Worm Compost Process

The Worms

Worms are known for their ability to ingest waste products and turn them into a nutrient-rich soil supplement. The principle of vermicomposting, or worm composting, is that worms will break down waste products fast and effectively while producing compost that will improve soil quality. According to Fine Gardening, a gardening resource, red wigglers, also known simply as red worms, are the best worms for composting because they can eat half of their own weight each day. These worms grow from 1/8 inch to 4 inches at maturity and are red in color with a skinny threadlike body. These worms can be bought at specialty garden supply stores and generally come by the pound.

The Bin

You can buy worm composting bins. However, you can also make them from any container in which you can drill drainage holes in the bottom and provide air holes in the top. Line the bin with a biodegradable bedding material such as peat moss. To initiate the worm composting process, layer the compost with a dry material such as shredded newspaper with kitchen scraps and another dry layer of paper before putting the worms on top. The kitchen scraps should generate enough moisture to help the worms to navigate through the compost as well as help decompose the compost mix. However, monitor the mixture to be certain that the paper does not absorb all of the moisture.

The Food

Once the bin has been established you will feed your worms every couple of days. To do this, Fine Gardening recommends incorporating a well balanced diet of fruits and vegetables as well as whole grain breads or pasta. Common kitchen wastes such as dairy products are not recommended because they will produce odors as well as attract various types of bugs. Avoid foods saturated with cooking oils such as olive, canola and vegetable, as well as food made with animal or vegetable fats.

The End Result

It will take approximately 60 days before composting materials are ready for harvesting. At this point, the worms will have processed a bulk of your compost mix. At this point it should resemble crumbly chocolate or coffee grounds. This mixture can be added to the dirt to achieve the highly prized "black gold" soil composure. To harvest the compost without the worms, either hand-sort the compost or push the compost to one side of the bin and add fresh food to the other side. Within a day or so the worms will have moved over to the fresh stuff and the compost can be harvested.

Who Can Help

Keywords: vermicomposting, worm composting, composting with worms

About this Author

Leah Deitz has been writing alternative health and environmental-related articles for five years. She began her writing career at a small newspaper covering city politics but turned to environmental concerns after beginning her freelance career. When she is not exploring the trails and outdoors of the East Coast, Deitz writes for a number of websites including eHow.com, Trails.com and Associated Content.