Monday, March 7, 2011

Let worms do the dirty work!

One way to make home gardening easier is to make your own compost. Normally, a good compost will take 3-12 months before it is able to be collected and implemented in your planting. If you want a quicker way, though, simply add worms. This method is called Vermicomposting.

Worms can survive only in a small range of temperature (40-80 degrees), so an indoor environment is preferable. With little odor, this will allow city dwellers, apartment owners, and even dorm roomers to be able to create their own compost bin.

Now, HUG has a hand built 12ft by 2 1/2 ft wooden box with a metal bottom on campus here, but you don't need to go that route. A simple opaque rubbermaid tote works perfectly for your worms. We use red wigglers because they love the close environment a compost bin provides. Plus, red wigglers will eat half their weight in food every day! So, if you have two pounds of worms, you can feed them one pound of food every day!

But, you can't just feed them anything. We give them a healthy diet of:
1) fruit and veggies (rinds and peelings)
2) small pieces of meat
3) egg shells (crushed)
4) coffee grounds and tea bags

What we try to keep out of our bins are:
1) egg cartons
2) white floured items (white breads, cookies, etc.)
3) salty items (sauerkraut, pickles, etc.)

While our worms LOVE this stuff, these compostable items are not exactly what they eat. They eat the bacteria these items create when they decompose. And when the worms are done with it, they leave a fertilizer that is twice as effective than chemical fertilizers.

Here are several more websites that show you different ways to begin vermicomposting. Pick and choose your favorite method.

The planting season is almost on us. Make your garden grow healthier.

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