Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Guide to Worm Composting; the Process Is Simple and Uses Very Little Space

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Guide to Worm Composting; the Process Is Simple and Uses Very Little Space

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Brite DelValle

Worm composting, also known as vermicomposting, is really catching on in urban areas. If you don't have room or want to do traditional composting but really want to turn those kitchen scraps into something useful, this may be for you.

Vermicomposting is the process of using worms and microorganisms to break down vegetable scraps into rich compost. One pound of worms can turn 65 pounds of trash into compost in 110 days. Here's what's involved.

SELECT A LOCATION

This type of worm composting can be done either inside or outside if the temperatures are not extreme. They are ideal house pets since ideal temperatures for them are from 60 to 80 degrees, though they will tolerate a range from 40 to 90 degrees. They can be kept outside in the garage, porch area or under a shade tree if temperatures are in the acceptable range. Odors are not a problem if you decide to compost inside the home.

WORM CONTAINER

You can go online and purchase a worm bin, but it's much cheaper to make your own. The size of the bin is dictated by how much food scraps are generated each week. Two people might produce 3 pounds of food scraps per week vs. a family of four to six could end up with 6 pounds.

A bin measuring 2 feet wide by 2 feet long by 8 inches deep will be adequate for a family of two. For the larger family, select a 2-foot-long-by-3- foot-wide bin. An 18-gallon plastic storage container usually works well. Avoid using a clear container because the worms do not like light. Another option is to use an inexpensive dishpan and cover it with black weed cloth tied off with an elastic band.

The worms need aeration, so one option is to drill four holes 4 inches from the top of the bin. Secure the holes by covering them with small pieces of screen glued down with duct tape on the inside of the bin.

Another method is to use black weed cloth covering the top, which should provide adequate oxygen. Use a lid or the weed cloth over the top to block the light. If the bin is outside, use a secure plastic cover to protect the worms from adventurous animals.

PREPARE THE BED

At the base of the bin, add a few handfuls of soil or sandy material and then add the bedding material. Worms need bedding material to burrow into. Use a light fluffy material like shredded newspaper, paper bags, computer paper or cardboard. Don't use glossy pages from magazines or ads. Shredded leaves or peat moss can also be added.

Moisten the bedding material, but keep the material light and fluffy. Add about 4 to 6 pounds of bedding for a 2-by-2-foot bin, or add until the bin is about 1/2 to 3/4 full. Over time, the worms will feed on the bedding, so plan to replenish in a few months. As the bedding material dries out, re-wet with a mister. …

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