Indoor Worm Composting for Building Healthy Organic Gardens
I’m so excited! My worms for my composter came today! If you’re not a gardener, those words are probably going to get you just a few weird looks….maybe more than a few! If you ARE a gardener, though, and I kinda assume you are if you’re here, you may understand why I’m so happy.
Why Indoor Composting?
It’s kinda tough to compost outside when you’re digging through the snow to do it. That’s where the worms come in. The first time I tried worm composting, I had the composter in a corner of my laundry area, which is just off my kitchen. Gotta tell you, no one ever knew it was there. No mess, no smell, nothing!
Oh, and the worms don’t escape either so you won’t find creepy crawlies wandering around your floor. Of course, I wouldn’t find creepy crawlies anyway because my cats would eat them (ewwww!!!), but trust me, they don’t migrate.
Keep a Light on the Composter for the First Day
I guess I should mention that you do need to keep a light on the composter with the top off for the first 24 hours after you first put the worms in. This encourages them to burrow down into the bedding because they don’t like light.
They can be a bit restless when you first put them in and this discourages them from crawling away to greener pastures (or your guest bedroom, whichever they find first).
Worms are Simple to Care For
Once you set up the composter according to the directions and get your worms settled, it really is just as simple as feeding them a couple of times a week and making sure the bedding stays properly moist. That is it. Really!
Your Kids will Love it too!
Last time I did this, I thought it was so cool after a month or so when I looked in and realized there were baby worms crawling around in the bedding! Your kids will love it (and so will you, if you’re a gardening geek like me).
By the way, the only reason I stopped worm composting the first time through was that I was in college and barely had time to feed my pets and family, let alone worms too! It wasn’t that it was difficult or took too much time, it was simply that I would forget to do it!
I felt guilty that I was forgetting to feed the little buggers so I ended up letting them go in my garden that year. Now, however, I’m out of school and actually have a brain again, so…round 2!
The thing is, if you’re NOT so good with the creepy crawlers, you can still do this. You never HAVE to touch the worms if you don’t want to and honestly, unless you go looking, you probably won’t see that many when you feed them. They like the dark, so they stay down under the bedding most of the time.
Feeding your Worms
Feeding time just involves saving your food scraps and some paper goods. The composter instructions will tell you what to use. I always chop everything up in my mini-chopper or paper shredder because it makes it easier for the worms to process it.
Then I just dump some in a couple of different corners in the composter and that’s it. Easy peasy. They do the work and I get the compost.
Ordering the Correct Worms (and where to order)
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Just a note on the worms: When you order worms for your composter, you need to be sure to order the correct ones. DON’T order earthworms. They aren’t appropriate for an indoor composter.
You need to order red wigglers. They’re much smaller than earthworms. Like, wayyyyyyy smaller. Again, good news for the not-so-good with creepy crawlies among us.
This time, I ordered (I think) 2000 worms. Don’t worry about overcrowding, they just won’t reproduce as much if there are too many.
I order my worms from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm and highly recommend them, but with one caveat: They are located in PA. If you live in, for instance, CA, you probably want to order worms from somewhere closer to you. These are live critters, after all, and they won’t necessarily do so well being shipped all the way across the country.
That said, mine have been in really good shape both times I’ve ordered, and they come very quickly (within 2 days of ordering). Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm also has composters and other supplies so be sure to check them out.
I’ve included 2 Facebook videos I did below. The first shows you how I set up my composter. The second shows the worms and getting them into the composter.
One note: In the second video, you can see the newspaper on the top of the bedding. I should have shredded it with a paper shredder, not by hand. My hand-shredded paper was too coarse and the worms couldn’t seem to get under it to the bedding below. I ended up pulling some of it aside so they could burrow under.
It’s been two days now since I got my worms and they are happily ensconced in their new home. I put a couple of handfuls of the food I bought from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm in the composter when I first installed the worms. This morning, I gave them their first “fresh” meal, radish greens, a couple of zucchini ends, and some tea and coffee grounds.
A couple of months in, I made a boo-boo and gave the worms something they didn’t like and didn’t eat. It was a salad I had gotten from the grocery store with various veggies, raisins, seeds, and some type of dressing on it. I think the dressing is what turned them off. Unfortunately, it attracted fruit flies. THOUSANDS of fruit flies!
If this should happen to you, don’t despair and don’t get rid of your composter.
You do want to scoop out whatever it is that the worms aren’t eating (being sure not to scoop any worms out with it), then make some fruit fly traps.
Making Simple Fruit Fly Traps
To make a fruit fly trap, simply take a one or two liter soda bottle (I used a seltzer bottle), and fill it with about 2 inches of apple cider vinegar. Fruit flies LOVE vinegar. The tall, skinny bottle will trap them when they enter to drink the vinegar and they won’t be able to get out. Some authorities say to add dish soap to the vinegar, but I didn’t find it necessary.
If you have a lot of flies (and you most likely will if you have any), you may have to empty your trap and put fresh vinegar in after a week or so. I did that, and within 2 weeks, the fruit flies were gone.
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Posts Related to Worm Composting
If you’ve been inspired to start your own worm composter, please drop me some comment love and let me know. Feel free to ask questions if I missed something. I’ve included a couple of pinnable images at the end of this post and would love it if you could pin them to your relevant Pinterest boards.
As always, smile and have a crazy organic day!