Worm composting, also known as vermicomposting, is one of the most common ways to compost. Using worms makes composting relatively quick, easy, and odorless. An added bonus is that it can be done both outside or indoors (do not worry and you will not have worms crawling all over your kitchen!). Worm composting is not that hard to learn, but there are a few basics to know before you get started.
Before you get started, you may wonder why it is even necessary to use worms for your composting when it is possible to compost without the crawly creatures. Worms are ideal because the compost they create from their castings is rich and full of nutrients, and they do much of the work so you don’t have to. For example, when you have worms you do not have to worry about rotating your compost, since the worms will be doing that themselves. You also do not have to worry as much about the moisture in the compost pile, since the worms will regulate that. The worms require little work and they make it easier for you since you do not have to find the perfect chemical balance to create your compost.
The first step in worm composting is to get a compost bin which will house your worms. Such a bin can be bought, but it does not have to be anything fancy. A simple plastic bin or Rubbermaid container often does the trick. One important thing to note is that you may not wish to get a clear container for your bin, since worms thrive best in the darkness. This also means that you want to keep the bin in the shade and out of direct sunlight.
Once you have your bin, you need to add bedding material for your worms. This is an important step that is best not to be overlooked, since you want to create the best environment in which your worms will thrive and reproduce. Bedding should include a mixture of carbon-rich and absorbent materials such as leaves, cardboard, finished compost, manure, soil, and shredded paper. Make sure the bedding is a bit damp by wetting it with a spray bottle. Because you are creating the home for your worms, you want to make sure the bedding is at least 4 inches deep, as this ensures they will have plenty of room to move around.
When it comes to composting, not all worms are created equal! It is important to get red worms because they thrive in tight spaces, reproduce quickly, and eat more than half their own body weight each day. When you add your worms, you will also have to give them food right away (i.e. your compost scraps!). The best worm food includes coffee grounds, egg shells, manure, and fruit and vegetable waste. Make sure to continuously add waste to your compost pile, as the worms will need it the most to thrive.
After worm composting for several months you will see very nutrient rich compost which can be used to fertilize your plants or garden. When you no longer see any bedding, separate the worms from the new compost by pushing the compost to one side of the bin, while adding bedding and food scraps to the other side. The worms will gradually migrate to the new side, leaving you with a rich and fertile compost.