Composting with worms offers substantial advantages compared to using traditional composting materials, and definitely better than not composting at all. Hard-working compost worms, particularly red wigglers, or Eisenia fetida, are a boon if you provide them with a closed system such as a worm bin that resembles the moist leaf litter they enjoy in the wild. They'll create worm compost that works like nothing else when it comes to nurturing flower and vegetable beds.
Vermicomposting (composting with worms) can reuse more than half of the waste in a typical household garbage can, according to the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service. Household trash generally contains 32 percent paper and paperboard, 14 percent yard waste and nine percent food waste. Compost worms would like nothing better than to have those paper products soaked and shredded into their bedding, to eat the food and, in small quantities, the yard waste. For homeowners who pay by volume for waste collection, worm composting saves on garbage disposal costs. Government jurisdictions also can save money because composting reduces the volume deposited in landfills. One Quebec family, for example, was able to limit its trash to just one bag a month after it began worm composting, Yannis Themelis noted in a paper for the Columbia University School of Engineering.
Worm composting produces a soil additive containing five to 11 times the nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium of chemical fertilizers. The worm's gut adds a mucous component that adds beneficial bacteria, and delivers the nutrients in a gentle, safe, time-released manner. This process recycles organic matter back to the earth and adds quality in the process, saving money that might be spent on fertilizer.
Compost worms can convert organic matter to finished compost in as little time as three months, while matter in a traditional compost pile may take a year to decompose. In this short time frame, worms can even remove pathogens from spoiled food, as they destroy pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella, states Indian zoologist Arvind Kumar.
Worm composting can continue year-round in cold climates, unlike regular composting, which grinds to a halt during the winter. Worm bins can be kept indoors, even in apartments under the sink or on a kitchen counter. Bins also work well in garages or basements, or even in unheated sheds if insulated and heated via tubing with water warmed by an aquarium heater. The convenience of indoor vermicomposting can appeal to seniors, the disabled, children and others who could not lift a heavy, loaded shovel or pitchfork to maintain an outdoor compost bin.
Worms used for composting readily reproduce and so extra worms may be sold or given away to friends' to start worm bins, or for fishing.