Thursday, August 13, 2009

Red Wriggler Worms

In bear country outdoor composting for food wastes is not an option. Bears don't need any encouragement around here to raid your yard for food. In addition to bears, there is the issue of everything freezing solid for about 6 months of the year around here. So this winter we composted right in our living room.

We didn't just throw our food in the corner and hope for the best. We enlisted the help of an incredible creature, Eisenia Foetida, also known as red wriggler worms. Our composters live in a Rubbermaid tub in the corner of our living room and happily devour our food wastes. They will consume up to half their body weight in food--everyday!

The worms' home

Worm food!

The worms aren't too picky. We just mix shredded newspaper with our food waste and make sure it isn't too wet or dry. The result is a sweet smelling, black, crumbly substance known as vermicompost, castings, or worm poop. Every few weeks we sort the worms out and put them back in the container. We then take the castings over to our vegetable plot where our spinach and lettuce very much appreciates the amazing food they get. And its no wonder, worm castings contain higher nutrient levels than the soil ingested. Additionally, the castings contain many beneficial microbes that help to build a biologically active soil. Finally, the castings contribute to the improvement to the physical structure of the soil.

worm castings-high quality soil food

More information is available at:

Worms will eat just about any food waste. However, extremely bulky or hard foods like citrus peels or egg shells take so long that they begin to decompose and smell. It is also not recommended to feed worms meat or dairy. While they will eat it there are many odor issues (and in our case there would be dog issues as well).

Using worms to compost food waste is an easy and effective method for closing waste loops. Roughly 1/3 of the waste that currently enters our landfills is decomposable (this includes both yard and kitchen waste). While it is impractical to try to feed a tree branch to worms much of our organic matter could be removed form the traditional waste stream and returned to our yards though composting. Worm composting is one composting tool ideal for people in cold climates, cities, or with wildlife issues. Besides, the worms are fun!

1 comment:

  1. I've been looking around my kitchen for a place to make a home for the worms and haven't yet found one. Will keep pondering it.

    This is a great blog. We'll look forward to keeping up with you and Marie as you begin life on the new farm. Many blessings - Grammie