Vermicomposting: How to Compost With Worms

Worms can turn your everyday kitchen waste into rich compost that plants absolutely love, and you don't even need a garden plot to make it happen. Here's how to set up the perfect little worm ranch right in your home.

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7. Keep the bin in a place where the temperature doesn't fluctuate too much — between 55 and 70 degrees is ideal. Most folks keep their bins in a corner of the kitchen, mudroom, basement or garage.

8. Every month or two, add moist newspaper as needed to build the bedding back up. Never compress bedding.

Harvesting Your Compost

As needed, pour off "worm tea" from drainage tray — this is great plant food. Every few months, separate the worms from their "castings" — aka worm poop — which is the stuff that makes vermicomposting so terrific. The least messy technique involves an expensive harvester. Here's a low-cost technique:

Three or four months after getting your bin going, start putting scraps only on one side of the bin. Eventually most worms will head over to the food side. Scoop out the compost on the non-food side, place any stray worms back into the bin, add new bedding to the empty side and begin placing food scraps on that side. Once the worms have migrated again, scoop out the other side.

Alternate method:
Empty the entire bin onto a tarp in the sunlight (artificial light also works). The worms don't like light, so they'll head for the bottom of the pile. Scoop the castings from the top until you reach the worms. Shine the light again until they burrow deeper, then repeat. Add new bedding to the bin, add worms and, once they've burrowed, start feeding them again.

1. Avoid a smelly bin by monitoring its moisture and aeration. Worms will sometimes try to escape by crawling to the top. This means they need more air. Check to make sure your bedding is fluffy — you can "stir" it gently with your hands. You can also drill additional air holes near the top and along the sides.

2. Worms will reproduce pretty quickly. Share some with friends or add another bin if your family produces more than 3 1/2 lbs. of scraps per week.

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