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Rhonda J. Ferree

Rhonda J. Ferree
Former Extension Educator, Horticulture

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Rhonda Ferree's ILRiverHort

Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog

Compost indoors this winter with worms

Wonder what to do with your kitchen scraps besides run them through the garbage disposal? For a different twist on composting, try vermiculture. Also called worm composting, vermiculture uses small red worms to compost kitchen waste.

According to Extension Educator Jason Haupt, vermicomposting offers an alternative to composting that is less labor intensive and can be done anywhere. I know many people who compost with worms indoors in their basement or in a utility closet. If done properly the process produces no odor while the worms eat the fruit and vegetable peelings to produce high quality compost.

Worms will eat potato, carrot, apple, banana peelings, orange and grapefruit rinds, oatmeal, coffee grounds with the filter, tea bags, and crushed eggshells. Chopping or grinding the kitchen scraps in a blender will make it easier for the worms to eat the scraps.

Worm compost is high in nutrients and is an excellent soil amendment. Vermicomposting also produces "Worm Tea" fertilizer from excess moisture produced during the composting process. Another one of my colleagues uses her worm compost and tea on her houseplants.

Jason Haupt is new to our Extension office and has done several worm composting programs for school groups this year. Jason is an Extension Educator in Environmental and Energy Stewardship working from University of Illinois Extension, Fulton county branch office in Lewistown. Haupt's bachelor's and master's degrees are in environmental science from Taylor University in Indiana. Jason's programs focus on protecting and appreciating our environment and ensuring adequate and affordable energy.

Jason is offering Vermicomposting Basics (Worm Composting) on Saturday, Oct. 26 from 9:30 am to noon at the Tazewell County Extension office in Pekin. The class will consist of a short session on the basics of vermicomposting followed by instructions on how to construct a small vermicomposting bin.

Participants may choose a couple of different class options. The first option will be the entire 2 ½ hours and includes all materials needed for the worm bins. This option will cost $50.00 to participate and includes a vermicomposting bin complete with bedding and worms. The other option is to attend only the instruction portion of the class for free.

Learn more about Jason's programs and register for his vermicomposting program at or call 309-547-3711.

If you are unable to attend Jason's program, University of Illinois Extension has information available on The Adventures of Herman the Worm at Click on the "worm links" for links to several worm composting websites.

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