It was an exciting day at our house over the weekend: the day we harvest the compost from the worm bin! Yeah, I know. Don’t cheer all at once. It makes me pretty excited, though
Kris and I have kept our vermiculture composter for about 3 years (I talked a little about it here in this post) we use the commercially available Can-O-Worms bin (there are several others on the market, all seemingly adequate) and it is a lot of fun to keep. It’s a very easy set-up with the tiered system… easy to assemble, and once you get it, all you need are the worms. We bought the two most common composting worms available in North America – “Red Wigglers” and “European Nightcrawlers”.
Once all that is in place, it’s easy to start up… you simply put your natural scraps into the bin for the worms to digest… and natural scraps can be a huge list of things. My worms get a steady diet of veggie and fruit scraps from my cooking and baking, as well as leftovers from the juicer, used teabags and coffee grounds. I layer these scraps directly on the top bin and then cover it with a damp set of newspaper. I add to the mix, just continuing to layer… and as time goes by, the worms do the work. Once the bin is full of my scraps, I add a new plastic layer and start the process again. The worms migrate up, leaving the scraps below – other worms stay down in the lower bin working on the older items, and the natural decomposition also takes over. The best part about it? It doesn’t smell a bit. I keep my bin inside during the winter months (too cold in Maryland to be outside, and I don’t have a garage) and I have never had any problems with it being inside. In fact, it makes it easier for me to toss out the scraps when the bin is right there in my kitchen.
And as we begin to prepare the garden, you can open up the lowest bin and mix this nutrient rich compost directly into your top soil – instantly making it better and more viable for planting.
Here’s how it breaks down – the photo on the left shows my top-most bin: the one that is full of the newest kitchen scraps… grape stems, avocado skins, old lettuce, apple cores, beet peels… and the one on the right shows the rich dark soil in the bottom bin, ready to mix in with the top soil in the garden.
The timing was perfect. On the very same day, Saturday, the seeds we ordered from Seed Savers Exchange arrived (we have ordered from them for a few years – and they are amazing! it’s an heirloom cooperative and they have thousands of varieties.)
It’s still a little early for the big vegetables, but we are in prime time ( a little late, actually) for lettuce and green varieties. Kris already planted some spinach and some beets, and we planted a few seeds of each of the lettuce/greens packets – we got an Heirloom Variety pack that had nine kinds, and also had a few others to try. So, we planted eleven or twelve different types of lettuce in one of our raised beds. I can’t wait till they start sprouting up… should be soon! We have BIG plans for the garden this year – more veggies and herbs, and even some new and creative ways that we are using our small space. Then of course, it’s gonna be some good eating (with scraps, no doubt!) and the whole cycle with the wormies will start again. It’s pretty amazing. Those little worms are amazing creatures.
If you are interested in vermiculture composting – or composting in general (we also have a “heap” of outdoor waste – grass clipping, leaves, twigs, big scraps that won’t fit in the bin like cabbage and lettuce heads, celery hearts, etc.) here are some resources to get you started! It’s really quite simple and you don’t have to do too much – nature takes care of a lot of things for you!