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Worm Composting is a DIY Project For All Ages

DECATUR, Ill. — DIY projects are a great way to welcome Spring. Have you ever considered Worm Composting or Vermicomposting? One pound of worms- about 500 worms- can eat between one-half and one pound of food waste per day and can double in population in a month if they have sufficient food, water, and shelter. Vermipost is mostly worm waste referred to as “castings” and compared to ordinary soil contains 5 to 11 times more plant-available nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. It is a mild organic fertilizer that is safe for your plants.

“Worm composting is a great way for you to recycle fruit and vegetable waste from your kitchen,” said Doug Gucker, University of Illinois Extension Local Foods and Small Farms Educator,. “Another great thing about this type of composting is that it can be done year-round.”

The best worms for vermicomposting are: red worms, brandling worms, and European nightcrawlers. These earthworms are surface dwellers which means they will live in the upper layers of rich, organic matter in piles of decaying litter. They do not burrow like some common earthworms found in backyards. Vermicomposting worms can also survive in temperatures ranging from 40⁰ to 90⁰ F but prefer between 55⁰ and 77⁰ F.

Small pieces of fruits and vegetables- including peels-, ground eggshells, coffee grounds, tea bags, and small amounts of moistened plain cereal, bread and pasta are ideal foods for worms. Foods to avoid include meat, poultry, dairy products, oils and strongly flavored foods such as garlic and onions. In the beginning, feeding will be by trial and error.

The key is to understand the amount of food that the worms can consume in a week, and not overfeed them. Scraps that are placed in the bin should be buried in the worm bedding. This will help to reduce odor and keep from attracting insects. Varying the location of the food will also help avoid pockets of excess waste. Even though worms eat approximately half their body weight in food each day, it is easy to overwhelm them and cause problems for you.

To learn how to build an indoor vermicomposter visit Know How, Know More.

The Local Food Systems and Small Farms program is a branch of University of Illinois Extension that provides research-based information about agriculture health and safety, environmentally and economically sound pest control and improving profitability and sustainability. Follow educator Doug Gucker on Twitter.

Source: Doug Gucker, CCA, University of Illinois Extension, Local Foods and Small Farms Educator, serving DeWitt, Macon and Piatt Counties, (217) 877-6042.
News Writer: Maria Lightner, Marketing and Communications Program Coordinator



Doug Gucker
Extension Educator, Local Food Systems and Small Farms
Macon Extension Office
3351 N. President Howard Brown Blvd., Decatur, IL 62521
(217) 877-6042