Want to reduce your garbage but don't have room for a backyard composter? Looking for an educational and fun project for the kids? Then put worms to work for you.
What is worm composting?
Worm composting or vermicomposting is natural way to recycle food waste by using redworms to convert food scraps into compost. It can be done year round, indoors and outdoors by apartment dwellers and other householders. The worm castings produced provide a nutrient rich organic fertilizer and soil conditioner for houseplants, gardens and lawns.
Sustaining the land, saving the landfill
About 500 gm or one pound of redworms can convert 3.6 kg of food waste per week into soil enriching compost. Over the course of a year that means sending 187 kgs less waste to the landfill and helping to reach the region's goal of diverting 75% of its waste from the landfill by 2010.
Give your worms air to breathe:
Cover the bin to conserve moisture and provide darkness for the worms. Indoors, place a sheet of dark plastic or burlap sacking on top of the bedding, or cover with an aerated lid. Outdoors, use a solid lid to keep out unwanted scavengers and rain.
Worm bins can be kept in the basement, shed, garage, on the balcony or under a kitchen counter. They must be kept out of hot sun, heavy rain and cold. When temperatures drop below 4ºC, bins should be moved indoors or be well-insulated.
Suitable bedding materials include shredded newspaper and cardboard, dry leaves, chopped-up straw, seaweed, dried grass clippings, peat moss, compost and aged manure.
After adding worms to your bin feed them by:
The quickest method is to shift the finished compost to one side of the bin, put new bedding in the space created, and place food waste in the new bedding. The worms will gradually move over and the finished compost can be skimmed off as needed.
If you have the time or want to use all of the compost at once, dump the entire contents onto a large plastic sheet and separate the worms manually.
Most children love to help!
Watch for the tiny lemon-shaped worm cocoons that contain up to 20 baby worms. Separate and store the finished compost in plastic bags. Return the worms and cocoons to the bin, and mix some finished compost with the new bedding.
Using your finished compost
Your garden and houseplants will benefit from the humus produced by worm composting. Applying it will improve the texture of clay and sandy soils and restore essential nutrients. Your flowers, plant and vegetables will thrive!
Overloading your bin with food waste may result in unpleasant odours. Here are some solutions: