J. and I went back and forth awhile about if and how we wanted to compost. Back in Colorado we lived in a small apartment and decided against it. Once we moved to Philadelphia I had great intentions that I never did anything about until a week ago. So while we may be late to the party at least we came :).
We are total novices when it comes to composting but seeing as how we don’t have a yard (we don’t count our concrete pad) we decided to vermipost. It’s easy to build a worm bin and you can keep them just about anywhere. Ours are currently making their home in the basement laundry room. I would like to have purchased a four story Wormtopia but that’s not in the budget so we opted to make our own. There are only two of us and if we need to we can stack home made bins on top of one another or move the worms into a new bin once they have completed their mission in the first and then rotate between the two. All that’s down the road a couple months though. First we need to see how they do in the first bin. We purchased our worms from Uncle Jim’s. There are other vendors online and you may be able to find worms locally but we struck out every place we tried. We did not buy Jim’s Super Red’s (complete with Superman capes if the website is to be believed) since they cost more then twice as much and honestly I’m not convinced that a worm is worth twice as much as another worm.
So far our worms are doing well. They live in a single 10 gallon plastic bin and to get them started we filled the bin with shredded newspaper, some more dirt and a plethora of fruits and vegetables. So far the only down side is the ick factor. I realize that worms are not really gross and they are performing an important function but they still kind of gross J. and I out and the first time we opened the bin they were all over the lid which I hadn’t expected. I suppose to prevent that you could put a layer of cardboard over the worms and lift that only to feed them. We now have a pair of worm tongs 🙂 so that we can gently move them as needed. Now that they are more settled though I’m sure we will adjust and we are excited about having nice compost in time for next spring planting!
In case you are wondering what to feed them (because if you don’t have your own I’m sure you are dying to try it out!) worms apparently love just about any kitchen scrap with the exception of dairy, fats (including oils), and meats. They LOVE breads, grains, fruits and vegetables and coffee grounds, filters and tea bags. Estimates vary slightly but generally speaking a pound of worms (1,000) can eat a pound of kitchen scraps a day! If you are like us and being very careful to waste as little as possible and thus creating some interesting meals you will want to keep this in mind when deciding how many worms to purchase. We opted for a 1/2 pound of worms that can happily munch on garlic peals and other scraps that can result from cooking versus expecting the worms to eat leftovers.
Some things to watch out with worms are the bin being to wet or to dry. If it’s too wet then you want add some more dry bedding, add more ventilation holes or stop feeding them for awhile (this is key if you notice the bin stinks because the worms can’t eat the food fast enough). If it’s too dry then add moistened bedding and if you find fruit flies then you want to make sure you are burying the food scraps within the bedding. This encourages the worms to eat it and lessens the smell and presence of fruit flies.
That’s pretty much the extent of our “expertise” but you can find more information here or you can google worm composting and check out the plethora of websites and books that discuss the topic in depth.