Learning to compost, part 2: worms

I started my project by reading up on various composting methods. In particular, I wanted to first decide between using a traditional compost pile or bin or using a vermicomposting system. Traditional composting utilizes bacteria and various microrganism as decomposers, whereas vermicomposting is strictly worm-based. In the end, I decided worms would be the superior choice for several reasons.

First, worms do the work faster. 1 pound of worms can process 1/2 pound of food waste per day! Under appropriate conditions, a worm population will naturally multiple, so ideally you can maintain a large enough population to avoid any accumulation of food waste. Traditional composting takes more time, and the speed is affected by the temperature. With winter coming up, I’m worried about accumulating a lot of unfinished compost by the time our lease is up this summer.

Secondly, worms are less work. They can be kept indoors and the only maintenance they require is regular feeding, addition of bedding material, and occasional harvesting of the compost. In contrast, traditional compost bins need to kept outdoors, and need to be regularly turned or aerated, which can be a little more labor-intensive.

Thirdly, we already have some worms to get started with! About a year and half ago, a dear friend gifted us a small bucket of composting worms from his personal system:

Unfortunately, we didn’t know a whole lot about how to take care of them at the time. We soon realized that our small bucket of worms was not able to handle the bulk of our food waste. We cook a lot and so we generate a fair amount of vegetable scraps. Since we couldn’t feed all our scraps to the worms, I eventually became accustomed to throwing everything in the trash, and the worms became mostly forgotten under our sink. Luckily, Saumya remembered to feed them every once in a while. Miraculously, after all this time of relatively neglect, the worms are still alive and well. These are truly resilient creatures.

Now that I’m well read on everything worms, I am determined to grow our little population to a size capable of eating the bulk of our food scraps. Next step: constructing a proper habitat.

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