The Homesteading Files: composting and worms

I began keeping worms as an experiment in composting. For years I had been taking my kitchen waste out to a small fenced area near the garden. I would dump out the kitchen waste onto the existing compost pile and cover it with a shovel full of dirt and leaves. Inevitably the fire ants would move in, then the dogs would bust through the enclosure making a mess. Through all of this, I found that the compost generated wasn’t adequate.

Why would I want to make compost? Turning kitchen waste into plant food is an appealing prospect and taking care of plants is my passion. I read about raising worms, aka vermiculture, and decided to give it a go. I began with a couple of identical plastic bins that could be stacked, one inside the other. I drilled holes in the top bin and in it I mixed the worm bedding. Worm bedding conisists of damp, shredded paper, leaves and peat moss. I picked up a small container of red wiggler worms at the fishing supply department of the local hardware store and placed them in the bedding, thus began my experiment. It was fun watching the kitchen waste disappear, the worms wriggle through and turn kitchen waste into black soil.

After a while I decided I enjoyed this method of composting and my daughter got me a proper worm bin for Christmas. I have been ever so pleased since then and every other month I harvest a pound of plant food. 

I encourage you to try, it’s a fun hobby and can be done even if you live in a small apartment. The odor is minimal and can be contained by covering the waste with leaves and sheets of newspaper.

Here are some books available through our digital collection to assist you:

Worm composting by Joshua Nelson

Composting basics: All the skills and tools you need to get started by Connecticut Guilford 

Ecological gardening your safe path to a healthy, beautiful garden by Marjorie Harris

High-Yield Vegetable Gardening by Brad Halm

Catch the first installment of The Homesteading Files here.

The Homesteading Files: Vermiculture

Posted by JoanneT on April 28, 2020