Worms are Mother Nature’s master recyclers. They can compost organic material at exorbitant rates—some earthworms will eat half their body weight in food each day. As worms digest their meal, they leave a trail of worm casts or worm poop, which supplies plants with valuable nutrients including nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium.
Add a worm bin to your garden
Aside from adding organic waste directly into your garden, a specially designed worm bin or a plastic storage bin can be used to make your very own compost facility. Follow these simple steps to make your kitchen waste turn into black gold for your garden.
1. Choose a suitable location for your worm bin that is sheltered from direct sunlight and heavy rain. You can even keep your bin indoors in the basement or garage.
2. Fill your worm bin with a variety of bedding (dry leaves, grass clippings, dead plants, brown paper bags or straw) and a few handfuls of soil and sand. If you’re making your own bin, the container should be relatively shallow and wide with air holes drilled into the bottom to allow air and water to flow in and out of the container.
3. Add water to the bedding so it resembles a wrung-out sponge.
4. Lift and fluff the bedding to create air pockets.
5. Add the worms. Red wrigglers are the best worms to add to your bin. You can purchase them online or at garden centres or you may be able to find them in an established compost bin or manure pile.
6. Put food scraps into the bin, making sure to bury them at different depths in the bedding. Make sure you keep feeding your worms and don’t let the bin dry out.
7. Within a few months, you’ll be able to harvest your first batch of black gold to be used to fertilize your garden. Dump the contents of the bin into a wheelbarrow or on a tarp, but make sure you do so in a shady spot so you don’t dry out your worms. Collect the worms and the tiny, lemon-shaped baby worm cocoons and place them into a container—this is a great activity for kids.
8. Put some of the finished compost back into the bin with fresh bedding and worms to continue production at your worm compost facility.
Anja Sonnenberg is a horticulturist who writes about the fun she has in her garden on her blog, A Gardener’s Playground.