Why compost? Recycling the organic waste of a household into compost allows us to return organic matter to the soil. By participating in nature’s cycle, we cut down on garbage being sent to landfills.
Why compost with worms? Worm composting is a method for recycling food waste into a rich, dark, and earth smelling soil. The great advantage of worm composting is that it can be done indoors, which allows for year round composting.
Setting up your bin:
- Make sure your bin is clean and dry, wash it with warm soapy water if needed.
- Drill ventilation holes in the lid of your bin. These holes should be no more than 1/4 inch big.
- Add worms and food scraps then place the wet bedding on top.
What type of bedding should I use? When choosing the material for your bedding, you have a few choices. Choose the material that is easiest for you to maintain and most convenient for you to acquire. Options include: shredded newspaper, brown paper bags or cardboard; peat moss also works well when mixed in with the other materials. Try to avoid using white paper because it might contain bleach. Bedding should always be the top layer of the worm bin, meaning your worms and food scraps should be under the bedding. This also helps to prevent unwanted pests and smells. Overtime your worms will eat tiny bits of the bedding; add new bedding as needed.
How moist should my bedding be? Proper moisture is essential for a healthy worm bin. Make sure your bedding stays moist at all times. The paper should not be soaking or there should not be standing water in the bin, worms can’t swim. The paper should not feel dry to the touch; it should feel cool and moist. Worms need moisture to breathe.
What type of worms should I use? Red worms or red wigglers are one of the most popular worms for indoor composting. They are small and easy to maintain. In a healthy worm bin, one pound of red worms (about 1,000 worms) can consume about 3.5 pounds of food waste per week,. or about half a pound a day.
How much should I feed my worms? Keep in mind that the density, or softness of foods will also play a part in how much your worms can eat. For example, worms can eat a pound of rotten bananas much quicker than they can eat a pound of carrots. Bananas are much softer, especially when rotten so they will be eaten quicker. For best results cut up, blend or food process your food wastes then add those to the bin underneath the bedding. When you notice most of the food you put in has disappeared then you can feed your worms again. You can store your food wastes in a breathable container on your kitchen counter.
What do I feed my worms?
Good Scraps: Fruits, vegetables, tea leaves, tea bags, coffee filters, coffee grounds, egg shells and plain bread
Bad Scraps: Dairy, meat, fish, grease, oils, diseased, weeds, invasive plants, pet or human wastes, citrus and spicy peppers.
How do I harvest my compost? The easiest method is to sort the compost from your worms by hand, the more hands the better! You can harvest the entire bin at once or you can harvest small portions to acquire just the compost amount needed. You will find it is best to lay small clumps of compost and worm mixture on newspaper, shine a light or flashlight onto the clumps to make the worm migrate towards the bottom of the clump, collect the compost from the top of the clump and put into a container, and finally take the rest of the worms and any remaining compost and put them back into your compost bin.
Where can I use my compost? Compost is commonly used for container gardens, potted plants and outdoors gardens. When using your compost in container gardens or potted plants it is best to mix it in with potting soil when repotting. Make sure you do not exceed a 50:50 potting soil to compost ratio, too much compost will harm your plants. When using outdoors you can sow compost directly into the soil when preparing beds for the spring or fall. Compost can be used as a fertilizer for potted plants, container gardens or outdoor gardens. Simply sprinkle compost on top of the soil around your plants and water, the nutrients will trickle down into the soil and improve the health of the soil and plants.