How to Harvest Kitchen Compost

Overview

Composting benefits the home and garden in several ways. Not only does it get rid of kitchen and landscaping trash, it saves you money and benefits your landscape with rich organic soil. If you choose to compost only kitchen waste, the most ideal way to do this is to use worms (called vermicomposting) in a five- to 10-gallon composting container. After about two to three months you can harvest your kitchen compost and use it in your landscaping.

Step 1

Confirm that the compost in your container is adequate to be harvested, which is usually about two to three months after you started the composting process. Examine the compost for a rich dark brown color and a consistent texture that resembles thick, cylindrical clumps. These are worm castings (otherwise known as worm droppings).

Step 2

Lay a plastic tarp out in the sun (or under a bright light indoors). Carefully pour the compost bin contents onto the sheet. With the trowel create a couple of compost mounds. Scoop the first couple of inches of compost off the top of each mound and set aside. Let the mounds sit for 10 to 20 minutes, then repeat this process. Doing this makes the worms dive deep into the compost mounds to avoid the light so you can skim off the good compost that is ready to be harvested. Continue to skim off the top and wait 10 to 20 minutes until all the compost has been harvested and all that is left is a pile of worms.

Step 3

Prepare the fresh bedding for the compost bin immediately so you can save the worms and provide them another home. Line the compost bin with fresh bedding such as straw, leaves or shredded paper. It should be about halfway full. Moisten all the bedding with the spray bottle's water.

Step 4

Add the worms back to the compost pile before adding kitchen scraps.

Step 5

Add kitchen scraps to the compost bin for the worms to eat, like fruit and vegetable peels and cores, coffee grounds, tea bags, spoiled produce, flowers, old spices, and so forth. Bury items that may cause odors in the bedding.

Step 6

Pile the harvested compost and add the new bucket for future use on your landscape.

Things You'll Need

  • Composting bin
  • Trowel
  • Plastic tarp
  • Worm bedding
  • Spray bottle
  • Water
  • Kitchen food scraps
  • Bucket

References

  • University of Illinois: Home Composting
  • Compost Santa Cruz County: Harvesting Worm Compost
  • Worm Bin Composting
Keywords: harvesting compost, kitchen composting, composting kitchen scraps

About this Author

Lauren Wise has more than eight years' experience as a writer, editor, copywriter and columnist. She specializes in food, wine, music and pop culture. Her writing has appeared in various magazines, including "Runway," "A2Z," "Scottsdale Luxury Living" and "True West." Wise holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Arizona State University.