Kitchen Composting with Worm Bins
Why a worm bin?
Fun, easy, and earth friendly project that decreases food waste in
Creates a rich high quality compost for your garden -
Feed the worms organic food waste and the castings are ideal for
organic food crops.
Fun project for children/grandchildren and is easy to get started.
Internet has many websites that show how to make your own bin or
you can purchase multi-tiered bins from Dietz Mushroom Farm.
Details are available at their website: dietzfarm.com
Here is an easy economical bin that will work well for most folks.
Start with sturdy 2 plastic storage bins - 5 gallon size, not
clear, as worms avoid light. Using a jig saw, remove a section
from the lid
and bottom of one of them. Drill small holes around the
large ones. Sandwich hardware cloth between the cut lid and
nylon cable ties. Drill a 2" hole near the top of the cut
bin and pop in a 2" vent. When the top bin is full, another
can be added. If
more bins are stacked, cast a concrete base for the bottom
collector bin to prevent tipping.
Under ideal conditions, worms eat 1/2 their weight in food waste
day, so estimate the amount of food waste you will produce.
don't need to go out and purchase 3 # of worms if you have 3# of
waste every couple of days. Start small, and the worms will
quickly and adjust their population depending on available food.
Bedding holds moisture and provides a place to bury the kitchen
waste. Light and ﬂuffy consistency is best to allow air
Recommended Bedding Material:
Spent Mushroom Growing Kits (straw digested by oyster mushroom
mycelia may contain up to 30% protein by dry weight).
Newspapers - shredded or torn into narrow strips, Coconut ﬁber
(coir), Wood Chips, Leaves or any Combo of the above soaked in
water and wrung out, so damp; not dripping.
Place bedding in bin, add a handful of garden soil for "grit" and
add your worms. The worms will travel down into the bedding to
avoid the light. Don't put bedding in the bottom
Red worms Eisenia Fetida (eye-SEN-ee-uh FE-ti-dah)
Dietz Mushroom Farm in Sequim (360)
$7 for enough worms to get started (about 100) or $25 for 500
a starter bin (a recycled styrofoam shipping container)
Fun facts about red wiggler worms: Worms are hermaphrodites,
(her-ma-fra-dites) which means each worm is both male and female,
it takes two worms to reproduce. We won't go into the details of
sex lives of worms. Newly hatched worms reach breeding age in 60
days. Live for several years with estimates of up to 5 years. Have
pad that sticks out above its mouth to scoop up and push the
into its mouth. Worms have 5 pairs of hearts or pumping vessels
move the blood around the worm to absorb nutrients from the
tract. What remains after digestion passes out of the worm and is
Easier to list what not to feed:
Fats, Meat, Fish or Oils
Worms really like:
Any fruit and veggie scraps, peels, chopped into about 1" pieces.
Crushed egg shells, coffee grounds including the filter. Tea bags
(remove staple) dirty paper towels, paper napkins. Cut/rip up
everything up before placing in the bin. The smaller your chop it,
faster you will have end product. Keep an eye on acidity - too
coffee grounds and citrus peels and too much liquid. Start feeding
slowly and avoid overfeeding. Add more food scraps after the worms
processed most of the scraps in the bin. Bury the food scraps in
bedding and cover to avoid fruit f1ys. Add more bedding as needed
always have space to bury the food. I keep a container in my
refrigerator and add veggie and fruit scraps and feed the worms
Ideal temperatures range for worms is 60 to 80 degrees. Avoid
temps that will kill the worms. I keep my bin in the garage in
and outside in the shade in summer. Convenient location is best so
don't forget it. However, I have left my bin untended for 8 weeks.
Provided a large amount of bedding and the worms will eat this
there is not food available.
After 2 to 6 months (depends on number of worms, temps, and food
quantity) the bedding starts to look like dark rich humus, and the
fills up, so it is time to harvest.
One way is to spread an old tarp on the ground in the sun and
bin. Divide the contents into piles. The worms will travel down
the pile to avoid the light. Scrape off the top layer of compost
set it aside. Wait a few minutes and repeat the process. When
worms are remaining, put them back into your bin, add new bedding
Worm castings will not burn your plants and castings hold 2-3
their weight in water. The compost you harvest can be used to
your garden soil, top dress potted plants and vegetables.