Composting with Worms in Six Simple Steps

By Katie Musselwhite-Goldsmith

Roberto Sanchez

Roberto Sanchez, a kindergartner in Queens, holds up a type of composting worm known as red wrigglers. Red wrigglers decompose vegetable and fruit scraps, turning them into soil nutrients called compost.

Twelve kindergartners and 1st graders from P.S. 280 in Queens, New York learned how to keep some food waste out of landfills by worm composting. Worm composting is the process of feeding leftover fruit and vegetable scraps to worms in order to create vermicompost: a nutrient-rich fertilizer made of worm poop. You can compost with worms by following these six simple steps!

Step One: Find a Bin and Drill Air Holes

• Obtain a rubber bin with a tight fitting lid.

• Drill 20-30 holes with 1/8 inch drill bit in the lid of the bin.

Step Two: Prepare the Bin

• Fill the bin with moist strips of newspaper or corrugated cardboard.

• Add a small handful of dirt.

Step Three: Add Worms

• Use the internet or a local gardening store to find worms and to determine the appropriate amount of worms for the size of your bin. Eisenia foetida, also known as “Red Wigglers,” work best in indoor worm bins.

• Add worms to bin.

Step Four: Maintain Bin

• Keep the inside of the bin moist and feed the worms vegetable and fruit scraps about once or twice a week depending on the size of the container. The contents of the bin should feel as moist as a wrung out sponge.

• The bin should be kept between 55 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit.

• Add newspaper or cardboard about once a month.

Step Five: Harvest the Compost

• Once the bin seems full of worm castings (worm poop), push all of the compost material over to one side of the bin and start the process over on the other side. Stop feeding the old side.

• The worms will slowly migrate over to the new side.

A student as P.S. 280 shows one of his worms

A student as P.S. 280 shows one of his worms

Step Six: Use the Compost!

• Sprinkle compost on soil of house plants, street trees or garden.

What you Should and Shouldn’t feed your worms:

You should feed your worms raw fruit/vegetable scraps and cut up newspaper. Freeze skins of tropical fruits to kill any fruit fly larvae.

You shouldn’t feed your worms meat, dairy, fish, citrus, onions or broccoli.

Roberto Sanchez

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