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Grow with KARE: Worm composting

Bobby and Laura try out vermicomposting, which is a composting method that uses worms to eat your food scraps!

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — Many of us have a compost pile in our backyard. It takes several months or even up to a year to compost our food scraps.

Vermicomposting, or worm composting, is a quicker process. Instead of traditional compost as an end product, you get worm castings, which are a fantastic fertilizer and soil conditioner for vegetables, flowers, houseplants… all plants!

A couple years ago, Bobby gave me this book for Christmas, and it’s a great resource. So is the Urban Worm Company website.

There are a lot of setups you can use, even some almost free DIY ones! We are using a setup here from Urban Worm Company. It came in the mail and here’s the steps to get it started:

  • First choose a bedding and get it moist. I used coconut coir. But you can also use shredded newspaper, dead leaves, straw or peat moss. You can’t have too much of this.
  • Next add the worms. Red wigglers or European nightcrawlers. These are special worms that you buy, not ones you dig up from the backyard.
  • Then start feeding the worms your garbage!!

Most vegetable and fruit scraps are good to go in the bin. Egg shells, coffee grounds and filters, cardboard and newspaper are all good too.

Avoid citrus, onions and garlic.

Meat and bones, oils, pet waste and poisonous plants should never go in your worm bin.

Feed a little at a time, then gradually more. If your worm bin starts to smell, you’re overfeeding it. There shouldn’t be an odor.

And that’s a good thing because in our cold Minnesota weather, the worm bin has to stay inside. Mine has been living in my dining room. The worms can survive in weather 55 to 90 degrees, so put them outside in a sheltered spot for the summer if you’d like.

About 4-6 months after you start you’ll have some finished product. Worm castings. 

Top dress these worm castings on your plants or mix a bit in to your soil. And voila!