What is Worm Composting?

WHAT IS WORM COMPOSTING AND WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO DO IT?

Worm composting (also known as vermicomposting) is the art of using worms to help you break down the organic waste you produce at home to create fertilizer for your garden.

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The worms will produce both a liquid fertilizer, and worm castings. Worm castings are a solid, odor free byproduct of worm digestion. You can collect your worm castings periodically and use them as a soil addition, soil conditioner, or even light mulch.  Read more about using worm castings in the garden at this UMass Dartmouth website.

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Our worm bin (the Tumbleweed Worm Farm) is designed to catch liquid in the bottom of the bin as the worms work on the kitchen scraps. This allows us to periodically rinse out the bottom half of our bin which contains the liquid and distribute this natural fertilizer around or garden and on our houseplants.

Composting is a beneficial process that occurs in nature and helps to return important nutrients to the soil. If you go out to a primary forest, you’ll notice a thick layer of humus on the ground. This organic material comes from leaves, broken up branches, bark, decomposing fruits, etc.

At work in all that stuff are lots of critters, both visible and microscopic, breaking things down and helping keep a healthy balance in the soil. Worms are among those creatures that work to compost organic material back into the soil.

Because of composting, forest soils are rich in organic material and make very efficient use of nutrients in their ecosystems, minimizing waste.

In our own homes, composting generally does not occur without help from humans. We as homeowners need to take an active role in gathering kitchen scraps, leaves, grass clippings, etc., stirring them up, letting them decompose and returning them to the soil.

Unfortunately, if we don’t compost the organic material we produce, all this important organic waste, well, ends up going to waste and finds its way to big nasty landfills. When’s the last time you went to a landfill? Did you see lots of pretty flowers, shrubs, fruits and vegetables growing there? Not likely!

If we return at least some of the organic waste that we produce as humans to the soil, we are helping to contribute that that very efficient system that nature runs. We can also make beautiful gardens that are happy and healthy.

Where would you rather spend an afternoon?  A healthy garden fed with compost, or the city dump?

Most people are familiar with basic composting techniques such as maintaining a compost pile or using a compost bin. Worm composting is a unique form of composting that allows you to compost a variety of organic waste all year long.

It has several unique benefits. For example, you can compost in a small space, both indoors or outdoors, and all year long. Red wiggler worms, the kinds of worms used in composting, are voracious eaters, and are very good at their job of breaking down food scraps.

Red wigglers eat the bacteria that grow on food scraps and waste as it breaks down. They don’t eat the food itself. The red wigglers therefore speed up the decomposition process by eating all that bacteria that forms on decomposing waste.

The byproducts of the worms are a concentrated fertilizer that doesn’t smell and will do wonders for all your garden plants (the worm castings we mentioned earlier).

Even if you live in an apartment and don’t have a yard, you can compost with worms and use the soil conditioner produced by your worms to help out your houseplants.

The upshot is that composting with worms is an easy, efficient, and year round way to compost. It’s good for the environment and good for your garden. If you live in an apartment or don’t have a big yard and would still like to compost, then worm composting is a perfect option. You can buy or design a compost bin that’s the right size for the amount of food waste you produce.

And don’t worry, it doesn’t smell!

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