The most common way to make compost is to use a compost pile. And compost piles work great when you have a large amount of yard or garden waste to build a pile with.
But a compost pile isn't efficient when your adding small amounts of kitchen waste to it every day.
Luckily there is several ways to compost, with only one being well suited to constantly having more vegetable and fruit waste added. The composting method that I am talking about, and also the subject of this article, is vermicomposting.
Vermicomposting is simply using one of two species of earthworms to break down organic matter. These are not the typical garden earthworms, they're two different species, Eisenia fetida and Lumbricus rubellus, commonly known as redworms, red wigglers or any number of other names depending on who you're talking to.
Now let's talk about how to get started.
First you're going to need a bin. A worm bin can be purchased commercially or built using plywood. Regardless of which type you use, it should be approximately sized to the amount of food waste your household produces.
A bin that is 2' by 2' (four feet of surface area) started with one pound of worms will handle about a ½ pound of food waste per day. The size of your worm bin can be increased or more worm bins can be used if your household produces more food waste.
The worm bin does not need to be very deep. Redworms live and eat in the top 6-8 inches of soil.
Second find a location for your worm bin.
Worms need a temperature that will stay between 55 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, outside of this range will slow compost production and could be bad for the worms.
Worms also don't like vibration and may try to escape if there's too much. Don't put the bin by washing machines, clothes dryers or dish washers.
The final consideration when placing a worm bin is convenience. You want it to be someplace where adding food waste will be easy and you will frequently check conditions in the bin to ensure the worms are healthy. Every house is different, common spots are kitchen cabinets and basements.
Third you need to get some bedding materials. Newspaper and cardboard are most commonly used and are readily available, don't use the glossy paper mostly used for ads in newspapers or the shipping labels on cardboard.
Newspaper should be torn into long strips of approximately an inch wide. Cardboard should be cut into strips of about 2”-3” long and 1” wide. Your going to need enough bedding to fill the worm bin half way.
Fourth moisten the bedding, worms can't live in a dry environment.
Place the bedding material into a clean bucket and start pouring water in. Pour water onto the bedding until it is moist enough that when you squeeze a handful a couple drops of water will come out.
Once your bedding is wet enough put it into the worm bin, fluffing it up a bit. The bedding should be loose enough that the worms can easily wriggle their way through it.
Add a handful or two of garden soil on top of the bedding. This will provide grit for the worms and also beneficial microorganisms.
One final note: If you don't want to have ink stained fingernails, wear gloves.
Fifth you can add the worms. For a 2' by 2' bin you're going to start out with a pound of worms, which can be purchased on the internet or you could check with a local garden center.
Once the worms have been added to the bin let them settle in for a couple days.
Now you can start to add vegetable and fruit food waste to the bin, don't add meat, dairy or oily food waste.
In time you're going to have a bin full of worm castings which can be used as compost in the garden or on your houseplants.
If you would like to learn about growing your own vegetables and putting some of the compost from your worm bin to use take a look here: SecretsOfOrganicGardening.info