Apr 28, 2011

Composting with worms

It's time to talk about worms!!!  Great, right?  Even better, making compost requires little effort when worms do all the dirty work.  One of the problems with composting in Kansas is that in the winter, you can't get your outdoor pile warm enough to actually break anything down.  So, after a little research, I decided worm farming was clearly the way to go.  Let me just reiterate, as I will many times this is SO EASY!  Anyone with a little tiny bit of space and a few purchased items can do it. 

First step is buying a place to keep your worms.  Ours is called the worm factory, but you can make your own worm house if you are so inclined.  Just Google it.  =)  It doesn't take up much space, and has many advantages I will talk about later. 

You can also order worms from Amazon.  It is a little weird, to think they come in the mail, but they do.  Right alongside your Pottery Barn catalog and the water bill. 
We keep our worm factory in the unfinished part of our basement.  The main reason for this is that worms can't get too hot or too cold, so it will be perfect in the summer and the winter.  The optimal temperature is between 40 and 80 degrees. 

If you are like me, you will also want a compost container to keep so that you don't have to run down to the bin every time you have something to compost.  I also got this container on Amazon's website.
It has a filter to keep out smells, and I think it looks nice enough to keep out on the counter. That's it.  Everything else you probably already have.  The other things that I use a lot are a small spray bottle and a garden fork. The fork is just to move things around if I want to take a look at the worms without touching any decomposing food.

Now for the work...  Remember, this is EASY!  The worm factory comes with everything you need, except for the worms.  I set up the factory according to the directions.  Then, you just save all of your fruit and vegetable scraps, old bread, plant cuttings, and eggshells in your container.  When my container is full, and admittedly pretty stinky, I empty the container out into the bins.  Here is a picture of my container full with asparagus ends.  

Then you cover your kitchen scraps with paper.  Hey, worms need fiber too!  I use the paper from our shredder, but you can also use junk mail, newspaper, toilet paper rolls, etc.
You can't see the worms here, because they are very light sensitive.  As soon as you open the bin, they run for cover.  Or squirm, whatever. 

Does anyone else know that song... The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out?  It is kind of dark and twisted.  Anyone?  Okay, I digress again. 

Finally, spritz with a little water, so that the paper is moist.  You never have to turn this or touch the worms.  The beauty of this system is that the worms crawl upward to the next bin once they are finished breaking down all the food in one bin.  It does take a while, but I have found that the amount of worms we have is perfect for the food scraps we compost. Here is the amazing thing.  The container stinks when I empty it in and cover it with paper.  The next day... NO SMELL!  The worms are, quite frankly, amazing. 

The advantages:
     1. EASY!
     2. Fruit and veggies never go to waste. 
     3. Low maintenance: Worms just like to be fed and left alone.
     4. You make your own compost and compost tea without doing a thing, which is great natural food for all of your plants. 
Just look at all of that dark, rich compost.  My garden will love it!  =)  If anyone has any questions, you are always welcome to leave a comment here and I will be happy to try and answer them!  Did I mention it's easy?  =) 


  1. I would SO do this if I actually had a garden and if we weren't moving :( For sure, once we are settled I will reference this post - I hate wasting ANYTHING and the worms seem, shall we say, easy ;)

  2. Worms! You rock! I'm so happy you posted about your blog on facebook. Now I can follow you! :)

  3. I would do this in a heartbeat, however, we live in Arizona and it gets too hot here starting in May and unfortunately we don't have a basement.