Worm Composting is a Great Way to Care for Your Yard and the Environment
Indoor worm composting is a fantastic way to increase your home composting operation. How does worm composting differ from regular composting? After all, aren’t worms involved in regular composting? Don’t most outdoor compost piles have lots and lots of earthworms all throughout?
Yes, common earthworms are an important component in normal composting. However, worm composting, or vermicomposting, is a bit different. These are some of the key differences:
- Worm composting uses a different kind of worm than ground or soil worms that you find in your compost pile
- Worm composting can be, and often is, done indoors
- Worm composting is typically done in a much smaller, enclosed container
- Worm composting is easy to do year-round.
So, why compost with worms?
- Great for recycling food scraps
- Worm castings are extremely nutrient-rich, so much so that it is often called “black gold”
- Great way for kids to learn about composting and worms.
Here are some of the important considerations when setting up and operating a worm composting container.
As stated, your typical earthworm you find in your yard can’t be used. First of all, you can’t just go out to the garden and dig up some soil worms to create a worm compost bin.Tthere are two species of worms that can be used in worm composting: Eisenia foetida and Lumbricus rubellus. Both are commonly referred to as red worms, in the composting business.
The easiest way to obtain these worms is to buy them. When purchasing, assume two pounds of worms will eat about one pound of food waste per day. They can be purchased online or at a composting specialty store. Compost stores are hard to find, though. On-line is most likely your best bet.
Building your own worm system is not difficult. The following are things to keep in mind if you do so:
Worms need a warm, dark, moist environment. An opaque, enclosed plastic container indoors, with air holes for air flow is the ideal situation. The moisture should be like a wrung out sponge. A plastic tub works great for the DIY composter.
The majority of the contents in the container should be bedding material. This is made up of coarse, high-carbon materials, such as shredded paper or cardboard, shredded leaves, chopped up straw, pulverized egg shells or peat moss. The bedding provides protection and living space for the worms as well as good compost-balancing material. The food scraps you should include are mostly fruit and vegetable scraps and peels, pulverized egg shells, tea bags and coffee grounds. Don’t include meat, dairy products, oily food or grains. When you add the food bury it under some of the bedding material.
There are a number of purchased systems that work great, and make things a little easier. If you do go this route, get a “flow-through” system, or “continuous flow” system. This allows you to put the compost in one end, and take out the compost from the other end. Again, this is something that is easier to get on-line, and Amazon.com has a number of different kinds, all highly rated, and many which are eligible for free shipping.
Fill the plastic container about ¾ full of bedding. Add food scraps often enough to keep the worms well fed. If you do this you should be able to harvest a nearly-full container of compost in 3-5 months. Once you harvest the compost use it immediately in your flower beds or mix with potting soil.