Indoor Worm Composting

Red Wiggler Worms

Indoor worm composting is something that can be done anywhere, even in your apartment. You do not even have to touch the worms if you don’t want to.

Worm composting is a great way to get rid of your kitchen scraps without sending them to a landfill. You’ll also get the benefit of fertile worm castings to use in gardens, or even in potted plants indoors.

If done properly, indoor worm composting won’t have any unpleasant oder, and the worms are quiet, so your house guests won’t know they are there unless you tell them.

Indoor worm composting can also be a great project for the school classroom. Students can learn about worms, composting, caring for the earth, and recycling, all in a fun, hands-on way.

Worms for indoor composting can be purchased from worm breeders. Often they can be bought online and shipped by mail. You will want to get ‘Red Wigglers’ or ‘Red Worms’. The worms you dig up outside will not thrive in captivity.

To begin, you’ll need a proper worm bin. Often, the ideal container is a 5-10 gallon plastic storage bin (with brand names such as Rubbermaid, Sterilite, etc) that is approximately 24″x18″8″. Red worms like to live in the top 6″ of soil, so aim for a container that is broad, not deep. Sometimes aquariums or wooden boxes can be used, but a storage container is usually the cheapest, and easiest to find option. Don’t choose a clear bin, because the worms like to live in darkness.

Rinse the container out very well to get rid of any residues that could be harmful to the worms. You’ll also need to cover it with some kind of loose fitting lid. The lid that came with the container will probably not work, because it will restrict air-flow too much, though drilling holes in it will help.

Fill the box with newspaper or cardboard strips, then moisten them with water. Ideally, leave the box empty for a few days before adding the worms to make sure the moisture is consistent. Worms need a moist, dark environment, good airflow, but not a draft, and proper food to thrive. Since they have no access to soil, you are going to be responsible for providing everything.

Once your box is set up, decide where in the home or classroom you want to place it. Since worms like to be warm, but not hot, you’ll need to keep your box out of direct sunlight, and away from any intense heat (i.e. space heaters).

Worms are best at composting raw fruits and vegetables, so it’s advised that beginners to worm composting only offer their worms these foods. Go easy on citrus because this will make the worm’s habitat acidic and can attract fruit flies. You also might want to avoid onions or broccoli because these tend to give off a strong smell.

After 3-5 months, your bin will be mostly filled with compost and you will need to “harvest” it. This means removing the compost and adding new bedding. There are two methods for doing this. Since red wigglers don’t make tunnels like native nightcrawlers, you can simply dump the bin out onto a sheet of plastic and scoop it into several small piles. If possible, do this in an area with plenty of bright light. Since worms don’t like bright light, they will burrow to the bottom of the piles.

Layer by layer, remove the compost from the top of the piles and put it into a pail, or other similar container. If you are planning to use this compost indoors, you will probably want to sift out any uncomposted food particles, or leftover bedding, and you’ll want to make sure there are no worms left in the compost. If the compost is going outdoors, you likely won’t need to do this, as nature will finish the process.

When you end up with a pail of compost and several piles of worms, return the worms to a bin of clean bedding and start the process all over. If you’re composting in a classroom setting, or just interested yourself, you will probably want to weigh all the worms and see if they’ve grown before you put them back in the bin.

If you don’t want to touch the worms, you can use the hands-off method of harvesting. Don’t feed the worms any new material for about two weeks. Next, scoop out any large pieces of uncomposted feed or bedding, and push the entire contents of the bin to one side. Fill the now empty section with fresh bedding. Only feed on the clean side for the next 2-3 weeks. The worms will move to the clean side on their own, and you’ll be free to scoop out the old compost.

Most of all, have fun and enjoy your little indoor recyclers.

photo credit: Earthworms! via photopin (license)

The Basics Of Building Your Own Greenhouse

Small home made greenhouse
Small home made greenhouse built from PVC pipe and plastic

It may be easier than you think to build a greenhouse. There are many different designs and sizes that you can build. A greenhouse provides the needed sunlight and humidity for plants. And it will give you comfort whenever you visit your plants, vegetables, flowers, or orchids. It will be a place where you can sit, and relax.

Building a small greenhouse may be more economical. If there is enough space for a larger greenhouse however, you may want to consider it if you think you may want to grow more plants and vegetables. Continue reading The Basics Of Building Your Own Greenhouse