For years I have composted my kitchen waste into a compost heap or Possibility Pile, but I must admit, many times my compost bucket will get “ripe” before I remember to take it out to the garden. Decomposition does have a distinctive smell, and naturally this is not something I want in the house. I recently found a new way to compost my kitchen waste without smell or hard work. I found some “ladies” who are now taking care of my problems.
My ladies are actually a group of red wiggler earth worms and they live in a plastic tote box in my laundry room. These ladies can eat a hundred times their weight in kitchen waste, and they turn all that waste into rich fertile vermicompost that feeds my garden. Composting gold is made in my home everyday, without smell or hard work.
There are many advantages to vermicomposting. It produces fewer odors and attracts fewer pests than putting food wastes in the garbage. It saves the water and electricity that a sink garbage disposal unit would use. It requires little space or labor. It produces high quality fertile compost – worm castings are a natural fertilizer. It keeps food wastes out of the landfill. Food wast in the landfill decomposes without oxygen, creating methane gas, which is a major contributor to global warming.
All you need to vermicompost are a worm bin, bedding, water, worms and food scraps. You can buy a ready-made worm bin, or you can us a simple plastic bin or wooden box. It will need to have a cover for darkness, and holes for air circulation. I use a large Rubbermaid tote box that I have drilled several holes alone the stop for ventilation.
The worms need to burrow in bedding to bury the garbage. Shredded paper, cardboard or leaves will work. This is a great way to recycle your junk mail and catalogs. Run this paper waste through a paper shredder and add to the bottom of you box. This bedding must be kept moist, so regular mistings of water are necessary.
Use only red worms, or “wigglers”, which are the composting worms. Feed your worms non-meat kitchen waste, such as veggie and fruits peelings and scrapes, tea bags, coffee grounds, egg shells and paper products like coffee filters, napkins and paper towels. Occasionally, when the worms are working to efficiency, you can give them a rare amount of meat, but this should not be done on a regular basis.
Every few months, remove the rapidly multiplying worms from the box and use the rich vermicompost to fertilize houseplants and garden vegetables. After cleaning the box thoroughly, add shredded paper products to the bottom and add the worms back to start the process over.
Be warned, the worms reproduce rapidly because all they do is eat and multiple. You will probably have too many worms to add back to one box, so be prepared to start new worm boxes. Or you can add a few worms to several areas of your garden. They will burrow to soft garden soil and begin their cycle of eating and reproducing as if they had never been moved.
Worm farms would be a wonderful idea for school children that are interested in gardening projects. Worm boxes could be set up at school and then the children could feed the worms with all the left over school meals. This would teach a valuable lesson in the art of recycling and improving the Earth.
So the next time you don’t eat all your house salad at lunch, bring it home in a doggy bag. Can’t eat all that bread left in the complimentary breadbasket? Bring it home to the ladies. Tired of dumping used coffee filters and coffee grounds in the trash? Feed it to the ladies. These ladies are heard working and they work for food, so the more food and kitchen waste you have, the happier your ladies will be. You will be rewarded by a decrease in kitchen waste and an increase in produce from the garden