Vermicomposting introduction

Last year I was at the Evanston Green Living Festival, volunteering at the I-GO booth. Wandering around afterwards, I stopped at the Urban Worm Girl booth. I’m acquainted with conventional composting, but worm composting? That was something I hadn’t heard of before.

I never seriously considered composting because it seemed difficult to manage. To keep it from smelling, you have to keep aerating it by turning and tossing it. That seemed to be a lot of bother, and the idea of keeping a pile of trash around just seemed … dirty, to me.

But worm composting was marketed as something perfect for an urban apartment with no room (at that point I was living in a studio with a 100 sq ft living/bedroom). Kept in an enclosed bin, the worms and the trash they were decomposing would be kept out of sight and out of reach of pests. Low maintenance and low footprint, the worms would turn your kitchen scraps into ‘black gold’ in no time at all.

I was sold. I wanted to do it. But I didn’t want to live with creepy-crawlies, like, 10 feet away from my bed. What if I had to touch the worms at some point? Gross. Better to make Hide do it, but I wasn’t living with Hide at the time.

When I moved in with Hide, building a worm bin was immediately put on the ‘to do’ list. But we dawdled and dawdled and didn’t get around to it until this summer. Finally, we started making real progress towards a vermicomposting household.

I borrowed the bestseller in the vermicomposting world, Worms Eat My Garbage by Mary Appelhof. I can see why it’s so popular: it’s super-accessible, with every single technical detail explained so that a child could understand it. It’s like a technical manual that’s not dry, boring and impossible to understand. It takes you through the entire vermicomposting process while also providing some deeper information about worm anatomy, worm life cycle, and the ecology of the worm bin. Not stuff you have to know, to run a worm bin, but it helps you appreciate what’s going on.

The basic idea of worm composting is that the worms eat the things that eat your kitchen scraps. Then they poop out what are known as ‘worm castings’, which is apparently higher quality than regular compost. I’m planning to use the compost on top of our potted plants, as a soil amendment.

Setting up a worm bin isn’t actually that hard, it’s just a lot of research to decide how you want to do things. Then more research to figure out if your worm bin is doing okay. In the next couple of weeks, I’ll go over in detail how we started our worm bin. Next: Building a worm bin.

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