Vermicomposting at Home

Overview

Vermicomposting at home reclaims organic matter that would otherwise take up space wasted in a landfill and converts it to a crumbly, earthly material that benefits houseplants, garden plots and lawns. The magic ingredients in the mix are thousands of red wiggler worms or Eisenia fetida, whose manure or vermicompost contains minerals and nutrients not found in regular compost.

Step 1

Drill eight to 10¼-inch ventilation holes near the top of the sides of a plastic tote bin. Drill six to eight ¼-inch drainage holes in the bottom. Raise the bin up on bricks and place a spare lid or shallow tray underneath to collect excess liquid.

Step 2

Fill the bin halfway with newspaper torn into inch-wide strips and soaked in water with the excess water squeezed out. Add a cup of garden soil or compost and crushed eggshells to provide gritty materials to help shred food in their gizzards.

Step 3

Add several cups of coarsely chopped food scraps to the bedding in a pocket below the surface and cover up again with damp newspaper. You can also add coffee grounds, coffee filters and tea bags unless the bags are made of plasticine. Allow the food to sit for a week so that it becomes covered with bacteria and fungi for the worms to eat.

Step 4

Tip the red wigglers, best suited to shallow worm bins as they naturally are leaf-litter dwellers, gently out of their container and on to the top of the bedding material. Cover the bin with a lid to allow the worms to distribute themselves within the bin in darkness.

Step 5

Place more food in the bin about a week later, after first checking if the worms have finished their first set of scraps. Add more scraps in a second pocket not too far from the first.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not add potting soil to your compost bin, it can contain harmful chemicals, notes Boulder County Home and Garden. Do not add garden worms to your worm bin. Nightcrawlers and similar garden worms require deep soil to establish their burrows rather than loose, shallow bedding.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic tote bin with lid Spare lid Drill with bit set Bricks Newspapers Pail Garden soil Crushed eggshells Food scraps

References

  • Acme Worm Farm: Home Composting
  • Boulder County Home and Garden: Wiggly Wonders

Who Can Help

  • Green Nexxus: At Home Vermicomposting Bin
  • "The Worm Book"; Loren Nancarrow, Janet Hogan Taylor; 1998
  • "Organic Gardener's Composting"; Steve Solomon; 2006
Keywords: home vermicomposting project, worm bin startup, feeding red wigglers

About this Author

Rogue Parrish has written two travel books and edited at the "The Baltimore Sun," "The Washington Post" and the Alaska Newspapers company. She began writing professionally in 1975. Parrish holds a summa cum laude Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.