Wild Gourd Farm

Organic Gardening in St. Louis City

Frugal Friday: Vermicomposting

Worm bins are an easy and convenient way to compost kitchen scraps and organic waste without taking up too much space. For about $15, you can create your own continuous supply of rich compost.  Here’s our worm bin: The worm bin, in all of its glory The worms live in the top bin. We drilled air holes on the side along the top of the bin- you can drill them into the top lid too, but then you don’t want to leave it outside in the rain (we keep ours under our kitchen sink but wanted the option of keeping it outside). The environment needs to be moist but not too damp, so we also drilled holes in the bottom of the first bin for drainage, with a screen on the inside to keep any of our little worms from escaping.  We then placed the first bin inside another bin, putting bricks at the bottom of the lower bin to elevate the top bin for adequate drainage.

In our experience, though, you don’t need the holes or bottom drainage bin if you practice proper moisture control. We’ve found that periodically adding newspaper or extra soil helps prevent the habitat from getting too damp.

We started with 3 containers of red wigglers we bought from a local bait shop, as they are known as hardy and efficient composters. You can also buy them online, sometimes even on Craigslist. Red wigglers also reproduce rapidly, which makes it easy to increase your compost production.

To start we gave them a base of newspaper, dirt and leaf compost, then added diced vegetable scraps every few days. The smaller the food, the more quickly it is broken down.  We replenish the food regularly. Your compost is ready when there are no visible scraps in the worm castings.

You can harvest your compost by pushing everything to one side of the bin and then introducing new food on the opposite side. Most of the worms will seek out and migrate toward the food, leaving their castings behind, though you’ll need to pick out a few stragglers by hand.

Inside the bin

We use our worm castings to add nutrients to our garden soil before planting, as top dressings around seedlings that have been planted, and in the form of “compost tea,” sprayed on plants when watering.

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3 responses to “Frugal Friday: Vermicomposting

  1. MommyMuffin April 29, 2011 at 8:47 am

    I can’t wait to see these creepy crawlers….Somehow, Becca, I never imagined you extolling the virtues of vermin while you were growing up. Absolutely awesome!!!

  2. Quinerly May 15, 2011 at 8:52 am

    I, too, want to take a look. need one for myself for my courtyard garden and container gardening. great idea. keep up the good work!

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