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worm compost

Worm Aversion Conversion

Posted by Beth Allhands -

 

I have been composting yard and organic material for a while now, and will continue to do so. However, when I have just a few food scraps, sometimes it can be inconvenient either to carry them outside to the compost pile, or to save to do later. Deciding to add options to my repertoire, I thought I'd give worm composting, also called vermicomposting, a try. Laziness and thinking of impending winter was part of my impetus to try indoor composting, I admit, but also I was just curious about it!

If you're even slightly curious too, here are a few facts to whet your appetite:

  • Red Wrigglers (or just plain red worms as anglers commonly know them) are the worm of choice for vermicomposting. Their scientific name is Eisenia fetida: Pronounced "iSEEnee a FETid a".
  • Happiest at temperatures between 50-70 degrees, they are adaptable to spans of 40-80 degrees.
  • Unlike earthworms, who carry their food deep into the soil, red worms are surface feeders. This makes them more ideally suited to live indoors.
  • Red worms can eat half their body weight in food each day. One pound of worms will consume about one-half pound food daily or about three and a half pounds each week!
  • They reproduce much faster than earthworms, and providing the living conditions are correct, can double in population every three months.
  • Vermiculture does not take much space, and produces little to no odor.
  • Vermiculture is an easy way to reduce uneaten food ending up in landfills, where improper de-composting conditions create methane gas as a by-product.
  • Vermiculture composting by-product is worm castings, a powerful additive increasing soil fertility.

I started my ready-made worm bin about three months ago. Cost for speciality made worm bins range from about sixty to a hundred dollars, but can be easily made from large rubber storage totes. Worms can be purchased on-line or even at local bait shops.

I’m not going to say I wasn’t apprehensive at first. I love science and nature as much as the next person, but I wasn't sure how I felt about growing worms, indoors!

Forging ahead anyway, I set up the bin, purchased 1000 worms (about one pound's worth) and proceeded with caution by adding a half-cup of vegetable peelings. A few days later, someone threw in a whole banana peel….gasp! A week and half-later, no visible banana peel left or whatever else I had initially added either, what was it again?

Astounding, right? I thought it was, and my worm aversion conversion was complete! The worms are now eating much of the daily kitchen scraps, and the little Adam-ily Family pets are so appreciated. Watch this cute micro video to see my real worms!

https://youtu.be/Fnf-uWPO0bw

This is the classic reduce, recycle, reuse mantra come to life, literally! Reduce the amount of food waste in the first place, of course. Reuse by finding uses for the half container of sour cream, and by eating leftovers from last night's dinner. Recycle anything you can, including food. I will add a third R here: re-purpose composted food scraps into wonderful plant fertilizer.

I still get a little amazed and always grateful for the transformation that takes place in my outdoor bin, turning organic material into that wonderfully brown black, nutrient rich substance called compost. However, I'm happy my occasional laziness and curiosity compelled me to try the fast, up-close and personal method of vermicomposting.

This might be a fun and educational thing to do with your family over the holiday, and a topic kids and even you could talk about with friends when break is over. If you don't get a chance to try it before then, consider signing up for a vermiculture workshop scheduled on February 10 at the Macon Extension office; all ages welcome. http://web.extension.illinois.edu/units/event.cfm?UnitID=478&EventID=76573

For a nice primer on the subject, see below- or as always contact your local Extension office for more information! go.illinois.edu/dmp

http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/plants/other/compost_mulch/hgic1607.html.



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