|How to turn organic waste||into nutrient-rich compost|
Worms are awesome.
Composting with worms or vermicomposting as it’s more formally referred to, is an efficient and convenient method of converting your organic kitchen scraps and garden waste into nutrient-rich compost.
Given the right conditions, worms will be voracious feeders and enthusiastic breeders and will relatively quickly convert a large volume of organic waste into a dense and nutrient-rich organic ‘fertilizer’ that can be readily absorbed by plants.
The worms uniformly grind and mix the food they inject and their ‘castings’ (output) is water soluble, therefore easily absorbed by plants’ roots.
If that’s not enough of a reason to think worms are awesome, their digestive systems create an environment that enables certain species of microbes to thrive so the compost produced will also teaming with microbial life that is essential for a healthy and naturally sustainable garden.
Worms are a bit like Goldilocks; they like their compost to be just right.
- Worms will feed most voraciously when the temperature of the compost is in the range 10oC – 29o Temperatures above 30oC will harm them so keep the compost bin out of direct sunlight and protected from rain and cold weather in the winter.
- Worms do not like their compost to be too wet nor too dry.
The compost can become too wet if there is too much kitchen waste (‘green’ waste) in the bin. Alternately, if there is too much woody garden waste in the bin, the compost will be too dry. To create an environment that is just right for your worms, you will need to balance the mix of the waste types in your bin. This will be a process of trial and error but you will know when the worms are happy as you will suddenly see a lot more of them making their way through your compost.
- Mix (aerate) the compost regularly.
Whilst worms naturally aerate the compost as they create tunnels in their movement through it, you will still need to mix the compost, maybe 2-3 times per week. The easiest way to do this is to leave a hand trowel next to the compost bin and whenever you empty a fresh load of organic waste into the bin, use the trowel to dig into the compost, moving what’s at the bottom to the top and allowing the new waste to fall further into the bin and be mixed with the more mature compost.
- Your worms will happily consume the following types of organic waste:
- All fruits and vegetables (including citrus in limited quantities)
- Coffee grounds and filters
- Grains such as bread, cracker and cereal (including mouldy and stale)
- Eggshells (rinsed off and crushed)
- Leaves and grass clippings (not sprayed with pesticides)
- Newspapers (most inks used in newspapers are not toxic)
- Paper towelling (which has not been used with cleaners or chemicals)
- Please do not put meat or dairy products into the compost as this will attract vermin and flies and produce rather unpleasant smells.