Worm composting (vermicomposting) is a popular method of green gardening, especially for those with limited space. When done properly, vermicomposting is odor free. Composting with worms is easy, and can be done with materials that you already have around the house. There are several types of kitchen containers that will work for vermicomposting, as long as adequate ventilation and a method of drainage is provided.
Plastic containers work well for vermicompost. According to Soni Cochran, an ideal depth is between 8-12 inches. Drill ¼-inch holes in the sides to provide ventilation, and a few drainage holes in the bottom. Place the lid loosely on top. Plastic containers can be stacked inside one another, to begin a new batch. The worms will naturally move into the bin where a new food source awaits in a couple of weeks.
Wood allows better air circulation. Old dresser drawers or other wooden boxes can be used as composting bins. Black plastic can be stretched over the top to maintain moisture and block light, although a solid lid is preferable for outside bins. Start by using half of the bin. Add new bedding and food materials to the other half when vermicompost is finished. Allow a week or two for the worms to move next door before removing the finished product.
Glass containers, such as gallon jars, can be used for worm composting. Stretch old window screen over the top and attach with a rubber-band to provide proper ventilation. Drain the jar manually to avoid soggy bedding. The jar must be dumped onto newspaper and sifted through to remove the worms from the finished vermicompost, before starting the next batch. Keep the jar in a dark location.
What Goes Into the Container?
Worms eat breads; grains; cereal; coffee grounds and filters; teabags; eggshells; fruit rinds and skins; and vegetables and skins. Do not include meat scraps. Bury food scraps deeply in the bedding to avoid attracting fruit flies.
Your container should also include a layer of moist shredded paper for bedding and a small amount of garden soil. Add one pound of worms per foot of bedding area. Red wiggler worms are preferred, but night crawlers will also work.
Vermicompost decreases household waste that would otherwise go into landfills, decreases methane gas, and creates excellent fertilizer for your plants. When added to soil, vermiculture improves soil structure and texture; increases aeration; and increases the moisture holding capacity.
According to the U.S.D.A.'s Research, Education and Economics System, studies done by the Oregon Soil Corporation, have shown, "Vermicomposts have dramatic effects on rates of plant germination, growth, flowering and fruiting. Recent research at OSU has indicated that vermicomposts can suppress the incidence of arthropod pests, plant diseases and plant parasitic nematodes, and that weed seeds and human pathogens are eliminated during vermicomposting."
Any odor coming from the bin indicates that an unbalance. Drill more ventilation holes, add more bedding, or withhold kitchen scraps for a short time, as you may be providing more food than your worm population can consume.