With the push for more recycling, and less trash, most large cities have a green waste and kitchen waste program. Which is awesome, and I’m totally behind. However, I’ve always wanted to keep my own compost, so I’m not forking over a ton of money for fertilizer, but the smell, and rats just made it gross and not feasible.
Then I got worms!
Wait, I should probably qualify that first. I went to a workshop at my local farmer’s market to build a worm composting box. It took about half an hour, and now I have my own pet worms, AND free fertilizer! Worm castings (worm poo) is about the best fertilizer you can get, and gardening centres charge a lot for it, so this is a great way to be lazy AND cheap… my favourite combo.
Step 1: Make a Worm box
Get a standard Rubbermaid bin, with lid. It needs to be wide, and not too deep. Drill holes around the sides, and in the lid for air circulation. Holes about 1cm (1/4″) or so are fine, about 50 ish, evenly spaced.
Step 2: Make Worm Bedding
Shredded paper or cardboard is perfect. Just tear it up into chunks, or use recycled newsprint, or shredded office paper. Moisten it with water, and add a cup of dirt. Worms need grit to digest food, so the dirt is important.
Step 3: Get worms
Composting worms come in a few varieties, but red wigglers are usually best. Yes, that’s really their name. You can order worms from local retailers, or you can ask someone who already has worms for some of your own. They will breed to a good number, so you don’t need a ton to start out.
If you’re going to keep the worms outside, they cannot be in excessive heat, or below freezing. Also, they may attract rats, so be careful there (I had rats chew apart the side of my bin before I brought it inside). I have mine inside, in a kitchen cabinet, and there is no smell, so don’t worry about having indoor worms. They’re also more active at room temperature.
Step 4: Feed them
A box of worms will not be able to eat the entire trash of a family, but they do pretty well. Just about any household scraps are good, but DO NOT feed worms:
But everything else; coffee grounds, tea, potato peels, egg shells, fruit (they LOVE fruit), rotting fruits/veggies, are all good. Make sure you bury the food in the bedding, or you will get bad smells, and fruit flies. LFMF on that one!
If you notice the worms aren’t eating everything you put in there, and food is sitting for a while, give them less food. If you add food and all you see is dirt, add more food.
If you want to remove all the worms, and use the compost, just don’t feed them for a week or two, move all the old compost to one side, then fill the other side with fresh bedding, and some new food scraps. Particularly banana peels, they love them! After a few days, the worms will migrate to the fresh side, and you can use the compost. Just do a cursory worm check first.
Stay tuned for how to make Compost Tea from worm poo! (I really need to find a way to make that sound more appealing, but Poo Tea is definitely worse)