Throwing kitchen waste into a compost heap is an excellent way to have a ready supply of compost on hand for vegetable and flower gardens. The only problem is decomposition has a distinctive smell many people do not want in the house.
A simple way to compost kitchen waste is to start a worm bin. Red wiggler earth worms can live quiet comfortable in a plastic or wooden box, eating kitchen waste and turning it into rich fertile vermicompost for use in the garden.
There are many advantages to vermicomposting. It produces fewer odors and attracts fewer pests than putting food wastes in the garbage. It saves the water and electricity that a sink garbage disposal unit would use. It requires little space or labor. It produces high quality fertile compost – worm castings are a natural fertilizer. It keeps food wastes out of the landfill. Food waste in the landfill decomposes without oxygen, creating methane gas, which is a major contributor to global warming.
All you need to vermicompost are a worm bin, bedding, water, worms and food scraps. You can buy a ready-made worm bin, or you can us a simple plastic bin or wooden box. It will need to have a cover for darkness, and holes for air circulation. I use a large Rubbermaid tote box that I have drilled several holes alone the stop for ventilation.
The worms need to burrow in bedding to bury the garbage. Shredded paper, cardboard or leaves will work. This is a great way to recycle your junk mail and catalogs. Run this paper waste through a paper shredder and add to the bottom of your box. This bedding must be kept moist, so regular mistings of water are necessary.
Use only red worms, or “wigglers”, which are the composting worms. Feed your worms non-meat kitchen waste, such as veggie and fruits peelings and scrapes, tea bags, coffee grounds, egg shells and paper products like coffee filters, napkins and paper towels.
Every few months, remove the rapidly multiplying worms from the box and use the rich vermicompost to fertilize houseplants and garden vegetables. After cleaning the box thoroughly, add shredded paper products to the bottom and add the worms back to start the process over.
Be warned, the worms reproduce rapidly because all they do is eat and multiple. You will probably have too many worms to add back to one box, so be prepared to start new worm boxes, or you can add a few worms to several areas of your garden. They will burrow to soft garden soil and begin their cycle of eating and reproducing as if they had never been moved.
Worm farms would be a wonderful idea for school children that are interested in gardening projects. Worm boxes could be set up at school and then the children could feed the worms with all the left over school meals. This would teach a valuable lesson in the art of recycling and improving the Earth.
So the next time you don’t eat all your house salad at lunch, bring it home in a doggy bag. Can’t eat all that bread left in the complimentary breadbasket? Bring it home to the worms. Tired of dumping used coffee filters and coffee grounds in the trash? Feed it to the worms. They are heard working and they work for food, so the more food and kitchen waste you have, the happier your worms will be. You will be rewarded by a decrease in kitchen waste and an increase in produce from the garden.