What is worm composting?
Worm composting is an easy way to decompose your extra organic matter into food for your plants. [Sometimes known as vermi-composting]
Why would I want to do this?
Aside from the fact that you might just like worms, it’s a great way to reduce how much you throw away. 20-40% of your garbage is food waste.
Let’s get started!
Build a home for your worms!
Buy a 15 gallon plastic opaque bin with a lid. Compost worms need air so drill holes in the sides (10 per side) and lid. Use a 1/16" inch drill bit. Also drill ¼" holes in the bottom for drainage.
Prep your bin!
Fill your bin with moistened bedding. Bedding is usually paper products like cardboard, newspaper, shredded paper, even leaves. When using newspaper tear it in 1 inch strips and soak in some water, then wring it out and put in the bin. Put in a layer of your veggie/fruit scraps. Layer that with more moistened bedding. Put a handful of soil in there. Worms have a crop and gizzard (like birds) and need help digesting your food. You can let the bin sit for a few days while you wait for your worms.
These aren’t regular worms from your garden; these are Eisenia fetida! (also know as red wrigglers) These worms thrive in compost environments that are more acidic than earthworms can tolerate. Worms eat about ½ their body weight a day. So if you buy 1 lb of worms (around 1000 worms) they will eat ½ lb of organic material a day. That’s 3 ½ lbs a week! (If you don’t know how many lbs of veggie scraps you throw away, just measure it for a week to find out what amount of worms is right for you).
Where to buy composting worms – Eisenia fetida (also spelled "˜foetida"˜)
You can buy them online at www.worms.com or you can buy them at your local bait shop!
- do keep the bin around 59-80 F
- do keep the bin moistened with a spray bottle if you see it drying out they like 60-80% moisture in their habitat. Just don’t drown them, they can’t swim
Food your worms will love:
- Fruit and veggie waste
- Coffee grounds and tea bags
- Eggs shells
- In moderation – starches (bread, mashed potatoes, etc)
- In moderation – citrus peels (take a while to break down)
- don’t keep your bin outside: your bin isn’t insulated and they will not do well if it’s too hot or cold
- don’t feed them dairy, meat, oil (this attracts pests and worms can’t digest it)
Some good websites to check out with your wormy questions:
Contributed by Kristin Swartzentruber, biologist
If you like these simple eco-solutions and are interested in saving money and making other some green living adjustments without necessarily spending a fortune, Green Living Hill Country will be happy to come out and discuss changes that will make a positive difference in your home or business.