Worm composting, or vermicomposting, is a natural way to enrich the earth and get rid of your garbage. It essentially works the same way as regular composting--food scraps decompose naturally in a container outdoors--except worm composting adds worms to the pile and the decomposition process goes much faster.
How it Works
It works the way nature intended. Organic waste, such as dead leaves, rotten vegetables and lawn clippings, is stored in a bin containing worms. The worms eat the organic waste and defecate. The result is a nutrient-rich, dark soil called worm castings. The worms also deposit a mucous in the castings, which slows the release of nutrients and prevents them from being washed away when plants are watered.
Building the Farm
You can build your own worm farm using stacked plastic bins or an old dresser drawer. Drill holes 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter into the bottom of each bin. The bins need to be aerated with a number of holes. Add a layer of bedding for the worms. Dead leaves are the best bedding for the worms; it mimics a forest floor. Add shredded paper and soil to thicken the bedding. Moisten the lower layer until the soil is damp, then add worms. Add a layer of used organic material, such as vegetable scraps, on top of the bedding. The bottom bin should be filled with material. Next, drill holes in the next bin as you did with the first and stack it on top of the previous bin. Use this bin as your compost pile by adding old scraps and garbage into it. Store the bin in a dark or shady area. The worms will migrate to the top bin when all the food has been eaten from the bottom. Use the castings in the bottom bin as your soil; be sure all the worms have been removed before you do.
Only add material that was once living. Vegetables, cardboard, paper, lawn clippings, dead leaves are all acceptable materials for the worm farm. Do not add meat, oily foods, dairy products, or any plastic or waxy paper, like magazine pages.
Unfortunately, you cannot use earthworms from your garden for your worm farm. They will not eat as quickly and will likely die. The best worms to use are red worms that can be found at your garden or fishing center.
A general ratio to remember when feeding your worms is 1 part food to two parts worm. Start your bin by adding one pound of worms to the mix and then add 1/2 pound of food scraps each day. This way, the worms will not be overwhelmed and the compost will build at a quicker rate. Add water to the worm farm every other day. You can place your worm bins on blocks and insert a small tray underneath to catch any excess water. This water can be used as liquid fertilizer.