompost! Here’s how to harvest it:

  • Move worms – Push compost to one side, add new bedding and food on other side. Worms will migrate over.

  • Sift compost – Use mesh screen to separate worms and add them back to bin. Collect compost.

  • Drain compost – Gravity and time will separate worm-free compost from excess liquid.

  • Let worms reproduce – Return worms to bin with fresh bedding to continue the cycle.

Use your vermicompost to fertilize plants! Worm composting eliminates waste while generating a free and organic soil amendment. With the right bin, location, and care, you can compost with worms successfully even in a small apartment. Let me know if you have any other questions!