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How to Compost Using Worms

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How to Compost Using Worms

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Overview

Composting using worms (also called vermicomposting) allows many gardeners to provide their plants with a regular source of rich organic matter, especially those who lack the time or the space required to maintain a large compost pile. Providing your worms with the correct amount of daily food waste is essential to successful composting using worms. Although composting using worms may seem difficult, it's a simple process that uses easy-to-acquire materials and allows you to dispose of your household waste in an earth-friendly fashion.

Step 1

Determine the size of the worm compost container that you'll need by weighing your weekly household kitchen scraps with a scale for two to three weeks. Typically, you should allow approximately 1 square foot of space for every lb. of kitchen scraps that your family produces each week. For instance, if your family produces 6 lbs. of kitchen scraps and food waste each week, you'll need to provide a container that is 2 feet by 3 feet.

Step 2

Prepare your worm compost container. Possible options include most wood or plastic containers, including old wooden drawers and plastic tubs. According to City Farmer, Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture, your container should be 8 to 12 inches deep.

Step 3

Drill eight to 12 holes in the bottom of the compost container to allow for drainage and air circulation. Keep the container in a location that is between 50 and 75 degrees F.

Step 4

Collect and shred a range of bedding materials, including leaves, straw, newspaper, cardboard, sawdust and manure.

Step 5

Spray the bedding materials gently with a hose to moisten it, then arrange it loosely in the compost container so the worms can move more freely. The bedding should fill the container approximately 3/4 full.

Step 6

Select your compost worms and put them in your compost container. According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), redworms are the best type of worm to use for worm composting. The WDNR estimates that you will need approximately 2 lbs. of worms (roughly 2,000 worms) for every lb. of scraps you provide for the worms each day.

Step 7

Add food waste to your compost container by burying it in the bedding material. Possible options include fruit and vegetable peels, tea leaves, crushed egg shells and coffee grounds. Be sure to cover the food waste completely with the bedding material in order to minimize possible odor problems.

Step 8

Cover the compost container.

Step 9

Separate the worms from the compost. After approximately 2 ½ months, the worms will have converted the bedding and scraps into worm castings, a dense, dark brown material that resembles chunks of moist dirt. Gently move this finished compost to one side of the compost container and add new bedding and food waste to the empty side. Eventually, the worms will travel to the new bedding.

Step 10

Remove the finished compost with a small hand trowel and bucket either gradually or all at once, depending upon how much compost you need.

Tips and Warnings

  • City Farmer suggests that you avoid composting foods such as meats and dairy products due to smells and possible rodent problems.

Things You'll Need

  • Kitchen scraps and food waste
  • Scale
  • Compost container (wood or plastic)
  • Drill
  • Compost bedding
  • Hose
  • Compost worms
  • Compost container cover
  • Hand trowel
  • Bucket

References

  • City Farmer: Composting With Red Wiggler Worms
  • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources: Composting With Worms

Who Can Help

  • City Farmer: Books for Worm Enthusiasts
Keywords: worms in compost, compost using worms, composting with worms

About this Author

Regan Hennessy has been writing professionally for 11 years. A freelance copywriter and certified teacher, Hennessy specializes in the areas of parenting, health, education, agriculture and personal finance. During her time with Demand Studios, Hennessy has produced content for Ehow, Answerbag and Travels. Hennessy graduated from Lycoming College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.