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How To Compost Kitchen Waste With Worms

Do you have kitchen waste such as fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, or stale bread? Have you considered composting these items? For people who live in more rural areas with large yards, it can be easy to compost kitchen waste along with yard waste in the back yard in a heap. However, many people live in urban areas in apartments or homes without yards and don’t have a place to compost their kitchen waste even when they want to.
The solution: composting with worms! Worm composting is different from traditional backyard composting because it can be done in a very small space, even indoors, and can be done year-round. This means that even on a balcony or in a closet, people can compost their kitchen waste all year long, thus reducing their carbon footprint as well as creating nutrient-rich compost for houseplants or gardens. There is no odor to composting with worms so you can even keep them under a kitchen sink or in the laundry room.

What Worms are Best for Composting Kitchen Waste?

epigeic_wormsThe worms used to compost kitchen waste are Epigeic worms. In nature, these worms live only at the very top of the soil and eat only decaying organic matter – they compost this material and thus replenish nutrients in the soil. They do the same work in a worm bin – they eat the decaying organic food scraps, and, with the help of microorganisms, turn it into nutrient-rich compost in the form of castings, or worm poop.

Learning how to compost kitchen waste with worms is simple. Place worms in your worm bin along with some bedding material (shredded paper, coconut coir, and dry leaves work great) and some kitchen scraps, and let them get to work. Worms can eat up to half of their body weight in food per day, so your feeding rate will depend on how many worms you have. Your worms will begin to eat the food you added, indicating that it’s time to add more. If you use a stacking worm bin, you will have several batches of compost going at once with the oldest on the bottom and newest on top. You can then harvest the finished compost from the bottom and use it in your garden or houseplants.

Worm compost contains worm castings (worm poop) and humus, or broken down organic material. The castings in this mixture have, on average 5x the available Nitrogen, 7x the available Potash, and .5x the available calcium as average topsoil. Worm compost can be used outside or inside the home – work it into soil outside before planting or add it to potting soil for houseplants. It can also be used as a top dressing to fertilize plants periodically throughout the season.

Choosing a Worm Bin

There are various types of worm bins for worm composting. Some are huge and are used to reduce commercial waste, while others are small enough to fit in an apartment or on a balcony. In addition to size variations, there are operational differences. Some commercial worm bins use stacking systems with trays, while some people build their own that are in just one chamber made from a Rubbermaid bin. People also compost with worms outside in windows or use flow-through systems. We suggest using a stacking system with trays such as the Worm Factory 360.
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