Worm Composting

Worm composting is a great way to recycle organic matter. It is easy to do and works perfectly for anyone who lives in an apartment and may not have a yard. The all-natural organic soil created from the compost is great to use on your house plants and around your yard and garden.

How to Worm Compost

Five easy steps of worm composting (also known as vermicompost):

1. Obtain A Worm Composting Bin - Everything you need to get started is included with a worm composting kit, including ½ pound of worms. Check with your local compost retailer for a variety of compost bins and other environmentally friendly lawn and garden supplies.

2. Add Bedding Material And Worms - Fill the bin with moist bedding material. You can use coconut coir, which is coarse fiber extracted from the outer shell of a coconut. You can also make your own bedding. Add worms (1/2 lb. is usually enough to get started). Making your worm bedding material is easy:

  • Start with about 4 pounds of shredded newspaper, cardboard or pH neutral peat moss.
  • Add about 1 gallon of cool tap water slowly and soak until moist, like a damp sponge.
  • Mix in 1 handful of soil from your yard or garden (for grit).
  • Add 6 dry, crushed egg shells.
  • Mix all the ingredients together.

3. Disperse Your Materials Evenly Into A Compost Bin - Feed your worms regularly, start with small amounts, gradually increasing the amount you give them based on their rate of consumption.

  • Fruit and vegetable peelings and scraps, bread, pasta, beans, coffee ground and filters, tea bags, napkins and paper towels.
  • Clippings from house plants, cut flowers, fresh herbs (small amounts only), etc.
  • Crushed egg shells.
  • Only feed ½ lb food per 1 lb of worms.
  • Worms are vegetarian, so don’t feed them meat, dairy, oil or any meat by-products such as pet food.
  • Avoid acidic fruits and vegetables like citrus, rotten tomatoes, etc.
  • Don’t overfeed your worms. One pound of worms can eat up to ½ lb. of food every day.

4. Maintain Your Worm Bin - Keep the worm bin warm, but not hot, and keep it out of direct sunlight. Don’t let the worm bedding get too wet. Add shredded newspaper to absorb excess moisture.

5. Harvest Your Worm Compost - Your finished worm compost will be ready for use in about 4 – 6 weeks. There are three methods for harvesting your worm compost:

  • Quick and Easy Method - Gently remove the compost, including worms, and use it in your yard and garden, or as part of a potting soil mix.
  • End Feeding Method - Put all food at one end of the bin every day for several weeks and the worms will migrate toward that end. Then remove the worm compost from the other end.
  • Spread Method - Remove the compost from the bin and spread it out thinly, pick out the worms, and put them back in the worm bin.

Solving Composting Problems

Be Aware Of Unpleasant Odors: Properly functioning composts should not smell unpleasant. To help avoid odors, keep the pH in your worm bin neutral (around 7.0). Test pH with litmus paper. If the pH is acidic (less than 7), add crushed egg shells or ground limestone. If it’s above 7, add slightly acidic fruits. Never use chemical to adjust pH.

Another hint: You can also put a small, open jar of vinegar in the corner of the bin to reduce fruit flies.