Worm composting indoors with kitchen scraps
Worm composting indoors with kitchen scraps is easy so let find out the best way to start.
We all generate food scraps, so the question is how can you use these scraps in a way that is useful, environmentally friendly and good for your plants.
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The easy answer is to start a compost bin.
But what happens if you live in a place that doesn’t allow for an outdoor bin. If you don’t have the space or the ability to compost outdoors then compost indoors!
What is compost?
Composting is the breaking down of organic matter. In this case we are referring to kitchen food scraps. The material that remains after the matter decomposes is compost because of this the compost will be incredibly rich in nutrients.
Some of the things that can be composted include:
Worm composting is called vermicompost. Worms will break down the food scraps at a rapid rate.
A university study at Cornell found that worms will consume an average of 35% of their weight every day! That means if you start with a pound of red wiggles in your bin, your worms will eat an average of 2 1/2 pounds of kitchen scraps a week or 10 pounds a month!
Worms will eat the scraps and will “poop out” castings. Worm castings have been shown to contain reduced levels of contaminants and a higher saturation of nutrients than the organic materials before vermicomposting.
Worm casting’s super high nutrient levels are perfect organic soil conditioners and fertilizer.
How does a worm compost bin work?
Worm compost bins are fairly maintenance free. The worms do all the work.
Typical Red Wigglers are used in worm composting.
Any worms you have in your garden can work in your compost bin however Red Wigglers will compost much quicker and a higher volume than night crawlers or other worms.
You need to provide some shredded newspaper for a base, a few tablespoons of soil in a container and a dark place. Add food scraps as worm food regularly and keep the mixture moist. A spray bottle of water works great to keep them moist without drowning them. See DIY below for more details.
The worms will eat there way through the scrap, pooping out high nutrient castings.
Does worm composting smell?
Worm composting bins do not smell! A worm composting bin will be processing food very efficiently. This process will keep the bin from smelling or attacking pests.
If you start to see a problem there are easy solutions
Trouble shooting worm composting bins:
If the bin starts to smell it is because the worm to scrap ration is wrong. To solve the problem either increase the number of worms or reduce the amount of food scraps you are adding.
If the bin feels hot make sure it is out of direct sunlight. Bins do best when kept in the dark.
Add some extra newspaper or cardboard because this will add carbon to the mixture. A low carbon to nitrogen ratio will heat the compost
Make sure the mixture is moist. A dry mixture will heat up
Add more food. This will bring up the nitrogen levels and keep the worms happy
Put the bin in a warmer spot
Add more bedding, dry shredded newspaper
Check drain holes to insure they are not clogged
Use a spray bottle to wet down the mixture
Add more high water food scraps
Pests such as fruit flies
If you find that your bin is attracting pests try microwaving the scraps for a minute before add them to the bin. This will kill any bugs that could be present. Make sure you let them cool before adding the scraps to your bin.
What to do with the worm casting
Use your worm castings with existing plants by spreading a thin top layer to your pots. This is called top dressing. As you water the nutrients will find their way to the roots. You can top dress both indoor and outdoor gardens.
Use worm castings as an addition to your potting soil for a great boost of nutrients when starting or repotting plants. Mix a handful of castings before planting.
How to start an indoor worm composting bin
If you would rather try a DIY project, this is an easy one.
Take three dark rubber totes. I like the 18 gallon size.
Drill or cut several holes about an inch big in the bottom of 2 totes. Cut or drill several holes in one lid.
Place a tote with holes into the tote without holes. This will allow the moisture to drain out into the lower tote.
This liquid is wonderful to water your plants with as a compost tea.
Place 4 to 5 inches of shredded newspaper in the bottom of the top tote.
Then add a few table spoons of soil. Just enough to sprinkle over the papers. Lightly wet down the mixture
Add your worms
Then add some kitchen scraps.
The worms might take a few days to get use to there new home so don’t load up the scraps until you see them start to eat
Place the lid with air holes on the tote and put it in a warm dark place. Worms like a temperature between 50-75 degrees
Keep adding scraps! Your pet worms need to eat
When you see an amount of casting that will be good harvest for you. Remove the lid.
Add the third tote on top Make sure you add the same newspaper and soil layers as you started with. replace the lid.
The worms will migrate to the new tote because they will follow the food.
When all the worms have migrated remove the middle tote.
You now have a tote full of nutrient rich worm castings ready for your garden. Take this time to drain the bottom tote. This liquid is compost tea which your plants will love.
I hope you try worm composting indoors with kitchen scraps and
Please read organic potting soil vs non organic to learn the best ways to use your compost.
Please leave comments and share this post with all your gardening friends!