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Vermicomposting At Home

Want to turn your kitchen scraps to black gold with the help of a few hundred worms? It’s easy to do and provides a way to turn kitchen waste into fertilizer. There are different size kits and containers you can buy especially designed for vermicomposting, or you can save a little money and design your own worm bin.

1. Purchase a 10- to 18-gallon plastic bin with a lid. Do not buy a clear plastic container—the worms need darkness.

2. Drill plenty of air holes in the sides, bottom and lid of the container—each about 1/4” in diameter.

3. Shred corrugated cardboard and newspaper or junk mail to use for the bedding. The shredded material should be damp, but not dripping wet. Place the dampened paper in the bottom of the bin to a depth of about two inches.

4. Place about a pound of worms and all the substrate they were packed in into the bin. There are thousands of other little organisms and insects in the substrate that aid in the breakdown of the plant waste.

5. Place kitchen scraps into the bin. Adding the right amount will take some experimentation. Put enough matter in the bin to keep your worms fed for a week or so, but not so much so that it rots and attracts flies.

6. Cover the scraps completely with more shredded paper or a 100-percent cotton T-shirt. Keeping the food waste covered will keep the flies away.

7. Elevate your worm bin above an old baking sheet to collect the nutrient-rich moisture that leaches out the bottom. This can be diluted and used to water the garden. Keep the bin in a well-ventilated, shady place. Worms work their best at temperatures between 59˚F and 77˚F.

8. After three or fours months, harvest your worm bin by separating the vermicast from the worms and any uneaten food or bedding. Keep the leftover bedding and scraps laden with beneficial organisms for your new setup. Word to the wise: wear gloves while harvesting.

What to put in your worm bin:

Banana peels, moldy bread, apple cores, orange peels, wilted lettuce, carrot peelings, mushroom stalks, asparagus stalks, onion peels, pineapple rinds, rotten fruits and veggies, junk mail.