Getting Started With Worm Composting
Have you have been looking for a way to recycle kitchen scraps without taking up the space of an outdoor compost pile? Consider starting your very own container worm composter! Worm composting (also called “vermicomposting”) is an easy way to create an abundant amount of organic fertilizer for all your plants while recycling hundreds of pounds of paper and food waste in your home. You simply create an enclosed space, add special worms, feed them with kitchen scraps and paper, then use the worm’s digested waste (called “castings”) on your houseplants, garden, and yard. It’s easy and it’s also fun!
You can get started with your new worm composter quickly and easily. There are several premade worm composters available, including the *******, available at a Zamzows near you. These premade kits will have everything you need to build your composting bin (except the worms that need to be purchased separately at Zamzows. After a few minutes of set-up, you’ll be able to add your new wriggling friends and begin the process!
Composting Worms Vs. Nightcrawlers
Compost worms are not the same as the nightcrawlers you find in your yard. Composting worms, also known as red wrigglers, are a specific species of earthworm. Nightcrawlers will not take to your compost bin and if you use them, chances are high that you will find them outside your composter, looking for greener pastures. Red wrigglers are much smaller, and they will eat their body weight in paper and food scrapes every day! They will also double in population every 60 days. It’s estimated, that people produce almost 900 pounds of food and paper waste each year. In just one year, your half pound of worms will grow in population to 3 pounds. After one year, you’ll be recycling 1095 pounds of food and paper waste each year!
It’s important that you don’t overfeed your worms. While they do eat a lot, if they can’t eat fast enough, the food scraps will rot, attract flies, and begin to smell. If fed and cared for properly, your worm bin should never have an off-putting odor. It’s a good idea to use a separate, small container to keep your food scraps in between feeding. In addition to food scraps, the worms eat a lot of paper. Junk-mail, newspapers, and bills you don’t want to pay yet, all make great sides for your wrigglers. I like to chop up my food scraps into small pieces and shred your paper before feeding (no plastic or staples, of course). Collect your waste for a few days and add it to your bin as your worms have eaten most of their last meal.
- Greens – no dressing
- Banana peals
- Avocado skin
- Fruit scraps
Foods to avoid
- Coffee grounds
As you add food to your composter, you may notice the castings (worm’s digested waste) begin to dry out. If the castings and food are drying out, pour a few cups of water over the top of the food. Be sure the tap on the collection tray is closed. After adding water, you can collect excess water from the collection tray. This water passing through the rich castings creates a fantastic, nutritious, ready-to-use tea for your houseplants and garden.
Using Your Earth Worm Castings
As your working tray fills up, you can add your second working tray on top. Your worms will migrate up to the top tray as food gets added to the new tray. Once you have a few inches of castings in your top tray, you can use the castings in the lower tray. It’s a good idea to use all the castings in each tray at once. Add them to the top of your houseplants and incorporate them around the base of all your vegetables. You can mix them with Dr. JimZ’s Chicken Soup for the Soil, making a powerful compost tea for trees, shrubs, and stressed spots in your lawn. You’ll be amazed by the results, and they will not burn your plants, no matter how much you use.
Indoors or Outdoors
If you have space, you can easily keep your worm composter indoors all year long. Your composter should never smell, you may even forget they are there. While outdoor temperatures are above 40 and below 80 degrees, you can leave them outside, preferably in a shaded and sheltered location.