Monday, May 24, 2010

Worm Composting - BLACK GOLD!!!

Okay, it looks a little gross!  But earthworms are amazing little creatures.  They help to break down the organic matter in your compost bin and produce the most AMAZING fertilizer for your garden...worm castings!  (Yes, worm poop.)  But did you ever look to see what is in some store bought fertilizers?  Everything from sewage sludge (BAD) to bat guano (poop) (GOOD.)  

Here is how to make your own compost heap - which you can harvest into this fantastic fertilizer.  The cheapest method (while still keeping tidy) is to create a wooden box.  You don't really need a lid.  But, you should drill some holes in the bottom for air circulation.  The box should be at least 3' x 3'.  On the bottom, place wet, shredded newspaper.  The worms like that.  Then add some garden soil.  Next, add some green matter which will provide nitrogen.  Green matter can be anything from kitchen scraps (veggies, fruits) to grass clippings.  Do not put anything in there that has had non-organic herbicide, insecticide, or fertilizer on it.  Also, no cat or dog poop.  And, no meat products.  Then, cover with brown matter (dried brown leaves, small sticks, straw).  This provides carbon to the compost bin. You can also throw in crushed egg shells, paper towel tubes, fireplace ashes, paper towels, tissue, and dryer lint.   I like to cover the whole pile with brown paper bags, or palm tree "paper" that has fallen off my palms.  You could also use a small tarp.  This keeps the rodents away.  

You can buy red earth worms from your local nursery.  Sometimes they may need to order them, so call ahead.  Place the worms in the bin, but be sure not to put them right in the center of the pile, due to the heat of the compost.  They will find their way to the good stuff.  (PS - They don't like citrus rinds.)

Keep the bin slightly moist (like a wringed-out sponge.)  You will also get faster breakdown if you "turn" the pile every few days.  After some time, you will have rich, dark brown "humus"- the BLACK GOLD fertilizer - which you can sprinkle around the base of your plants before watering.  

There is really no way to screw up the compost bin - the organic matter will break down no matter what.  With a bit of extra care - it will break down faster.  The worms help this a lot.  Plus, the big bonus for me is that a compost bin with worms has virtually no flies and pests.  Bugs hate worm poop.  "So, bring it on, worms!  Poop away!"


  1. So glad you are giving worm composting a chance.
    I have been doing it for over 5 years and have taught classes to over 500 students so far. I have a few comments:
    1. There are many ways to "screw up" a worm bin, too much food, wrong bedding, too much or too little moisture, too hot, too cold, wrong worms.
    2. Any decomposing food will attract rodents, fruit flies, black soldier fly larvae and other misc. critters, worm bins are not exempt. Would be nice but I have found everything from snakes to roaches in my bins over the years.
    Worm Composting is fun, and it does speed up the composting process. I answer worm composting questions for free on my site and have lots of useful videos uploaded there too.
    BigTex Worms

  2. Hey, thanks, Liz! I will check out your site!