The thought of wriggly worms in your compost bin might give you the heebie jeebies, but it’s really not as awful as you may think. Starting your own worm farm can be beneficial not only for the environment, but the resulting compost can significantly improve your soil, which will make your flowers bloom brighter and your vegetables grow bigger. Who can turn their nose up at that?
Although you might not be thrilled to add worms to your existing compost bin, you could always enlist a family member who isn’t so skittish. Teaching your children how to start their own compost bin will instill them with eco-friendly values and prepare them for an independent future. Once we look into the advantages of vermicomposting, you might put your hesitance aside.
Facts about Vermicomposting
Believe it or not, those slimy worms can do a lot of good despite their small size. In comparison to compost created by fungi and bacteria, vermicompost is approximately seven times more nutrient rich. Just think what that nutrient power can do for your plants! Below are the top three reasons why a composting worm farm can be so valuable to a green thumb like yourself.
It’s natural to choose a simple project over a more complex one, because let’s face it life can be busy. Fortunately, the worms will do all of the work for you, so no turning, watering or aerating is required.
Unlike traditional compost, vermicompost can be kept up all year round as long as it’s brought indoors or placed in a well-sheltered area outside. Even if it’s snowing or raining, rich compost can continue processing.
- Waste Reduction
Depending on the size of your household, the amount of trash you put at the curb every week could be astounding. By saving food scraps and other organic materials for your worm compost, you help reduce your waste that typically goes to landfills by one third.
Starting your own worm farm is a fairly simple process, and once you understand how it works, it’s not any more difficult than throwing scraps into the trash.
How Does Vermicomposting Work?
In order to begin a vermicompost, you need simple and inexpensive items such as a worm bin, bedding, water, worms and your kitchen trash. It doesn’t get any easier than that!
It’s best to have a wooden worm bin to keep the worms cool in the summer and warm in the winter. If you have two people in your household, a 2’ L x 2’ W x 8’’ H is appropriate. As for the bedding, a cushiony material such as decaying leaves, peat moss, shredded paper or composted animal manure will ensure that the bin retains moisture and allows for proper circulation. For every seven pounds of bedding, you will need three pints of water initially, and then you can mist the bin whenever it becomes dry. Last but not least are the worms—red worms or “wigglers”—that will thrive in the compost.
Once you have these basic items in place, you can begin adding food scraps, which the worms will eat, break down and pass as worm castings (digested soil-like material) within six weeks. Then the worm castings can be harvested in three to four months and used immediately or stored for later use.
Putting the Compost to Use
The nutrient rich compost that the worms create can be used in a variety of ways. You can either mulch or mix it into your vegetable garden or apply it around trees and other ornament plants and flower beds. Other options include sprinkling it onto your grass and enriching indoor potted plants with high quality compost.
You might not be compelled to start buying worm farms, but this low maintenance activity can provide you with healthier plants and make you look like a gardening pro. If you have children involved in this activity, they will also learn the give and take that nature has to offer. Happy vermicomposting!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marina Hanes is a writer and owner of Cat’s Eye Editing, LLC. She received a B.A. in Professional Writing & Editing from Youngstown State University, and her professional area of focus is Environmental Studies.