Got Worms? All About Vermicomposting

Chances are you haven’t given much thought to worms as anything other than fish bait or on rainy days when they congregate on the sidewalk.  Did you know that worms can make tea??  No, not the kind of tea that anyone would want to drink, but a very useful and nutritious drink for your garden.  Read on to find out more about how you can put those little creepy crawlers to work toward beautifying your yard and making your garden grow.

Why Worms?
  • Worms are great for regular compost waste.  If you compost leftover food scraps (vegetable peelings, egg shells, rotten produce, etc.) on a frequent basis, your compost can fill up fairly quickly.  Worms eat your compost waste, turning them into a nutrient-rich soil that is excellent for adding to gardens. You can even make a worm “tea” by adding some of the nutrient-rich soil to a rain barrel or water can.  After the soil has “steeped” for a while, it can be watered over your plants, making the nutrients in the soil available immediately to the plants.
How to set up your compost:
    • There are several different methods.  The method described here can be used both indoors and outdoors–depending on your climate and living situation.

You will need:
  • 2 (or more) large plastic bins, dark color (8-10 gallon)
  • A drill
  • Rocks or pieces of wood (to raise the top bin slightly when stacked)
  • Red Wiggler Worms (one pound to start)
  • Soil
  • Newspaper
  • Food!  (compost)
You can often find worms at bait shops or even on Craigslist from people looking to get rid of their overgrowing worm colony!  If those options don’t appeal to you, there are plenty of online retailers.  You can get a pound of worms delivered to your door easily from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm or Worms Etc.
Construct Your Bins:

  1. Using your drill with a 1/8 drill bit, drill holes in the bottom of your first bin.  This allows water to drain out and keep your worms happy.
  2. Drill holes along the top edge of your second bin.  This will allow for ventilation.
  3. In your second bin (the one with holes along the top), add some shredded newspaper and soil, filling it about 1/2 way.  You can also add some of your food scraps to get the party started.
  4. Once you have these things, add some water to moisten the “bedding” for your worms.  Don’t make it too wet–you just want things to be damp.
  5. Invite your worms to their new home!  Place the worms on top of the bedding. Add another layer of newspaper on top to help prevent any fruit flies from also making their new home here.
  6. In your empty bin, place some rocks or pieces of wood in the corners to allow for air to circulate in the bottom.  Stack your bin with worms on top of this bin.

Find a nice, cool place to store your worms.  You don’t want them to be too cold (nothing below freezing temperatures) and not too hot (keep them less than 80 degrees).  Depending on where you live, you may keep them outside for part of the year and bring them in for the rest.  Or, if you have a well insulated garage, shed, or indoor mudroom, they may keep well in these areas.

Now……what do worms eat?
  • Worms can eat paper, coffee grounds, pasta, eggshells, fruit, vegetables, bread, tea bags, and grains.  They are hungry creatures, eating their weight in food per day.  So, if you started with 1 pound of worms, make sure they get about 1 lb of your scraps each day!
When do I get to “harvest” my fertile soil?
  • You can empty your bin and sort out the good soil every few months.  If you have a more traditional outdoor compost, you could add this soil to that in the winter months (if you aren’t still gardening) and it will be ready for use when you start spring planting.

Does all of this sound too complicated?  You can certainly buy your own worm bins online.  They will ship to your door with very easy set-up.  We’d recommend Worm Factory 3-Tray Composter or VermiHut Recycled 3-Tray Recycled Plastic Worm Composter.

Want more tips for a Green House and Garden? Check out these other Daily Mom articles and our Green Section:

Photo Credits: Worms in Hand, Vanessa Vancour (CC); Worm Bins, Tim Musson (CC)

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Katherine lives in Kansas City with her husband, toddler, and 3 furry children. When she is not at home with her daughter, she is finishing up her Ph.D. in psychology or working on one of her multiple half-finished art projects. She loves ceramics, crafts, fitness, paper mache, and pretending to learn French and Spanish.

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