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Worms of Your Own

Getting started is easy. You just need a small bin, which you can easily buy or make. I use a plastic storage bin, with holes drilled in for ventilation. Another plastic pan sits underneath it to catch any excess liquid (what enthusiasts call “compost tea“).

Place a layer of soil the bin, add your worms and cover the top with lightly moistened newspaper. The worms will get to work immediately, and yes, they’ll begin by eating that newspaper.

What other waste will the worms eat? First, it should be plant matter, so avoid meat, dairy products and oils. My worms absolutely love coffee, as well as ground egg shells, greens, squash and melon rinds, tea bags, carrot shavings and most other veggie matter.

You can judge how much food your worms can handle. They breed regularly, and within a few weeks should be able to chomp through most of your kitchen scraps. The worm population will wax and wane depending on the amount of food you add to their bin.

Soon, dark soil will form from the worm casings (admittedly, a nicer term for worm droppings). You can then harvest these casings and use for your house plants or vegetable garden. To harvest, just start feeding the worms by placing all food in one corner of your worm bin; they will all congregate there. You can then simply scoop the worm-free soil from the rest of the bin.

Vermicomposting is catching on, and not just in the home. My favorite craft beer pub, the Bitter Creek Ale House, has a very large worm bin in its basement. While I’m enjoying a hoppy Northwest beer and local, organic food, below me thousands of worms are at work on the kitchen waste.

There are even industrial scale worm farms that convert dairy and pig manure, among other waste products, into compost. I once visited a huge warehouse filled with uncovered worm bins. Periodically, the worms would leave the bins en masse, coating the floor. The owner casually told me he merely used a hose to spray them into a corner, then shoveled them back into the bins—his version of a worm round-up.

I don’t recommend keeping the worms uncovered in your own home. But I do hope more people discover the hidden power of the worm—small creatures that convert our household waste into healthy, organic compost.

Matt Miller is director of communications for The Nature Conservancy’s Idaho program. A freelance outdoor writer and naturalist, Matt has traveled around the world in search of wildlife and stories. Opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Nature Conservancy.

(Image: compost worms. Source: Flickr user jarsyl via a Creative Commons license.)

Read more: Conservation, Eco-friendly tips, Environment, Green, Green Kitchen Tips, Home, Lawns & Gardens, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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10:31AM PDT on Apr 8, 2013

I have a 20 gallon worm bin under my awning on my back porch. I have just finished my first harvest, (designate a day off for this) and couldn't believe how much compost I got in just 2 months and they tripled in number. My chickens enjoy the live worm treats and my garden is blooming with color from it's rich compost. There are so many things worms love to eat that we throw in the trash. Paper towels, toilet paper centers, paper (organic, not treated), cardboard, animal waste,(including dog poop) kitchen scraps that my chickens don't eat, just about 80% of what we throw away! So start worm composting ! It's fun easy and cheap. Make your own bin. (mine cost $18.00 at Lowes, a 20 Gallon storage bin.)

3:22AM PST on Feb 23, 2013

I have a nice worm bin in the back yard that I have not worked for the last two years, time to buy some more worms.

10:33PM PDT on Aug 29, 2012

Thank you

12:45AM PDT on Jun 11, 2012


7:35PM PDT on May 22, 2012

More worms please.

1:25PM PDT on May 2, 2012

I find them so lovely and cute! Does anyone else think they are just super cute? When I was little I liked playing with earthworms in the yard... I never knew how much good they were doing. ^_^

9:38AM PDT on Mar 28, 2012

We use soil from our compost bin on our garden and it is full of worms. I used to freak out about the worms, but now I am used to them. They make the soil so rich.

6:08PM PDT on Mar 15, 2012

I love worms, they are fabulous in the garden.

4:25AM PST on Mar 3, 2012

Yay worms! I don't have a home of my own right now, but when I do you can bet there will be a worm bin sooner or later :)

2:46AM PST on Mar 2, 2012

i want to do this kind of composting but my husband wont allow it citing it would attract rats i disagree but cant get him to change his mind

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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