Worm Composting

worm composting, composting worms, worm composter, composting 101, how to compost

Worm Composting

Learn how to do worm composting, buy a worm composter bin and how to get great, rich soil by composting with worms.

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Worm Composting:

Let me explain worm composting before you make up your mind, it's not that bad! If you are composting indoors, worms actually work very well and nope, they won't escape into your home. The major benefit of composting with worm is that the worms do all the work. If you are composting indoors or have a small space, this is a perfect alternative to traditional composting methods.

Another benefit of worm composting is that you don't need to add any brown material. One of the biggest complaints that I hear from people who have trouble composting is that it's hard to figure out how much of each item to add to their pile.

It can also be tedious to aerate the pile and to troubleshoot if something goes wrong. With worms, you avoid all of those problems. It's as simple as adding food scraps to a box with worms and waiting for them to do their work.

One of the first things that you'll have to decide is whether you'd like to purchase a worm composter or if you'd like to make your own. We talk about both here, but highly recommend buying one that's ready to go unless you really like do-it-yourself projects.

There are two worm composters that we really like at Green Living Made Easy.

The first is called the Can-O-Worms Despite the silly name, it works really well and is highly recommended for families that would like to compost indoors.

It's small enough that it can be kept in a closet, or even the kitchen if you're in to having a compost bin in your kitchen. The design includes three layers, which allows you to add scraps in different layers depending on where the worms are eating.

It's also got a spigot that allows you to remove what's fondly referred to as "worm tea."  It may sound gross, but adding this "worm tea" to plants will ensure that you have the happiest plants in the neighborhood.  They love the stuff!

One of our favorite things about this particular worm composter is that it's made from 100% recycled materials, which is pretty cool!

The second worm composter that we recommend is the Gusanito Worm Farm. The 3-tray bin is our favorite and it has more than enough room for a regular sized family.

If price is a major concern though, this one is about half the price of the Can-O-Worms.

The Can-O-Worms holds about 8,000 more worms than this model, but at full capacity, the worms that fit here are capable of consuming up to 8 pounds of food each day! It also has a spigot that allows you to remove the "worm tea."

Choosing Your Worms

Once you've bought or built a container, you'll need to have some worms to add to it. Red Wigglers are considered the best to use. They are temperature sensitive and may need to be brought indoors in the winter months if you live in a cold weather area. However, they are hard workers and are the "worm of choice" for almost all worm composters.

You can pick them up locally or order them online. We've personally found the worms that we ordered online to be larger than what we were able to buy locally, but that probably depends on where you live. Amazon sells Red Wigglers that we've always been pleased with. For $30.00, you'll get about 1,000 worms. They are shipped in soil and it's extremely simple to add them to your composter, you won't even need to touch them!

If you'd like to try to save a little money by making your own, read on to learn how you can make your own worm composting bin. The one major problem with making your own is that worms like to migrate upwards, which is why the multilevel bins are so popular. However, making your own bin can be rewarding, so feel free to give it a shot!

Step One - Gather Your Materials

A plastic or wooden container at least 8 inches deep with a lid. Make sure it's large enough to hold a good amount of food scraps but small enough to fit under your sink or wherever you'll be keeping it. A drill to put a few holes into your container. If you don't have a drill and are using a plastic container, a hammer and a nail will work too. A tray to put under your container. Anything that can catch a little liquid is fine.

Bedding - you can use ripped up newspaper, shredded cardboard, shredded dried grass clippings, dried leaves from houseplants, or plain old topsoil.

Worms - you'll want red worms, also called red wigglers. If you live near a farm, you could probably talk the farmer out of some of his but you may have to visit his manure pile to get them!

You can also buy these little guys at a fishing store that sells bait or ask your local garden center. You'll need about 1/2 pound of worms per cubic foot of your container. If you need help with figuring cubic feet (and I do!) simply multiply all three dimensions of your container:

When composting with worms it is: Length x width x height Just remember to convert into feet when you're done if you're multiplying in inches or you'll have more worms than container!

A small pail of soil. You'll add this to your composting bin when you feed your new pets.

A small pail to hold your food scraps until you feed the worms. You know those gallon ice cream pails? They work perfect, with the lid. Really, any container with a lid that you have around will work.

Start by drilling holes in the lid of your container and along the sides at the top. This will allow air to flow through. You'll also need to drill a few in the bottom of the container, allowing it to drain. Before you add your bedding, you may want to put some netting on the bottom of your container (just in case a baby worm gets curious!)

Then add your bedding and enough water to make it about as damp as a rung out sponge. Now add your worms to the bedding (don't forget to put the lid back on).

Step Three - Saving Food

Now you can start saving food scraps to feed your pets. Good things to save include vegetable and fruit, bread, rice, and pasta. Worms also like tea bags and coffee grounds.

Some items you won't want to save include meat or bones, potato peelings or any dairy products. The allowable items can be added them to your pail as you save them.

Step Four - Feeding Your New Pets

Once your pail of scraps is full, you are ready to feed your worms. Simply open your composter, move the bedding aside, put the food in, and cover it back up. It's easiest to start on the left side of your composter and move to the right each time you feed the worms.

When you've reached the other end, start over again. You can also easily check how the worms are doing by looking the in area where you last placed food. If the food is still there, they need more time to catch up to you (maybe you need a bigger bin next time!).

Remember that pail of soil that I told you to keep handy? Add a little of that when you feed the worms. It's also nice to sprinkle some crushed egg shells on the top of the bedding.

Step Five - Get Your Compost and Start Over

After about 4 months or so, your worms will have made turned their home into rich, black soil full of nutrients and ready for you to use. But, wait! Before you go putting that soil in all your plants, you've got to get the worms out. Not to worry, it's easy.

Simply Move all the compost to one side of the bin and put new bedding on the other side. Add food only to the area with the fresh bedding and wait a few weeks. The worms will all head over to where the food is and you can safely remove your compost.

Step Six - Use Your Compost

There are lots of things you can do with your compost. If you have plants (indoor or outdoor) you can add the compost directly to the soil. You can also mix it with water and use it to spray your plants. The only thing that it's not recommended for is planting seeds or using on new plants.

Also check out our articles on Worm Composting, Composting 101, How to Compost, Composting Indoors, Compost Troubleshooting, Backyard Composting, and Backyard Composting for lots of additional great tips.

Also - here are some of our Favorite Books on Composting.