Using a Worm Bin to Create Compost in Your Kitchen



Vermicomposting, or using worms to break down waste materials, is a fast and effective way to turn kitchen scraps into worm castings, a highly valued form of compost. Food scraps traveling through a worm's body is just about the most incredible thing that can happen to soil.

After being eaten, digested and then pooped out by worms, soil will be 5 times richer in nitrogen, 10 times richer in potassium, and will have 7 times as much phosphate, 1.5 times more calcium, and 3 times as much magnesium. Worm casting compost also contains enzymes and beneficial microbes that speed up the soil food web and help plants grow more vigorously.

Functionally, the main activity in a worm's life is digesting. Darwin was lavish in his praise of them, citing that they accomplished their life's goal of digestion flawlessly, rarely suffering illnesses or obstacles to set them back. In fact, his final book was devoted to trying to understand their impressive ability of turning death and decay into soil that is powerfully alive.

An excellent review of Darwin's experiences with worms and their worldwide importance is the book The Earth Moved by Amy Stewart. You can harness the digestive power of worms in your own kitchen or back porch by setting up a worm bin. Worms will turn your food scraps and other waste organic material into a soil amendment that is made quicker and of higher quality than traditional compost, and with little to no smell.

Setting up a Worm Bin

The essential components of any worm bin is a set of stackable bins that have holes through the bottom to allow the worms to travel from the bottom bin upwards as the they travel to the fresh food scraps at the top. My husband and I have been using the Worm Factory produced by Nature's Footprint which retails for about $80. It's a great system and we love how simple it was to set up and use.

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