Composting with worms is the archetypal win-win situation. Also known as vermicomposting, it offers a convenient yet eco-friendly way to dispose of your kitchen waste. All while still saving you money; with your homegrown compost, you’ll be able to fertilize your garden without ever having to buy fertilizer. Not to forget the worms as well — they get a comfy home plus lots of free food.
What Do You Need To Get Started?
The best thing about vermicomposting is that it needn’t be complicated. All you need is a bit of time and effort, plus these 4 key ingredients:
-Worm bin: This should be a sizable container (preferably plastic) with holes on all sides for drainage and ventilation. You could buy a ready-made worm bin from Denju Worms, or just recycle an old container lying around the house. Either way, be sure to use an opaque dark-colored bin that can be covered — worms don’t like bright light.
-Bedding: You’ll need to maintain a balance of nitrogen and carbon inside your bin, and that’s where bedding comes in. The good news is that you have lots of options here: leaves, straw, vegetable scraps, eggshells, unbleached cardboard — anything that’s organic and biodegradable, really.
-Worms: The crawlers you find in the soil around your home would rather nourish themselves than have you do it, so don’t go digging them out. What you actually need are redworms a.k.a. red wigglers or, botanically, Eisenia foetida. Unlike earthworms, red wigglers will only be too happy to populate your bin. A pound of worms can digest half their body weight every day — do the math and figure out how much of them you’ll need. Red worms are commonly available in fish bait shops.
-Location: Pick a spot that’s out of the reach of foraging creatures to keep your worms safe. It should also be shaded, with enough exposure to the wind so the bin stays comfortably cool year-round. Oh, and do keep in mind that rotting waste can be unbearably stinky — you don’t want the odor finding its way into your house.
Setting Up The Process
With all the requirements taken care of, it’s time to set up your compost factory:
-Break down the bedding into small pieces and toss it into the bin, mixing with water to give it the consistency of a sponge. Fill up to about three-quarters of the bin’s volume.
-Place the worms on top of bedding, but don’t feed them just yet. Leave them to settle overnight and commence feeding the next day.
-Worms prefer flora over fauna, so avoid feeding them any animal-derived scraps (fats, dairy, or bones/meat). Also, it’s recommended to chop up the scraps to allow the worms digest food quicker. Try to feed your worms every other day.
With good care and a favorable environment, the worms should fill up the bin with compost in 3-5 months. It’s at this point that will harvest your bin and begin the cycle all over again.