Worm Composting

Worm Composting

This year I decided to start composting for my garden and I want to share some tips I have learned along the way.  Composting is a great way to flourish your garden AND recycle waste.  I try to utilize every resource I have for my family and home to be "green".  I believe we all not only need to do our part to protect our planet but to ensure a safe future for our children.  Chemicals can be dangerous to keep inside our home with small children AND harmful to the environment and food we consume.  Composting also helps minimize the amount of waste going into our landfills.  Worm composting is easy and can be done indoors all year round or outside when the weather is warmer.  Worms help breakdown the food much faster than a normal compost and their "castings" or wastes produce some of the richest ingredients for your soil.

To build your own worm composter instead of purchasing one (quite costly), all you will need:
(2) Garbage Cans same size w/ 1 lid (or even Rubbermaid Containers)
Small Bag of Dirt
Drill or Hammer & Nail
Bedding (See list of items added to compost)

Drill or hammer out several (10-15) tiny holes into the bottom of one of the garbage cans for drainage.  These need to be smaller than an 1/2" thick since you only want water draining through and not your worms.  You may also want to drill a few holes into the lid for ventilation since the worms still need to breath.  Then place the garbage can with the holes inside the other can and add dirt, bedding and worms.  You will want to purchase approximately 1,000 or 1# of Red Wiggler worms depending on the size of your can and food waste.  The rule of thumb is 1# of worms for every 1/2# of food.  This can cost you between $20-$50 depending on the supplier.  I say start small since these little guys multiply quickly if the conditions are right and there is ample food supply.   You can even ask a friend or local greenhouse for some to get you started since these guys multiply to quickly.

Here is a list of the items you can add to compost to feed your worms and use as bedding:
shredded newspaper                            manure
shredded cardboard                             chopped up straw
shredded fall leaves                              sawdust

dead plants                                          seaweed
grass clippings                                     fruit and vegetable peels
tea bags                                             crushed egg shells                               
coffee grounds                                     bread
pasta or rice                                        potatoes

NO Meats or Dairy Products!  These attract pests such as rodents and flies.

You want to have a good 50/50 mixture of brown and green ingredients.  I like to use as much of a variety of food and bedding to keep my worms "happy".  Worms need lost of moisture and oxygen so make sure to water and gently toss your ingredients frequently.  The moisture level should be that of a wrung out sponge.  You can usually collect your food waste in a milk carton or other container for a couple days and then add it to the compost.  The worms will not eat fresh leftovers right away anyway.  They like to wait a couple days to a week to let the microorganisms begin the break down process, and they actually feed off that "slime".  The drainage into the second container can be used as a liquid fertilizer.

**If you begin to notice your worms escaping or hanging out on the sides and lid, there may be a few reasons for concern.  This means something is wrong with their environment.  Is their enough moisture for them?  Have you added enough food waste lately?  Is there a variety?  Too much acidity can kill them so limit the amount of acidic fruits you toss in there especially in the beginning.  Their wastes can also be harmful to them so its possible you need to start a new bin if they have cycled completely through their current one.  This also happens quickly if they have multiplied and there is not enough room and food supply for them to survive.

When its time to either start a new bin or add compost to your garden/plants, there are two simple ways to remove the worms.  

1.  You can set up a new section in your bin by moving the old compost to one side and preparing this empty section with fresh new bedding and food.  The worms will all gradually move themselves over so you can remove the older compost.  This is only if you have a couple days before needing the rich compost since it will take them some time to separate.
2.  You can simply pick the worms out either by sifting through with a grate or by hand.  This is my favorite way since the kids can help and can learn even more while having fun getting dirty and playing with the worms.  We all garden together so this is a way for them to help out!

Thanks for being GREEN...Have fun with your new project!!


  1. We have been composting for about 2 years and I have really noticed a decrease in the amount of garbage we create. All I did was buy a small roll of 3 ft. wide chicken wire and made a cylinder. I just remove the "ring" and flip the composte a couple of times a year. There are always a ton of worms "eating" away at my kitchen waste. It does make us feel good to composte.

  2. We also have been composting for many years and put out a vegetable garden . We had built our own compost pile for years. One summer our agriculture society had a lecture on composting and each person who attended received a nice big free compost bin. Thats what we have been using - and it is wonderful . Lots of worms in it and nice black soil too;. Keep them worms in there they sure help.


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