Worm composting is using worms to recycle food scraps and other organic material into a valuable soil called vermicompost, or worm compost. Worms eat food scraps, which become compost as they pass through the worm’s body. The “compost” then comes out “the other end” of the worm. This compost can then be used to assist in growing your spring and summer gardens! The reason why worm compost is so good for plants is because they are eating such a diversified and nutrient rich diet of fruits and vegetable scraps. Amazing process, eh?

worm composting processPhoto Credit: Cliff Beckwith, Allen Henderson, lessismorebalanced, eoringel

What you need: a worm bin.
My favorite type of bin for worm composting is an aquarium because you can actually see the worms at work! But really any 5 to 10 gallon bin, wooden box, container will work. Just make sure you clean it out well before use.

A worm bin consists of moist newspaper strips, fruit and veggie scraps, and worms. Worms need moisture, air, food, darkness, and warm (but not too hot) temperatures. Bedding, made of newspaper strips, will hold moisture and contain air spaces essential to worms.

You should use red worms or red wigglers in the worm bin, which can be ordered from a worm farm and mailed to your home.

What foods to put in worm bin:
We recommend using only raw fruit and vegetable scraps. Stay away from meats, oils and dairy products, which take longer to break down and can attract pests. Cooked foods are often oily or buttery, which can also attract pests.

Avoid orange rinds and other citrus fruits, which are too acidic, and can attract fruit flies. Try to use a variety of materials. In general, the more vegetable matter, the better the worm bin. Stay away from onions and broccoli which tend to have a strong odor.

Harvesting Your Compost:
If everything goes according to plan, the worms will eat like gluttons and eventually produce your compost. As time progresses, you will notice less and less bedding and more and more compost appearing in your bin. After 3-5 months, when your bin is filled with compost and hardly any bedding, it is time to harvest the bin. Harvesting means removing the finished compost from the bin. After several months, worms need to be separated from their “creation” because at high concentrations it can actually create an unhealthy environment for them.

To prepare for harvesting, do not add new food to the bin for two weeks. Then push all of the worm bin contents to one half of the bin, removing any large pieces of undecomposed food or newspaper. Put fresh bedding and food scraps in the empty side of the bin. Continue burying food scraps only in freshly bedded half.

Over the next 2-3 weeks, the worms will move over to the new side where the food is. Brilliant right? They then proceed to conveniently leave their compost behind in one section. When this has happened, remove the compost and replace it with fresh bedding. If worms are hesitant to migrate to other side of bin, cover only the side of the bin with the new scraps, thus causing the old side to dry out and encouraging the worms to leave the old side.

Using worm compost:
You can use your compost immediately or you can store it and use it whenever you begin your next gardening venture. The compost can be directly mixed with your potting soil or garden soil, which helps make nutrients available to plants. You are now just a short process (sweat and tears) away from this:

veggie garden

Photo Credit: Joanne

You can also make ” worm compost tea” with your compost. Caution: This is not ACTUAL tea for human consumption, just for the plants…and they love it.

The best instructions I’ve found are here:

How to Make Worm Castings Tea: 10 Easy Steps

Content Credit: http://compost.css.cornell.edu

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