Saturday, June 27, 2015

Composting with Worms in Small Spaces

A short while ago I decided I wanted to incorporate composting into my life again. I currently stay in a condo with a small patio. Not ideal for a composting operation from my experience. Additionally a lot of my clients live in townhomes or condominiums. So I set out to discover a composting option for those of us with limited space. Or really even if you have a large area but want to give composting a whirl this is a good option, worm composting is certainly not exclusionary in my opinion. 

First and foremost I suppose I should address this by its official title, vermicomposting, at least once...ok I'm done. 

Now let me be upfront, I am still learning here and a lot of this has been trial and ERROR. But if you want to learn from my mistakes and give it a go yourself I don't think you will regret it. 

Why use worms to compost? 

Worms will eat your food scraps (not all) and other organic materials and leave you with a nutrient dense compost you can then use in your garden or yard. Technically you will reduce the amount of waste leaving your household and heading off to the landfill and put it to good use. Win-Win it would seem, my favorite result.

Is this going to be disgusting? 

Everything I read was like NO it will not be gross at all! IF (big IF) you do it right. There is that pesky doing it right issue. Personally I have ZERO issues with worms, I have been digging for worms since I was a kid, so the worms themselves do not heeb me out. But if worms aren't your thing then yes you may find it disgusting. 

Is it expensive or time-consuming? 

Nope and Nope. As with anything in life you can make it expensive if you set out to. Setups are available from several online and local retailers with everything you need to get going in the worm compost world. Alternatively you can take a swing at it yourself, results may vary accordingly. I am queen of cheap so I will show you the setup I used below. 

For my bin I went to IKEA and purchased this dandy little bucket. I believe they market it as a recycling bin (now that I think of it, this is a very accurate description IKEA, well done!)

I paid something like 3.99 for this thing. 

For my bedding material I stole a newspaper from my grandparents and cut up the boring parts into strips, moistened them...and away I went. 

My only other expense was the actual worms. Red worms are what you want for worm composting. I would love to act intelligent and tell you why but frankly I don't know aside from night crawlers in the yard needing to crawl and dig or something. Experts say red redworms I purchased

I ordered my worms from Uncle Jim's Worm Farm and was pleased with the experience. I couldn't find anyone handy locally to purchase them from and this worked well giving me time to prepare the worm house. 

I have the what? 

Ok the worms are in, I have my strips of moist newspaper (avoiding inky colorful parts as much as possible) in my bin...what do I do next? 

Those worms go in the bin and I start adding kitchen scraps. 

What should I put in my worm compost bin? 

Fruit and vegetable scraps, avoiding citrus fruits. A lot of my research just pointed to things that we would discover on our own, like avoiding overly smelly veggies like onions and maybe broccoli. Don't put animal or dairy products in. Basically just things that are going to get disgusting smelly while the worms chow down. 

It is that simple. 

Worm Food 

My main issue

My main piece of advice would be to just bear in mind they are just little worms and you should let them set the pace at which you feed them. I overfed mine in the worst way, the result was a bin that was pretty gross and smelled (only when you opened the lid though, so that IKEA bin is pretty good for keeping any smells in) 

To remedy my overfeeding fiasco I just eased up on the scraps I was throwing in and paid more attention to how quickly my worms were processing the food. 

My yummy almost fixed overfed compost

I now have a seemingly healthy little worm farm going and it is fun. I cannot throw all of my veggie and fruit scraps in so it's not like I am eliminating all of my organic matter kitchen waste, but I'm having fun, throwing less in the garbage and eventually (fingers crossed) will have some pretty nutrient rich compost to add to my garden! 

Give it a try!! 

Until the next time.. 

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