How to make worms turn your organic waste into compost
This is one of the butterfly moves that I had the most fun with. At first, my instinct was to be turned off by the idea of having worms in my own house, but when I purchased 2000 composting worms and they started eating my waste, I quickly became a total worm fan! Now I get excited when I see worm balls in the bin happily devouring all of my scraps and instead of repulsive, I actually find them to be quite cute 😉
Of course it would take a lot more than a blog post to teach you what you need to know about worm composting before you start, but I will give you the points that I think are the most convincing about why you should get a worm bin yourself, and if you are intrigued by this information… or even better, if I have convinced you to get one, I recommend that you read the book that taught me most of what I know about worm composting “Worms eat my garbage” By Mary Appelhof and Joanne Olszewski.
First of all, let’s discuss why composting in the first place is essential to decrease your environmental footprint. The organic waste that we produce in our households and constantly throw away in our trash, in the majority of situations around the world, gets transported into a landfill. But this organic material is completely useless in a landfill. These appalling, disturbing places have no plants or creatures around that can take advantage of it using it as a source of new life. Instead, it just gets decomposed by bacteria and releases greenhouse gasses into the air, half of which is methane. Landfills are the third largest source of methane emissions in the US and methane is 30 times more harmful than CO2 initially, because it traps more heat. Therefore, controlling its release can have a higher short-term positive impact on climate change, making it one of the most effective ways to slow global warming NOW.
On the other hand, the same organic waste that would go into a landfill has a huge potential to turn into a precious material that not only helps other plants grow but also prevents pests from killing them without the need for chemical fertilizers… and this precious material is vermicompost, also called worm castings, which is essentially worm poop.
Now, most people that think of composting immediately imagine a large pile of smelly waste, but the truth is that there are ways to compost your waste without the need to have a lot of space or even a bad smell. So, the first thing that I like about worm composting is that it doesn’t smell at all. In fact, I have the worm bin inside my house, because in Houston it gets too hot for them in the summer, and Ale has hers in her small Parisian balcony . You can stick your nose in there and all you will smell is the smell of earth…. Hmmm. Why? Because what makes organic waste smell bad is usually bacteria, but the worms eat the food before it completely rots and gets taken over by bacteria.
The second thing I love about worm composting is that they eat a lot of the paper and cardboard boxes that I get from packaging, this is what is called the worm “bedding” material because worms live in it… but also eat it, haha.
The third thing I love about them is how simple it is to take care of them. Unlike most living creatures that you can care for in your home, you can even leave on a vacation without having to worry about them running out of food and dying. Worms are incredibly resistant and if by any chance something goes wrong in your bin, they repopulate in no time, only 8 of them can produce 1,500 offspring within six months!
And the last and most obvious thing I love about worm composting is that they turn all of this material that they eat into the best possible fertilizer for my plants. If you don’t have any plants at home, don’t let this discourage you, this vermicompost is a very precious gift for anyone you know who does have plants, or even better, a garden. They will be so excited!
There could be an added plus to this for you and it’s that kids can participate and enjoy having them too, it lends itself for good family quality time together.
If you want to get a worm bin but are worried about the cost, don’t be. You can use many different containers for this purpose, or even make one yourself. Just search in YouTube for videos on DIY worm bin.
In terms of my specific experience with vermicomposting (for those of you interested), I did a lot of research before choosing the bin that worked best for me and I got a flow-through worm bin. This system requires the least amount of work and manipulation on my part. There are several options to choose from, and the one I got is called the “Hungry Bin”. This design was engineered by a company in New Zealand and has worked great for me. I got the worms to start my bin shipped to me from Uncle Jim’s worm farm, because I could not find a place in Houston that had them. You can also buy worms from places that sell them as fishing bait, but you have to make sure they are the kind of worm species that work for vermicomposting, so get them from a reliable source.
Let us know your experience if you do this move.