Worm composting or vermicomposting is a perfect illustration of “natural” recycling. Worms eat food scraps, leaving behind dark castings (i.e. worm manure) called vermicompost. Vermicompost is a nitrogen-rich natural fertilizer that commercial worm farms have found to be very profitable.
Steps to successful vermicomposting include Set Up, Worm Adoption, and Maintenance.
Location, Location, Location
- Fruit and vegetable peelings, cores, seeds
- Breads, cereals, macaroni
- Coffee grounds, paper napkins
- NO Meats, Fat, or Dairy (worms will consume these foods, but you run the risk of a very smelly bin!)
Always bury food at least 4″ down under the bedding. If the bin starts to smell or food isn’t breaking down quickly, give your worms a break and feed them less food. Worms reproduce quickly, so they should be able to eat all your food if there’s enough space and you increase the amount of gradually. Hint: wrap food scraps in moistened newspaper. It reduces chances of developing fruit fly problems and adds fresh bedding at each feeding.
Feed in a pattern, choosing a spot and rotate around the bin. Rotation provides excellent observation activities. How many days until the worms find the new food and to completely eat all the food in one location?
II. Worm Adoption
Red wigglers can be purchased at local bait shops or via the Internet. The bait shop owner may call red wigglers manure worms or red hybrid. Start your bin with about a pound of worms (1,000-2,000 worms). When the worms arrive, just place them on top of the bedding. Leave the bin exposed to light as the worms work their way down in to the bedding. Once all the worms have left the surface, bury their first meal, cover with the lid and leave them alone for a week or so to allow them to get used to their new home. Then begin their regular feeding schedule.