Vermicomposting-Is the process of using worm, mainly red wigglers, to break down food scraps into compost.
So why compost with with worms? They are great for small spaces, can be used indoors and have very little to no smell. Red wigglers are used generally because they stay near the top of the soil and can eat at last half of their weight every day. As they churn thru your veggie scraps they are producing castings which is a crumbly, granular organic matter that is full of nutrients. The end result is a mix of castings and decomposed organic matter. This matter is a mix that is easier for plants to use and has a higher ratio of beneficial microbes. This helps the plant fend off disease and bugs.
Interested in trying it yourself? We got lucky and found our first set of worms on freecycle! You just never know what you'll see on there! Even if you have to buy a few worms, chances are that you have everything else you'll need to get started. A simple worm bin can be created with a large plastic tote with a well fitting lid. Or it you are in an apartment a very small bin can be used, but be sure you have a way to drain the moisture off.
- Find a spot that will get some sun but won't be too hot. If it is an area protected from the weather that is best.
- Take your bin and punch or drill small holes in the bottom about 1/4 in size evenly spaced all along the bottom. Then do the same to the top and a few on the sides for Ventilation. You don't want them to get too hot.
- Place supports that will keep the bin up off of the ground to allow for drainage and circulation.
- Place a tray under the bin to collect the compost tea that will drain.
- For the bedding material, you can tear strips of newspaper and then dip them in water. this mimics their natural bedding of leaves. Fluff the paper and fill the bin about 2/3 the way full. It should be a bit damp to the touch.
- Take a bit of dried leaves and a cup garden topsoil to the top of the paper to add a bit of grit for the digestion process of the worms.
- Now you're ready to add worms to the bin. Sprinkle them in and cover.
- Bury your vegetable scraps in the paper. Don't put in meat, dairy or cooked items. if you are adding citrus only do so in small quantities because of the acidity of the peels.
There is great information on all kinds of worm composters on workingworm.com
Okay the worms are working away, when do you get compost and how do I get it out with out losing my worms? It should take the worms about 3 to 4 months to go thru their original supply of paper. You can push the material in the bin to one side and fill the other side with fresh materials. Only place food on the new side. In a week or so all the worms should have moved over to the new side and the old can be taken out to use in house plants, around garden plants and for an extra boost when planting! Be sure to share with your friends so they know how smart and green your being!
Do you seem to ave more veggies scraps than your bin can handle? Start another one or check out the advanced bins available for sale. We started with a normal bin but we have a large amount of garden peels and waste when we are canning. The chickens are very spoiled but they have to share with the worms too. We graduated to a leveled container like the "Worm Factory". It has removable bins and a section on the bottom that collects the "Tea". To start the food and paper or placed in the lowest bin and as it fills we place the paper and food into the next bin and they will travel up to it. Then it's easier to harvest your compost.
This is one of our Worm Composters, I love the spigot it makes taking the tea out so much easier. It's about to be surrounded by Tiger Lilies. Spring is definitely here.
Either way you have a great process for creating your own compost. I started the A to Z Challenge with Alpaca poop and now I've worked my way around to worm poop. I'm afraid I'm seeing a trend here. Check back next week and I'll have another DIY for the garden!