Composting made simple using red worms. Indoors!

Written by Matthew on December 16th, 2010

Composting food scraps is easy and fun to do even in ones home. If you have an outdoor area to compost in then you can certainly compost a larger amount, but even if you live in an apartment you can still compost most of your food scraps.

Items such as newspaper, leaves, cardboard, dried straw, paper towels are considered to be bedding or browns. It is important to have enough of these in every compost pile. Because these items decompose slowly and they have extra carbon they keep the composting process under control and prevent smells. Also when using worms in the compost pile they provide the worms with an escape from the composting process. Worms will live in these materials and move in and out of them as they consume and compost the food scraps.

Most food scraps can be composted as long as they don’t contain dairy, meat, or to much oil or salt. Worms love vegetable scraps, egg shells, tea leaves and coffee grounds including the filters.

There are many good compost bins for sale. Some are more complicated then they need to be but any will work. The simple fact is that worms do not require a mansion to live in. I suggest that if you are on a budget (aren’t we all?) to get a plastic tote to keep your worms in. A simple sweater storage box available at most any store works great. Many other sites and people say to poke holes in the bin for air circulation and indeed this may help, but if your bin is not more than a foot or so deep that the hole are not even necessary. If you don’t place hole just simply leave the lid off. If a dim night light is kept on the worms at all times then they should not every try crawling out. A piece of cardboard placed over the top of the bedding in the bin will help keep the bedding moist and the worms happy.

For the first month or so the worms will not use much food. I believe this is because of two things, first the bedding will act as food for the worms and second the worms need a certain amount of living organisms in the bin in order to compost and digest the food. The bin will be lacking in these beneficial organism for a few weeks until the population is established. After a month or so the worms should be consuming their weight in food every week. They may consume up to twice that amount under some circumstances.

Collecting the castings to be used in the garden is easy. The red wiggler worms migrate towards the new food and up. This is of great benefit to us as it makes harvesting easy. In order to harvest casting and leave the majority of the worms behind, simply feed the worm to one side for a week or so and after the worms migrate to that side scoop the section up with the worms and set them to the side in a temporary container. After the worms are set aside, harvest about half of the castings and add new bedding and a little food. Now the castings are ready to be used in the garden and the worms can be placed back into the worm bin. Just add the worms and the material the were in on top of the newly added bedding and they will crawl down into the material and begin eating right away. The castings will likely contain a few worms and some worm eggs as well, but they should not be so many as to effect your bin to much and the extra space will promote the other worms to reproduce anyhow.

You can have a worm bin anywhere. They do not produce any offensive odors if cared for properly and can be placed anywhere a trash can goes. Composting with worms reduce the amount of garbage sent to a landfill, the castings help produce greener, healthier plants.


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