The Joys of Worm Composting
If you are a keen gardener, you will know the benefits of good compost. It helps plants of all kinds thrive and is a great way of enriching your soil beds. Gardening has become very popular in recent years, and for several reasons. Having a beautiful garden means you can enjoy it to the full, and many people are discovering the therapeutic effects of growing their own vegetables.
Compost can be purchased ready to use at a garden center or perhaps a hardware store, and many people have their own compost heap at home. This is a great way of using scraps that would usually just be thrown away. There is a further type of composting that may also be of interest, and that’s worm composting. What is worm composting, and why is it a good idea?
What is Worm Composting?
Worms are the gardener’s friend. They may not be the most attractive of creatures, but what they do beneath the ground helps keep the soil fresh and healthy and helps plants grow. As worms are ubiquitous, they are always helping us in the garden, but how can we use them in a composter?
First things first, a worm composter is an excellent idea as it will provide you with very rich, very fertile compost. It should not, however, be considered a replacement for your usual compost, which you will still need. There are some things you should not compost – we’ll talk about that in a moment – but before we go on read this about how worm composting can help you and your garden, as it is an excellent introduction.
Worm composting is about combining worms, and their natural ability to burrow and east what is underground, and waste from the kitchen or garden, in a dedicated device called a worm composter. You can buy a worm composter ready to use – and you can buy the worms too – or you can build one; there are many YouTube videos and gardening websites with great examples of home-built composters.
Why do you need a worm composter, and how does it work? Let’s have a look in more detail.
Starting a Wormery
Now let’s get to the good stuff: the worms you use in a composter are not the same as those in the garden. The latter are earthworms and live underground, feeding off the soil.
Composting worms are a different species – in fact, there are quite a few that are used – that live on decaying organic matter. As the worms eat the decaying matter, they convert it into a liquid – this is your very rich fertilizer.
How do you start a wormery? The best way is to buy one that is ready-made. Some are supplied with the relevant worms, others you buy the worms separately – the choice is yours. A worm composter will usually be a plastic or wood construction with a top part where the worms and the stuff to be composted goes, and a lower section where the liquid gathers. You need to find a spot where the worms will be warm and moist all year round for successful composting.
The basic idea is this: find a spot in a shed or a sheltered part of the garden and place your wormery there, making sure it’s secure and safe. You then add some fresh compost and your worms and a thin layer of kitchen food waste and feed your worms regularly! They will do the rest. So, what can you give your new pet worms to eat?
What Can Go in a Worm Composter?
The following are items that can go into your worm composter:
• Any raw vegetables bar those of the onion family
• Any cooked vegetables
• All fruit, but avoid the peel from citrus fruits
• Teabags, eggshells, coffee grounds and bread in small amounts
• Newspaper and shredded office paper, but not glossy paper
• Small amounts of waste from the garden including leaves and soft greens
Once you add some of that, your worms will be having a feast. Don’t overfeed them as they need to be able to get through what they have, and you’ll soon have a great supply of extremely potent fertilizer for the garden, in easy to use liquid form.
Don’t put dairy products or grease into the composter, and avoid bones and animal remains as you will end up with an infestation of flies! Follow the guidelines above and keep the composter moist but not over-watered, and you’ll have great compost and a colony of happy worms.
Gardening is always a good pastime to get involved with, and with added variety such as a worm composter, you have another talking point! Enjoy it, don’t overdo it, and let the worms do their job, and you’ll grow plants like never before.