As some of you may recall, I used to have a worm bin in my old apartment for composting my kitchen scraps. I’ve been meaning to set it up again but kept procrastinating although I did manage to caulk the edges of the box last month (it had a tendency to leak). This weekend my friend Doug was in town and agreed to help me get my worms back in action.
My worm bin is a wooden box with a couple of air holes on the side (lined with some leftover gutter grating to keep the worms from crawling out). Doug says he is more used to tupperware containers or old coolers that have a little spigot on the side so you can collect the “worm tea” – basically a liquid fertilizer that is produced over time. However, wood boxes tend to let the water evaporate a little more so I haven’t had much water build up. I’m thinking about eventually doing some larger vermicomposting outdoors and maybe I’ll even try Doug’s suggestion of converting an old bathtub. Yum!
Our first step was to shred a bunch of newspaper and soak it in water. I like to make the strips about 1″ thick but you can also use the skinny stuff out of a paper shredder. Another alternative is to use hay or straw but I myself have a more plentiful supply of old newspapers. We did the project indoors because it was freaking cold this weekend and we managed not to make too much of a mess. I find a 5-gallon bucket works pretty well for soaking.
After putting down several layers of wet newspaper, I added a couple handfuls of potting soil. The worms need the grit in the soil and the soil also provides some microorganisms to help with the composting process. Vermicomposting involves a lot more critters than just worms but worms tend to be the ones you see. The best worms to use are red worms or red wrigglers although you can also use nightcrawlers. The idea is to get the kind of worms that eat leaves and organic matter, as opposed to earthworms, which eat dirt. My worms came from my friend Lucille, who is a hardcore eco-green expert (she has been living car free for over 20 years) and had a healthy supply of worms to share.
I buried the worms in a corner of the box and they were good to go! Lucille sent them with a bit of soil and food scraps from her worm bin but I had a whole fridge of leftovers to clean out so I tucked in several more goodies. They love eggshells especially although I always try to break the eggshells up into little pieces. (Worms have tiny tiny mouths.)
So I’m back in business! There are really only two tricks to worm composting. One is to make sure all the food scraps are buried (otherwise they’ll start to smell a little) and to make sure the worms don’t get too dried out (the bedding should stay damp). I’ll let you know how it goes!