I have always wanted to know more about composting, so in honor of Earth Day this year, I caught up with my friend and compost enthusiast Lisa Sehannie, of Green Gurlz, to hear more about Vermicomposting (or worm composting). She taught me so much, and I’m excited to share this video with you. Not so you can laugh at me touching the worms [still cannot believe I did it], but to hopefully inspire you to take some steps to make a difference. For those of you following with children, this is a great lesson in how to reduce waste and trash, learn about the environment, and have fun while doing it!
Check out this edition of Kitchen Cures and the step-by-step directions below from Lisa! And for more green living tips, be sure to visit Green Gurlz.
Lisa’s Step-by-Step Instructions for Composting
The Bin—The Worm Home
Start with a simple Rubbermaid bin from your local big box retailer. In order to survive, worms need air, so drill circular holes in the bin. Two on each of the long sides and one on each of the short sides will do. Cover the holes with mesh, and glue/stick the mesh down (this will prevent the worms from escaping the bin).
Filling the Compost Bin
Add newspaper shreds to the bin, filling up about 75 percent of the bin. Make sure the newspaper is moist to the touch, but not dripping with too much water. This is where a small squirt bottle comes in handy. Now, you are ready to add worms.
The best worms to use for vermicomposting are called Red Wrigglers. This species of worms are shallow burrowers, which means they won’t try to dig out of the bin. They are also ferocious eaters! They can eat half of their weight in food scraps in one day! Search your local area for Red Wrigglers—you’re bound to find them somewhere nearby.
It’s Food Time!
Now that your bin is setup and your worms are hungry, it’s time to start feeding. Divide the bin into two sections (left and right). There is not an actual physical barrier, just a conceptual divide. That means that one side of the bin is in use and the other side is “resting.” Dividing the bin into sections proves helpful when you begin to harvest the compost. With food scraps on one side, the worms will gravitate toward that side to eat and create compost. Once you see the food scraps getting less and less in the working side, add food to the opposite side. The worms will then travel to that side of the bin to graze and you can easily harvest the compost from the original side. Many families place food scraps in a big bag that is stored in the bottom of the fridge until it’s time to feed the worms. Add food scraps to the bin once a week (or more frequently as needed).
Maintenance of the Compost Bin
Be sure to keep the bin supplied with moist newspaper shreds, or other bedding options, like cardboard. This serves as bedding for the worms. The bin should stay about 75 percent full of bedding. Over time, the worms will eat the bedding, so you will need to replenish it. Your moisture levels should be roughly 40-60% and to the touch, it should feel like a sponge that has been wrung out. To add more moisture, simply spray new bedding with a spray bottle. Keep in mind that the foods high in water content will also add moisture to the bin’s environment. You can balance out by adding foods with less or more water/moisture as you need. The temperature of a worm bin is quite different than of a traditional composting pile. Worms do best in temps between 55 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
Happy Composting and Happy Earth Day!