I am new to composting kitchen scraps with worm bins. And I’m a convert! What a magic trick to behold. Worms take newspaper and cardboard (their nesting material) and food scraps and turn all of that into a lovely black loam that will benefit my soil.
I had learned how to compost when we lived in Boulder. Not only https://8hoxtonsquare.com/ were our food scraps dumped into that pile but so were the piles of cottonwood leaves. And then I’d collect the mash left over from beer brewing and add that too. What a healthy compost I had. And what tasty vegetables I grew in it. That was a bummer to leave behind when we moved to a much more rural area.
I didn’t compost for years after moving to a mesa outside Ridgway, Colorado, because I didn’t want to attract wildlife. I’m not talking squirrels or rats, I’m talking bear, coyote, jackrabbits, prairie dogs and ermine. I don’t know if wildlife eat vegetable food scraps but I didn’t want to take a chance with attracting animals in any case. I don’t even have bird feeders or birth baths around as a way of discouraging wildlife from hanging around!
We’ve seen bobcats, coyotes, and neighbors have seen bear and mountain lion, but by keeping food away from our house, we’ve not had troubles. So far, so good.
Last spring I was reminded of worm composting so researched it. Randy’s assistant, Becky, and I decided to get into worm bin composting. We tracked down worm suppliers, directions for making bins (I’ll share the process I’ve used in a later article), and started collecting the materials we’d need. No more food scraps into the trash for us! The worms get all vegetable matter, well almost all.
My worms live in the garage since that’s safe from weather and wildlife. Evidently they don’t like being cold, 40 degrees being at the bottom of their range. The boiler to heat the house is in the garage, so it always stays at least 40 degrees in there, so I figured that would be a fine place for them. This winter was pretty cold, with temperatures hovering around 0 degrees Fahrenheit or colder for weeks on end, that for a few weeks I brought the worms into the pantry. It was a bit inconvenient, but we dealt with it. But as soon as the temperatures warmed they went back to the garage; I like that better.
I don’t always put avocado skins, flowers, or egg shells in the bins. The directions for feeding my worms is to throw the food scraps into a blender and then pour the slurry in with the worms. Sorry, that’s more effort than I want to put into this. I think.
This morning may have changed my mind on that. I’m migrating my worms from the first bin to the second one since I’m ready to use the first batch of compost. The way this works is you make two bins but only use one at a time. The first bin nestles in the second. When the first bin’s compost looks ready you prep the second bin with nesting material, add food, and put the full first bin back in it — the worms start migrating down.
It’s a slow process. I think I may have “slow” worms — it’s taking forever! My niece says that if I leave the lid off the top bin they’ll migrate to the bottom to get away from the light, and then keep on moving to the next bin where I want them. First, I’m trying to get them to move by only putting food in the bin where I want them to go. But it’s taking so long I’m starting to get worried about them starving!
Today was worm feeding day. Randy helped me with the heavy lifting. He pulled the top bin off the stack so I could scrape the worms off the bottom before setting it down. I heard him exclaim when he looked into the second bin but figured he was enjoying the look of lots of worms, as I’d seen last week. When I gathered a handful of worms I went to put them in the second bin and I was amazed and the oozing, squirming mass of worms — more than I saw last week!
As an aside, my sister, the Environmental Knuckle Dragger, gets almost queasy when I talk about picking up the worms. I’ll tell you what I tell her, “Don’t worry, they don’t bite” or even threaten to. They just gum their way through the food scraps I give them, leaving me wonderful “worm casts” of loam for me to grow plants in.
I decided that compost in the second bin was too wet so the worms were getting out of the muck. So I ripped up more newspaper and layered it in the wet compost. That also served to mix air, food and worms in so more of that amazing composting magic could happen. Then more newspaper strips went on top of the mixed batch. Now I’m letting the compost dry out by leaving the first bin off. Consequently I have a whole newspaper lying at an angle across the top to protect the worms.