That's right folks...we went to F.W. Horch yesterday and picked up a take-out container full of little worms. We then picked up a plastic container (I had a hard time with this one, but plastic keeps the moisture from being absorbed which the little worms need to survive, and wood would just soak it all up) to keep our new pets in. Why worms? They are GREAT composters!
Let's face it, when it comes to getting our veggie and fruit scraps out to the compost bin, it doesn't happen too often. More so in the summer, but when winter comes who wants to be walking through feet of snow to get to the bin? Not to mention the fact the decomposition slows down majorly in the winter because of the cold where we are, so we basically have a smelly pile of rotting food until the weather warms up. So these worms live right in your house (downstairs in our shop) and you can feed them everyday if you like, and the guy at the store told me that if you forget to feed them for a couple of months, they'd still probably be okay. Easy!
I think this is ideal for people in apartments, or for people who don't have a yard to compost in. Let's face it, Americans have a trash problem, so composting is one way to ease up on the stuff that ends up in landfills, reduces your total garbage output (which is great when the city implements a law where you have to buy trashbags with the city's name on it and pay $1-3 a bag!), and helps out your garden or potted plants at the same time!
Now worms are not that gross, so stop saying "ew". They're teeny tiny ones, so for those who are squeamish when it comes to things like this, they're not so bad. I took pictures of the process and will explain some more about it for those who think it may be fun to start worm composting.
What you need to get started-
1) Container: A plastic bin with tight fitting lid is a good container because the moisture isn't absorbed and the worms need this moisture to survive. One pound of worms will consume about 3.5 pounds of food weekly, and this amount would require about 3.5 square feet of surface area. Or a half pound of worms, consuming 1.5 pounds of food weekly would need 1.5 square feet of surface area. The worms need air to breathe, so drill some holes (small ones) near the top. Don't make them too big because you don't want flies getting in there. The worms like darkness, so do not get a clear bin. Here is the bin we bought. The worms are in the take-out container. They are mixed with some organic wastes and there own poo which is like gold loam!
2) Bedding:Shredded newspaper is great for bedding. The bedding must be organic matter so it can decompose. Any paper should do, but make sure it isn't coated. The bedding should be kept moist, so make sure you soak the newspaper first. Ring it out before putting it in so that it's as moist as a wrung out sponge. Here is the shredding process underway (my daughter thought this part was so much fun!):
3) Worms!: There are two species that will work: Eisneia foetida, AKA, red worms, or Lumbricua rubellus. These species produce the largest amounts of organic material. Here are the worms we got:
After I got all these together, I put the worms with the bit of organic matter they came with on the bottom of the bin spread out like so:
Then I covered them up with moist newspaper strips:
Then I put some of my daughter's mashed pears that were getting old in about 4 different piles (little piles) under the newspaper. I then covered the piles back up with the newspaper.
These worms are just getting started, so they are tiny and need to reproduce to consume much more. They will be able to eat much more in about 2 months. I should be able to throw all of my veggies scraps in there daily. You just pull back the newspaper and place the food in there and cover it back up. Keep an eye on how much they're eating.
You don't want to keep your bin in temperatures lower than 40 degrees, or higher than 80. We keep our worms in the shop downstairs which is heated.
Do NOT feed your worms meat waste, bones, fats (oils).
DO feed them veggie waste, fruit waste, tea leaves, tea bags, coffee grounds complete with filter, etc.
Depending on all these conditions, you should have some compost to use in about 3-5 months! Just pull back the paper and scoop out the compost. Some people put some food over to one side of the bin the night before, so the worms are all over that way and then go in and get the compost from the other side.
So go get some worms and have fun!!
I wanted to name all of our worms, but I figured once they reproduced it would be too hard to keep up! :)