It sounds nasty, right? Like vermin...composting stuff. Ewwww.....
A happy helper speeds up the fluffing process for the newspaper strips
We started vermicomposting in our garage just over a year ago now, and seriously: it is SO SIMPLE. In a nutshell, you keep a box of worms handy, and feed them raw fruit and veggie scraps. You give them a quiet and dark place to live, and they eat the produce and leave you with worm castings, which are an amazing addition to your garden soil.
The quintessential guide to vermicomposting is Mary Apelhopf's book, Worms Eat My Garbage. It's more like a really big pamphlet than a book, but that's because this is really simple stuff. If you're interested in setting up your own compost station, I definitely recommend her book!
Here is how we've dealt with our system:
- I started with a medium-sized styrofoam cooler, picked up from a Freecycler, punched full of holes for ventilation.
- I tore black and white newspaper into strips, and got them sponge-damp, and filled the box halfway full
- I added half a pound of red wriggler worms purchased at the farmer's market. They multiply, but they hate light. I've never actually seen more than a worm or two! You can purchase worms online, too.
- One pound of worms can eat about 3 pounds of food scraps a week- if you chop the food up, they can eat it faster, but it's not necessary.
- I like to add the scraps to the corners of the box, rotating around clock-wise, so it's spread evenly. You'll want to add a handful or two of dry newspaper strips every time you add food, to combat the moisture and to cover the scraps.
- For all intents, every vegetable and fruit has fruit fly eggs on it: either freeze the scraps or microwave them to kill the fruit flies, so you don't get an infestation. Fruit flies won't hurt anything, but they sure are annoying!
- Bugs and mold is normal in the vermicompost bin. I've found small amounts of white mold, roly poly bugs, and other tiny bugs and wormy things I can't identify. As long as you keep good conditions in your box (food, not too much) these bugs and worms will stay in the box and break everything down. (If they're leaving the box, you know something's wrong in there.)
- This doesn't smell. Promise. Worms like dark, and don't like vibration- too much stress, and they'll actually die. Otherwise I'd have this bin under the sink, but the garbage disposal and dishwasher would be too much for them.