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Worm Composting (Vermicomposting) – make your own Eco-Friendly Black Gold:

April 7, 2009

 Jedd Clampet found his Bubbling Crude, Black Gold, Texas tea right in his back yard.  Now you too can make your own Eco-Black Gold and Compost Tea with Worm Composting.  It is simply amazing what those little Red Wigglers (Eisenia foetida) can do as they devour just about anything that comes out of your kitchen.  Just offer them egg shells, leftovers, coffee grounds, paper towels, even the cardboard circles that come with your frozen pizza and they will give you some of the darkest and richest soil around as well as some of the most nutrient packed liquid fertilizer available.

Many of you might already get compost from your composter bin, composting tumbler, or compost pile in the back yard.  If worm-binso, you should try the compost that comes from worm composting for even better results.  The worm castings and the liquid byproduct of worm composting, better known as Worm Tea have been found to be so beneficial to your garden that they are now commercially available.  Not only have they been found to be two of the best fertilizers available, they have the added benefit of being totally organic and can be used as fertilizer for your houseplants, mulch in your flower beds or compost in your vegetable garden.

Apartment dwellers and commercial establishments don’t usually have back yards available for traditional composting, but with worm composting all the space that is required is a corner of a utility room, a small closet, or the space under your kitchen sink to start to divert kitchen waste from the landfill.  A family sized worm bin only needs to be about two feet square, and as long as it is kept in a warm (between 40° and 80°F), dark and dry location the worms will do their magic.  More and more families are moving beyond back yard composting to worm composting.  In fact many restaurants, hotels and grocery wholesalers have turned to vermicomposting to reduce their volume of trash.  One brewpub in northeast Ohio has been doing this inside their facility for years, using worms to convert the food waste from its brewing and restaurant activities into soil in which to grow vegetables they then serve in the restaurant.

There are two options to getting started with worm bins: you can build one yourself or you can purchase one of the many commercially available worm composting systems.  The do-it-yourself route is a very inexpensive way to get started, but you will still need to purchase red worms since the worms that you find in your back yard will not survive for long in a worm bin.  If you do choose to make your own bin, you will need to make sure to provide enough air circulation and water drainage to keep the worms from suffocating and drowning.  Numerous types of containers can be used from plastic tubs to old dresser drawers as long as they are wide and shallow (8” to 12” deep) and they have a cover to keep light out.  The commercially available residential sized systems start at about $100, but they make it very easy to add food and bedding, automatically separate the worms from the finished compost, drain the excess liquid, and are proven to provide the correct amount of ventilation.  They are also typically made of several smaller trays so they are easier to handle and move around than one large tub.

Recycling and back yard composting can help to greatly reduce the waste that we send to the landfill, but there are still a number of things that are not recommended for a traditional composter.  Worm bins however can accommodate a fair amount of egg shells, meat and dairy products, soiled paper and cardboard, as well as that last scoop of your dinner that no one can eat and is not worth saving.  Some worm composting experts have even suggested that cat feces can be safely and fully composted in your worm bin, however cat litter and urine should not be composted.  On average, two pounds of Red Wigglers can devour about one pound of waste every day, and the number of worms in your bin will slowly increase or decrease to match the amount of waste they are fed. 

Whether you live in an apartment, are simply short on out door space, or just want to keep all of your organic kitchen waste from ending up in the landfill, then worm composting is the answer for you.  Furthermore, if you don’t have a garden of your own it should not be hard to find someone who will take the nutrient rich compost and worm tea off of your hands.  Worms may not make you rich, but worm compost will make your soil as rich as a Beverly Hillbilly. 

Dan Bossenbroek


DropJack!

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