Composting at Home
Indoor worm composting is a great Eco-friendly solution!
Composting: what is it?
Composting is an activity that will increase your contribution to a more sustainable planet and benefit the future generations. Our organic waste, when compiled and appropriately maintained can create fertile soil for reuse on lawns and gardens.
Composting can be very beneficial for soil enrichment and moisturizing, healthier plants, stimulation of beneficial bacteria and fungi production and landfill’s methane emission reduction, lowering your carbon footprint.
Worm composting is when we use worms to speed up the process of transforming food scraps and other organic materials into humus called vermicompost, also known as worm compost. Worms will eat those organic materials, which will later become compost as they pass through the worm’s body.
Instead of using the waste disposal system on your sink, or even doing nothing about your organic residuals, you should consider making compost from your scrap foods, making it a better alternative in comparison to sink disposals, which are not so eco-friendly as they use a lot of water.
There are few different ways to compost such as, automatic composters (that require electric power), bins that use the bokashi method (which consists in mixing the food scraps with bokashi (which is an inoculant of beneficial microorganisms) that will promote fermentation. In this article, we will focus on worm composting.
How to get started?
The first step is to buy a compost bin that can be used indoors. Please take a look at our article on our favorite compost bins, and find the one that will suit you the best!
The compost bin should be in a handy place where, of course, will not block the passage. Next to the kitchen usually is more suitable. It is a good idea to place it under the sink or in a closet. Keep in mind that it should be kept in a cool place with temperature ideally in the range of 57 to 77 Fahrenheit.
Once the compost bin is at the right place
The first level of compost will allow the air to pass through as well as facilitates the drainage. A layer of smooth rock loosely placed on the bottom of the bin will help.
When you start to add to your compost it is easier to think in layers: start with the bottom layer of coarse materials to further enable the air and drainage passage, and then layer between “brown” waste and “green” waste.
“Brown” waste may consist of, autumn leaves, wood chips, sawdust, pine needles, paper towels, newspaper and coffee filters, and “green” waste consists of, food wastes, fruits and vegetables, egg shells, tea bags, coffee grounds, grass clippings, and weeds.
Another tip is to add a layer of soil on top of each layer of waste because that will help speed up the process.
You can buy earthworms online. A pound of red wrigglers are a good choice since they will consume waste quickly, but earthworms work too.
Be aware that worm compost bins will produce more worms as well as higher quality compost!
Feeding the worms
Worms like to eat many things that we eat. Collect food scraps, such as left-over fruits and vegetables, grains, bread, tea bags, coffee grounds and cereal in your food scrap container as you prepare and clean up after meals.
Do not include any animal by-products (fat, bone, dairy, meat, waste). Also, keep in mind that it may take the worms longer to process woody or dry items like stems or the outer layer of onions. Worms will eat paper as long as it is thin or cut into small pieces, but they will not eat plastic or fabric tea bags, coffee filters or the labels.
Avoid overfeeding in general, especially tomato and citrus (it should not make up for more than 1/5 of the total food offered to the worms).
Never feed Meats, fish, Greasy foods, Dairy products, Twigs and branches, Dog/cat feces or cat litter.
Keep in mind that the best thing to do is to feed the worms once a week in small amounts. It is an excellent way to avoid “smelling issues” since if you feed them more than they can process, the scraps will accumulate and make the compost bin quite stinky.
If the worms are processing the scraps too slowly, the best thing to do is to chop up the scraps into smaller pieces or even reduce the amount of organic matter you feed regularly and stock them in a kitchen compost pail.
Starting your worm compost bin with fewer worms is a good way to go until you better understand their behavior and figure out what the ideal worm population should be.
Maintaining your compost bin
Once a week, you should:
- Take your organic residues to the bin.
- Add in a handful of shredded paper.
- Place the food scraps on top of the paper.
- Cover the food scraps with the brown scraps and wet paper to avoid attracting flies. Keep adding dirt and moisturized paper to the bin until the compost produced by the worms can cover the food scraps.
- Always pay attention to what the worms are eating and what they are not. Keep in mind that they may eat some of those after cutting into smaller pieces.
Once every few months you should:
- Use the liquid at the lower container as fertilizer on soil near plants (outdoor), or water it down to use indoor.
- If your worm bin becomes overpopulated by worms, you can share some with friends, release some in your yard or start a new worm bin!
When is it time to harvest your compost?
The right time to collect the compost is when the contents of your bin have turned to brown earth like worm castings. It will be the right moment to harvest your compost and to make new bedding to your worms.
To harvest your compost, push the partially composted food scrap to the middle of the bin and add more food scraps so that the worms will end up heading to the new food. Once they move to the newly added food pile, you will be able to remove the castings without taking the worms out.
Making your fertilizer is eco-friendly and can become a fun hobby and a remarkable educational activity for your kids. Get started and do your part to make this world a better place.
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