Vermicompost: A Gardener’s Friend

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I recently had written an article on properly recycling your food waste garbage. I am big into recycling and feel that we can all do something beyond just putting our cans, bottles and paper into the proper bins for our local municipalities to come and get.

I bring up the food waste recycling for a reason and you gardeners are going to love this (if you do not know it already), and that is being able to turn your food waste into what is called vermicompost.

Vermicompost is nothing more than worm castings. Worms eat “something” and then their waste is called castings. These castings are an incredible source of a variety of nutrients for your soil.

In my previous article I wrote how you should just bury your food waste and that the worms will find it and eat it and of course produce worm castings better know as vermicompost. It is a pretty simple solution and very little work for you. It adds a lot of nutrients to your soil, and if you have a vegetable garden like me, it keeps my soil top notch.

But what if you don’t have a garden, or an area to bury the food waste, what then? You still want to recycle your food waste and keep it out of a landfill, so what can you do to help? You can start your own worm bin.

Did you ever have an ant farm when you were kid? If so then this is very similar only with worms. What you need is a large Rubbermaid container, some newspaper, food scraps and some worms.

Take your Rubbermaid container and drill ¼” holes in the bottom. This will allow any moisture to drain (we’ll get to more on that in a moment). Also drill holes (a bit larger like 3/8” to ½”) in the sides and the top for ventilation. We wouldn’t want to suffocate our worms.

Now that you have the bin all set you need to prepare the interior for the worm’s arrival. Shred up some newspaper and soak it with water. Now wring out the newspaper because you do not want to have it drenched, you just want it nice and saturated for the worms. This newspaper will serve as your bedding. Place the newspaper at the bottom of your Rubbermaid container using only half of the container. The other half you want to keep empty (I’ll explain why in a moment).

Now you need to get yourself some worms. Red wigglers are the best variety to use. You can order them online if you do not have access to digging some up in your backyard. If you order them you can start with 250 to 500. Yeah I know that sounds like a lot, but if you feed them properly you will easily have over 1,000 worms in your bin in 6 to 9 months, so there is no need to buy any more than the minimum offered by wherever it is you’re buying them from.

Now that you have your worms you need to put your food scraps in. Good scraps include fruits and veggies, coffee grinds, and so on. Do not add bones, meat or any type of domesticated animal feces. No fido’s droppings must still be thrown away.

Once your food is in your bin, add more saturated newspaper to the top. A good two to three inches will do. Add your worms on top of the newspaper and keep the lid off for now. No they won’t climb out and go all over your house. What happens is worms hate light and since you have the lid off they will crawl for darker areas, namely underneath the newspaper. This helps get the worms to where you want them to go and that is where the food is.

Check back in about an hour or so to see if all the worms have worked their way down. If they have, put the lid on and walk away. Your bin must remain moist because that is how worms like it, therefore every morning, using a watering can, sprinkle water over top. You do not want to drown the worms, only put enough water in there to keep it moist.

However, remember those holes you drilled earlier in the bottom of the container? Well guess what if you do not put something underneath to catch the moisture, it will surely go everywhere. I recommend taking another Rubbermaid container and putting it underneath the one you are using as your bin. Just make sure you do not cover the holes on the sides of your first bin. You should empty the liquid from your container that catches the moisture on a daily basis. But do not just throw it out, that liquid has valuable nutrients in it. You should use it to water your plants!

Now that you have your worm ecosystem going, check back every so often to see how they are doing. If you notice that the food is nearly gone, then you know it is time to add more to the other side of the Rubbermaid container. This is why we use only one side of the container at a time, this way we can extract our vermicompost from one side while the other is in use by the worms.

Once you fill the other side with new newspaper, food etc, give the worms about 2 weeks to migrate over. They will do this on their own as they, like humans, need food to survive. After two weeks go to your bin and remove the side that should now be vermicompost. If there are still some food scraps left (or worms), remove them and add them to the other side. No sense wasting waste right?

The more worms that you have the quicker the food will be digested. So obviously the fewer worms you have the longer it will take to turn food waste into vermicompost.

Once you have your vermicompost you can take it and add it to your house plants, flower beds, you name it! Your vegetation will thank you for it. They are tired of that same old dirt!

About the Author:
Mr. Tucker is a regular contributor on Bukisa, an online community where you earn residual income by sharing your knowledge.  Do not forget you can use this article on your own website or blog by simply copying and pasting the code from the “Syndicate this Article” section located on the right.

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