How to Compost With Red Wigglers

Overview

Worms are wonderful for providing fertilizer to your garden and for teaching kids about nature. When you get over any squeamishness you might feel about creepy crawlers like worms, you'll quickly learn that all creatures in nature contribute to the growth and sustenance of other plants and animals in many ways. Red wiggler worms are favored for vermicomposting because their excretion, called worm castings, is a rich form of fertilizer that you can mix with water and then use to nourish your vegetables, flowers, fruit trees and everything else in your yard.

Composting With Red Wiggler Worms

Step 1

Drill small holes in the bottoms and sides of two plastic storage boxes. Then nest them on top of an undrilled third box of the same size. The size of the boxes is up to you. One that is 8 inches by 16 inches works well for a worm composting system.

Step 2

Collect kitchen scraps for a few days. Such items as lettuce, carrot peels, apple cores, crushed eggshells and bread are good additions. See "Warnings" for items you should not give to your worms. Place the scraps in the top box.

Step 3

Make strips of newspaper or other paper that has been printed only with soy-based ink and soak them in a bucket of water for a few minutes. Wring them out and layer them on top of the food scraps you have placed in your top box.

Step 4

Put the red wigglers into the top box and secure the lid. They will soon crawl below the newspaper "bedding" and begin to consume the kitchen scraps.

Step 5

Feed your worms every other day or every two days and cover the food scraps with the damp newspaper or add more damp paper if needed.

Step 6

Move the top bin to the center position after about two months. Put fresh food scraps and damp newspaper strips on top of the scraps---the worms will soon crawl through the holes in the bottom of the top box to dine on the fresh food.

Step 7

Mix the finished worm castings in the middle box with water when it appears most of the food has disappeared and the worms have migrated up to the top box. When you mix the castings with water, use about 1 tablespoon of castings to each gallon of water. Water your vegetables, houseplants and anything else that you want to fertilize with this mixture.

Tips and Warnings

  • Use only red wiggler worms in a worm compost system because others, such as nightcrawlers, just aren't as good. Also, make sure that it is legal to mail order worms in your state. For example, Hawaii allows only a certain species to be imported. Avoid feeding your worms hot chili peppers, salty food such as potato chips, meat, all acidic food such as coffee grounds, tea bags, orange peels or citrus fruit. Do not add animal waste into your worm box.

Things You'll Need

  • 3 plastic storage boxes
  • Drill gun with 1/8-inch bit
  • Food scraps
  • Red wiggler worms
  • Newspaper
  • Bucket
  • Water

References

  • City Farmer
  • DEQ Louisiana
  • Hawaii Rainbow Worms
Keywords: red wiggler, vermicompost fertilizer, worm composting

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hiā€˜iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Barbara wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, GardenGuides.com and eHow.com. She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.