I hate worms.
Or so I thought. 🙂
Although, I don’t have the courage to allow any one of them to remain on my skin for more than five seconds, I believe composting worms are our friends, never fiends.
It’s simply using worms to turn organic waste into rich, potent fertiliser for plants. In fact, it has been around long before man discovered it. Nature is as such, it happens without requiring our help. Google “vermicomposting” or “worm composting”, you’ll know what I mean.
So how is it different from the composting method (i.e. The “lazy” Experiment) that Joe and I have been at for 2 years now? Well ours does not use composting worms. We just allow organic wastes to gradually break down all by themselves – again, another example of nature!
However, with these gentle, quiet and harmless creatures, our composting would take much less time, and the results better.
Because composting worms have the awesome ability to churn organic waste into mineral and nutrient-rich fertiliser with their guts – no pun intended. It’s a unique organ in the composting worm’s body that most other creatures do not possess in its exact form.
Moreover, composting worms are known to have pretty good appetites. It is said that they can eat up to their weight per day. (We can’t even imagine ourselves doing that, can we?) As a result, composting worms not only help to break down food waste within a shorter time, their unique internal bodily functions also produce higher-grade compost that are known to have proven results.
It’s no wonder why vermicompost costs significantly more than normal compost!
After much learning from several informative resources online (we’ve compiled some of our learnings here and here), we feel somewhat ready (and eager) to try out vermicomposting on our own. It’s one thing to witness worms turn waste into fertiliser, and another to simply purchase vermicompost off the shelves.
My dad’s even more excited than we are – did we mention that he’s a nature lover? He can talk about plants and animals at great lengths. Taking nature walks with him is like going to Narnia and almost never coming back. Lol 🙂
Here’s what my dad has done so far in preparing for the vermicomposting experience:
Scout out the perfect location for vermicomposting. Notice that we decided to put the worm bin in the kitchen because it's nearest to food preparation. This makes it easy for us to dispose unwanted kitchen scraps into the worm bin directly.
Our perfect spot would be the empty kitchen shelves on the left. This is because there is ample space there, and being near the window means better ventilation (oxygen) and cooler surrounding temperature. We also made sure that direct sunlight do not reach that area. If not, the worms will die a slow painful death, or crawl away to cooler pastures.
A closer look at the ideal spot. See the empty space on the shelf where we can slot in a worm bin?
Check out our worm bin which fits snugly into the empty slot. We chose a black box ($9) as composting worms prefer darker environments (they hate light actually). The box also has to be waterproof and durable. In this case, the box measures 57x39x28cm. Its surface area is ideal for approximately 200g of composting worms.
An overall view of our worm bin in the kitchen corner. We also decided not to drill any holes into the bottom of the box because we didn't want to manage straying worms that could potentially crawl or fall out from the bottom. Others may differ and choose to drill holes at the bottom to prevent excess water from drowning the worms. But this also requires a tray to be placed below the bin to catch excess liquids (potential mozzie risk!) We decided to control the amount of moisture that goes into the bin instead.
We also bought a lid ($3) so that we would have the option of sealing the bin whenever we wanted to. We intentionally chose a white (instead of black) translucent lid, so that the top would remain bright, thereby discouraging worms from crawling out. Moreover, the lid allows similar boxes to be stacked on top of one another. Do note that stacking in this case requires holes to be drilled at the sides of the bin to improve aeration for the worms.
Alas, preparing food and bedding for the worms. Before worms can live in your bin, they require bedding (usually moistened shredded newspapers and cardboard) and food (i.e. raw kitchen scraps). Note that composting worms only feed on ROTTING parts of organic material, so we prepared the bin at least a week before the worms arrive. This allows the material in the bin to break down (rot) partially so that worms can start working on them immediately.
Unwanted raw kitchen scraps cut into smaller pieces. This increases the surface area for the worms to feed on.
Moistened shredded cardboard and leafy vegetable scraps
We've got some used tea leaves as well! Notice that they have already started to break down into a mushy state. Good and moist for the worms!
Mixing browns (i.e. cardboard) and greens (i.e. vegetable scraps) together. This ensures that the contents are not too dry or wet. It works the same way for normal composting without worms. A compost bin with a good mix of greens and browns enable composting to take place more efficiently. A bin with too much browns will take too long to break down, while too much greens will cause the compost bin to be anaerobic and smelly.
Can you identify the food scraps in there?
They may look colourful now, but everything will eventually turn into fine brown compost with the help of our composting buddies 😉
A final overall view of the worm bin's contents. We sure hope the worms will be happy with this when they arrive a week later!
This spray bottle ($1.80) would be really handy as we would need to moisten the bin's contents every now and then. For example, the top may become dry due to evaporation when the bin is left open most of the time. Be careful not to spray too much, as worms prefer moist (not wet) conditions! They will flee when they sense that something is wrong.
Also, it would be ideal to get a spray bottle with an adjustable nozzle, so you will have the option of making misty or direct sprays. Remember to use aged water, as chlorinated water is harmful to your worms!
Here’s more information on the items listed above:
Plastic worm bin $9
Lid for the worm bin $3
Spray bottle $1.80
Well that’s all for now! We look forward to updating you again once the worms arrive. Can’t wait! 😀