So I have a worm-bin in my kitchen and would never have thought that worms were such voracious eaters!
A few years ago I decided to change a few things in my life in order to live a greener lifestyle. I called it “The Beazer Challenge”, and I attempted to tackle issues related to energy efficiency, toxic chemical in the home, eating healthier, and consumer habits. These were things I thought were easy to manage on a small scale but that would add up to benefits for myself and community on whole. I will post more on these topics soon.
But back to the worms…I decided to learn about indoor composting as a result of my attempt to eat healthy. Buying and eating more fruits and veggies was great, wasting them due to over stocking my fridge was not. I was wasting food and money in my green mission. At the time I had turtles who helped me consume my produce, but after they left it was just me with tons of greens. then I heard about worm composting which is a way to recycle food back into soil, through worms.
Though I’m a nature girl, I’m still squeamish with bugs and wiggly things so I wasn’t sure if it was the right thing to do. I looked for information and found a course with The New York Botanical Gardens. They offered a training called the Master Composter Certificate, and so because I love that place, wanted to learn about it and teach others, I signed up. So from April 2010 to December 2010, my life was about learning compost systems, touring community gardens in the Bronx to see, work and learn on their outdoor systems, and learn how to make and manage my own indoor wormbin.
The two systems are similar in that they both take carbon based materials and instead of tossing them into the regular garbage, they are able to turn that “waste” into soil that can be put back into your garden to help new things grow. This was what got me as I like to experiment with my household plants, and I was at the beginning stages of my window farm so it seemed like a great match!
Here are some basics for indoor composting/vermicomposting:
1- Get some worms! Now you can’t go out into your backyard or down to the park to get some. The ones used in bins are of a special kind called red wriggler worms, they process half their weight in food scraps every day! “That means that 2 pounds of worms will process 7 pounds per week!” they can be bought/ordered, ask for “Eisenia fetida” or “Lumbricus rubellus“, or gotten from organizations like NYBG who hold regular demonstrations of how to manage a bin. Other types of worms will not survive in the conditions created in the bin.
2-The whole idea is that in the right conditions. Choose a container for the amount of worms, the amount of finished compost you want and the space you have available to use. As you can see in the pictures, I started with a small tupperware container then moved up to a larger storage bin, cause they are pigs I tell you!
Container must have a lid in which you will poke air holes in. It is recommended to use shredded newspaper as the bedding. Do not use paper with colored ink or glossy advertisement paper! The bedding should be moist but not wet. you can also use some potting soil, coconut coir or leaves, but I find the newspaper is easier to manage and it helps to recycle that too. the food you add will create moisture also, so make sure it’s not too wet in there.
3-Put in your worms, give them some food scraps and cover with more paper bedding. This is your basic start. You are good to go. You can put in anything that was once living or came from a living thing, but it is recommended not to put in meats, or other materials that come from living bodies (poop), unless you know what you are doing. To manage and maintain your bin, check on it every week to make sure it’s not too wet or too dry. Depending on the amount of worms you start with, you feed them accordingly. I got a handful from an info session and gave them about 2 cups at first. I now can put in about 6 cups and they will finish in a week and a half!
So as a certified Master Composter, I can help you start or manage your bin!
For more information check back here, contact me or go directly to the source at the New York Botanical Gardens Compost program page. Happy Composting!
Related articles (groundtoground.org)
- Make a Cheap Worm Bin from Buckets (Video) (treehugger.com)
- Slimy pets to eat your garbage and entertain your kids (noimpactman.typepad.com)
- I’m Going to Live with Worms (thewholelifeblog.wordpress.com)