How to Make a Vermicompost

Overview

Vermiculture, or the use of worms to create rich, black humus for the garden is a way to grow healthy plants, especially vegetables. Worms are the shredders of the composting world and turn scraps into compost in a matter of weeks instead of months in an outdoor compost pile. Worms produce coated castings that bind soil particles into water-, nutrient- and oxygen-holding sponges in which plants thrive.

Step 1

Acquire commercial worm composter with a spout to pour off the worm tea or make a worm composter using directions from many online resources. Shred six full sections of the newspaper and soak them in a bucket full of water for 15 minutes. Spread a 2-inch layer of wet, shredded newspaper on the bottom of the worm composter. Add four shovels full of garden soil on top of the newspaper. Thoroughly moisten the soil with water.

Step 2

Purchase 1 to 2 lbs. of red wiggler composting worms. Add water to the bag in which they arrive to rehydrate them. Wait 15 minutes. Release the worms into the prepared worm composter and moisten the soil surface with a cup of water.

Step 3

Feed worms 2 cups of scraps once a week, including coffee grounds, veggie scraps, dried leaves, rabbit manure, shredded newspaper and cardboard. Check levels of food and moisture inside the bin twice a week by digging around in the compost to see that the foods have been incorporated, and test the moisture by squeezing a handful of soil. Add water if the soil does not hold together or is dry in areas.

Step 4

Harvest vermicompost by piling the contents of worm the composter on a tarp in daylight. Allow worms enough time to migrate toward the bottom of the pile. Scrape off the top layers of pure vermicompost to use around plants in the garden. Return worms at the bottom of the pile to the worm composter and add 2 inches of wet shredded newspaper and two shovels full of garden soil to replace what was taken.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid citrus, garlic, onions, meats, dairy and oils. Worms will die if bedding material dries out.

Things You'll Need

  • Worm composting bin
  • 1 lb. of red wiggler worms
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Garden soil
  • Kitchen scraps
  • Water
  • Bucket
  • Shovel

References

  • University of Nebraska, Lincoln: Vermicomposting: Composting with Earthworms
  • University of New Mexico: Cooperative Extension Service: Vermicomposting

Who Can Help

  • Franklin County Solid Waste District: Vermicomposting: Indoor Composting With Earthworms
Keywords: Vermicomposting, Vermicompost, Compost with earthworms

About this Author

Suzanne Richmond is an avid gardener and small farmer who resides in Melbourne, Fla. She is an avid Central Florida vegetable gardener and has developed a self-watering container called a Growbox. She writes gardening- and poultry-related articles for Examiner.com, GardenGuides and Answerbag.