Composting with worms (vermicomposting) is a method of green gardening. It is easy to do and particularly ideal for those who have limited space. When done properly, worm composting is odor free. Vermicomposting is good for the environment and helps to grow strong, healthy plants. Vermicompost decreases yard and household waste that would otherwise go into landfills. Vermiculture, or worm castings, improve soil structure and texture, as well as aeration, and increase the soil's capacity to hold water.
Drill several small holes in the bottom and sides of a 20-gallon or larger container. This container can be wooden, metal or plastic. Place it on top of plastic sheeting or a shallow tray to catch excess moisture. This moisture is called "worm tea" and it makes an excellent liquid fertilizer when diluted with water.
Lay shredded paper along the bottom of the container about three to four inches deep. If you don't have a paper shredder, strips of newspaper will work nicely also. A small amount of soil or old leaves can also be added to absorb moisture. This will also add important microbes that will aid in the process of turning waste into nutrient-rich fertilizer (worm castings).
Moisten bedding to the consistency of a damp sponge. Worms don't like it soggy, so if you get it too moist, add some more paper.
Add worms to the bedding and watch them disappear. The amount will depend on how big your container is. As a rule of thumb, add one pound of worms per one foot of bedding area. Red wiggler worms are the best type of worm to use, but night crawlers will work also. Worms can be dug from compost or manure piles, or purchased at any of the links in Resources listed below.
Add worms to the bedding and watch them disappear. The amount will depend on how big your container is. As a rule of thumb, add one pound of worms per one foot of bedding area. Red wiggler worms are the best type of worm to use, but night crawlers will work also. Dig worms from compost or manure piles, or purchase them by following the links in Resources.
Cover loosely with a lid or black plastic to maintain the proper moisture.
Push finished worm compost over to one side, after a month or two. Compost is done when no food scraps are discernible. A finished worm cast pile (this is your fertilizer) looks like black, granular jelly.
Lay fresh bedding on the side of the container that is now empty, and repeat the original process. Add fresh waste materials to the fresh bedding side only for about three to four weeks to give your worms time to move into the new neighborhood.
Remove the finished compost to be used in your garden, and add fresh bedding and waste to that side.