Category Archives: Composting

Start Worm Composting?

Are you excited about the idea to start worm composting?  Since I have been worm composting for over 10 years I would like to talk about the plusses and minuses of worm composting.  Vermicomposting is another term for worm composting.

Considerations to Start Worm Composting

Reasons to start worm composting:

  1. Great, fun, learning experience for the kids
  2. Way to compost food scraps
  3. Creating high quality compost for your garden or potted plants
  4. Keeping kitchen scraps out of the landfill
  5. Meditative experience for the adult
  6. Teaching kids to care about our earth and environment
  7. Demonstrating responsibility

Kids, Composting and Keeping Food Out of the Landfill

Worms gross out and scare some children.  And some children are excited to play with them.  If you give the scared and grossed out children rubber gloves to wear that seems to take care of the problem.  In my classroom experience and with my grandchildren the gloves gave them a new freedom to touch the worms.  Then these kids were just as involved and excited as the others.

Worms do a great job composting food scraps.  It is an amazing experience to watch the process!  You see the food waste just disappear and turn into dark compost that will be an amazing amendment to your garden or potted soil.

We waste so much food that ends up in the landfill.  By worm composting we can return this food to the earth or to our potted plants providing great nutrients that the worms incorporated into the compost.

Vermicomposting Can be a Meditative Experience

I say that this can be a meditative experience for adults.  Worm composting means maintenance. It means checking out the bin every week to see how things are going.  Is the bin too dry, too wet and are the worms consuming the scraps in a timely manner?  This can be viewed as meditative or as a pain in the neck.  Maintaining the worm bin could be considered as one of the minuses of the experience.  It all depends on how you think about it.  Personally I enjoy looking into the bin to see what’s happening and to make adjustments if necessary.

The worm composting experience inherently teaches children about our earth, its inhabitants and how to be responsible.  Feeding and taking care of the worms teaches responsibility.

Minuses of Worm Composting

The minus to worm composting is taking care of the worms.  This would be similar to any pet except that worms don’t ever need to go to the vet.  And you don’t have to buy food for them.  The food comes right out of your kitchen.  Worm composting is a time commitment.  Just because you start worm composting, doesn’t mean that you have to do it forever.  The process takes 3-4 months.  You can experience it and then give your worms away or put them into a compost pile.

Watch this video of my worms eating cucumber peels!

Modified Hugelkultur Composting Method

We are at the end of the first season using my modified Hugelkultur composting method.  This composting method could be also called the incredible easy composting method!!  You can check out my post about how wonderful the squash was and how well it grew!  I started cleaning up the old squash plants and putting away the trellises. I noticed a lot of debris on the ground.  There were pieces of old branches and flower stems.

Modified Hugelkultur Composting Method Needed Some Work

I realized that the compost, leaves, organic matter and dirt that I had put on the hugelkultur had composted some more and settled.  This only makes sense to me as I think about my experience with composting.  The compost piles in my wire bins are always shrinking.  The more they compost the smaller they get.  I had a full trash can of compost from my compost tumbler at the beginning of the summer.  Red wiggler composting worms were working at it the whole summer. Now less than half the trash can is full of compost.  Everything settled and composted in my hugelkultur row exposing some of the sticks and branches that were buried in it.

It was a simple fix.  I added more dirt, leaves and compost to cover the exposed garden debris.  No sticks or branches this time because I want it all to compost and settle.  I am hoping by next spring, this row will be more composted so that I can plant other things beside squash in it.  It was disturbing to see the scattered plant stems and branches that had previously been covered up.  As you can see from this picture that it was easy to fix the problem.  These composting rows will probably need more compost and soil periodically.  And that is easy to do!

Some Exceptions on What to Grow

The first year you grow plants with this composting method you should limit what you plant.  You can experiment but don’t be surprised if some plants don’t do so well.  The reason is that there is not so much soil in the row.  There are a lot of stalks, leaves, some branches and garden debris that needs to break down into compost.

I find that squash will grow anywhere. And by this, I mean the squash that grows into a vine; not necessarily the bush squashes.  When you put squash seeds in your regular kitchen compost they sprout anywhere.  I would only plant vining squash in a row like this.  I use Tahitian Melon Squash.  The thing to remember is to keep it watered very well until it gets established.  My theory is that the roots make their way down to the soil that is underneath the row.  I think they get sustenance along the way from the soil and compost that had been layered into the composting row.  By the second year the composting row should work fine for most plants.

Here is a discussion on Tahitian Melon Squash and more info on the Hugelkultur composting method.