In the 3rd part of our DIY composting series, we'll go over an easy indoor option that may be a perfect fit for those just looking to provide compost to a handful of potted plants or a small garden. Vermicomposting (composting with worms) can result in extremely rich compost. The worms are easy to obtain, easy to care for, and require less direct involvement than many other composting methods, making them a great option for anyone without a lot of time to commit to composting. This article won't go into depth on the intricate details of vermicomposting, but we'll give you enough info to get you pointed in the right direction. There are additional resources listed at the end of this article.
Compost Design: Vermicomposting, Worm Bin Composting
Ease of Install: *4/5 (store-bought); *3/5 (homemade with existing materials)
Cost of Setup: FREE to $200.00 each
Continuing Costs: $0.00
Ease of Maintenance: *4/5
Protection from Wildlife: **5/5 (if kept indoors)
* (1 being easiest, 5 most difficult)
** (1 offers zero protection, 5 is Fort Knox)
Easily assembled, whether from a kit or with existing materials
Lightweight and easily moved when empty
Can be easily maintained indoors
One of the least time-intensive composting methods
Worms create extremely rich, high quality compost
Limited capacity / limited output
Poorly maintained worm bins can result in strong odors
Poor maintenance can kill the worms
Anyone with minimal compost needs, such as those maintaining potted house plants and small gardens
Anyone looking for composting options that don't require strenuous activity
Anyone seeking extremely rich compost with minimal effort
Not ideal for:
Anyone spending long stretches of time away from the house. Though low maintenance, worms do require feeding and watering or they will die.
Anyone whose household creates high output quantities of compostable items. Worm bins will fill up quickly, which may require additional bins or a different composting method.
Anyone without a garage, shed, or other temperature-controlled space AWAY from the main living area of the house. Worm bins may be build for indoor storage but they do carry some odors that are best left away from your living space.
Why we love Vermicomposting:
It's hard to compete with the natural composting abilities of worms. A well maintained worm bin can create compost with unmatched nutrient density and richness. Large scale vermicomposting operations exist around the world, creating much of the "chocolate cake" like compost that's widely available in nurseries. Vermicompost is generally extremely high in moisture content as the worms act as food processors, turning all of the inputs into a well blended and processed output that is hard to match without extensive equipment and labor. Vermicompost is also great for producing compost tea, as it's often finer than the results of other composting methods, leading to quicker dissolution when added to water.
The work required to operate a successful worm bin takes place in the beginning and the end. Setup is often the most time consuming part, as many people choose to build their worm bins from existing plastic tubs or similar household items. This can be avoided if you're willing to purchase a worm bin, but it'll cost you. There are several commercially available worm bins that can be installed in just a few minutes, but many people find the homemade options so simple that they choose that route. The best method is the one you'll actually use, so pick whichever method you prefer.
Once built, add in a mixture of soil and shredded paper a few inches deep. Add water to create a moist substrate, but not enough to result in puddling. Add your worms but wait a day or so before adding any food scraps. Once you're ready to add in food scraps, do so only once per week. Collect scraps in a container and put them into your worm bin all at once, so as to minimize the stress on your worms. They enjoy their privacy.
Occasionally, you'll notice foods that your worms don't like. Remove those scraps and avoid feeding those items to your worms in the future, as their tastes aren't likely to change all that much. Eventually, you'll have enough compost to harvest. In the weeks approaching harvesting day, begin feeding on one side of the bin. This will drive worms in that direction, allowing you to harvest easily from the other end of the bin. This process can be time consuming, as it is important to avoid damaging your worms and to minimize the number of worms removed from the bins. If you ever find that your bin is overpopulated with worms, ask around for neighbors that may be in need of worms for their bins.
Plastic Bins or store bought Vermicomposting Bins
a container to hold food scraps between feedings
* A few good options:
For those of you that aren't ready to jump into the DIY compost game, please try out Purple Bucket's compost pickup service. There are no commitments and you can keep your compostable waste out of the landfill and contribute to revitalizing our local Bailey soil. More info here: www.PurpleBucketCompost.com
*We are recommending this item as a way of increasing composting within the community. With that said, we may receive a small commission from Amazon if you choose to purchase after clicking this link. We promise to only recommend products that support our mission of increasing local composting activities, reducing landfill contributions, and reducing our community's carbon footprint*
We aim to provide you with the info you need to jump start your composting adventure, whether on your own or by partnering with us at Purple Bucket. Please continue reading and learning on your own and let us know how we can help.
- the Purple Bucket Team