Lots of people really want to compost their kitchen waste but don't have the space or resources to create a functional compost system. One great way for smaller families and apartment dwellers to generate some great compost is by using red wiggler or compost worms. While they sell fancy worm farms online, if you want to DIY... my wife the worm queen recommends the following tactics:
- Go to Target and get three, dark colored plastic bins (don't use the clear ones, worms don't like light!).
- The first bin is to catch the worm tea – or liquid gold if you prefer- and you can place some bricks or a bucket inside to support the next bin.
- Your second bin will be the worm's home- so riddle it with holes using one of your larger drill bits- all over; bottom, sides and top. The holes on the bottom are for drainage, while the ones on the side and top are for oxygen.
- To make the worm bed begin with a layer of wood chips, then a layer of shredded carbon; use newspaper or office paper, leaves or straw.
- Then layer in some kitchen waste- think of your worms as enjoying a healthy diet- they love greens, old fruit and veggie skins. They also enjoy coffee grounds and love to mate in eggshells.
- Worms don't like spicy stuff: citrus, onions or anything too strong or acidic is bad for them. Likewise don't give them cooked, processed or foods that contain animal products.
- Once you have created their home: its time to get your worms! You can order a 1 lb starter batch for under $30 from Uncle Jim's Worm farm or other online source. Or find a friend with some to give you to get started. Worms usually arrive in a bag of peat moss and need to be integrated into their new home as soon as possible.
- Lay the worms into the food waste and cover them with another layer of shredded carbon. I Like to use strips of brown grocery bags and straw or more shredded newspaper.
- Using a spray bottle, mist everything down- but don't saturate it.
Feed your worms once or twice a week. Push aside the topmost layer of carbon, add the fresh food, and then replace the shredded carbon on top.
The third bin (which is also riddled with holes) only comes into play once your initial bin is full of rich, yummy worm compost. When it's time to get the worms out to harvest your compost- place the new bin on top of the old one and create a layer of food and carbon in the new bin. Then wait for the worms to migrate up through the bottom most holes into their new bin. Once all the worms have come up into the new bin in pursuit of fresh food, remove it and empty out the old one into your garden!
Worm queen tips
- Place your bin underneath something; a table, potting bench, or deck is ideal- while you want moisture in the bin, a lot of that will come from the food, and a heavy rain can flood the worms and drown them.
- Consider installing a spigot in the bottommost tub so you can drain out the worm tea without taking the whole stack apart.