you’re looking for a quick and easy way to compost
your kitchen scraps, try a worm bin.
Costa Master Gardener Linda Mizes says worm bins are
easier to maintain than traditional compost bins, and
the rewards are even greater. Worms produce manure,
called castings, that are an excellent compost to add to
your outdoor garden and your indoor plants.
are her tips:
Mizes recommends a three-bin system. You can purchase a
bin or make your own with plastic tubs or boxes.
If you make your own, drill drainage holes in the
bottoms of the top two bins, plus add a few air holes
around the top of the bins. A commercial bin will
already have the openings.
The top bin will be your working bin, the second will be
the curing bin and the bottom one will be a collection
bin for the liquid, called worm tea.
Use spacers to separate the bins when they are stacked.
You can use small blocks of wood or even tin cans.
Prepare a bed for the worms in the top bin. Shred
newspaper into strips and then moisten and fluff the
paper. Add the water to the paper, not the paper to the
water. Over saturating the paper will cause it to clump,
making it difficult for the worms and air to move
Next add the worms. You’ll need special compost worms,
also called manure worms or red wigglers. Purchase them
online or get some from a friend who already has a bin.
Compost worms are not the same worms you’ll find in
your garden. Garden, or earth worms, can’t survive in
a worm bin and compost worms can’t live in the garden.
Finally, add the food. The worms will eat all sorts of
fruits and vegetables. They are partial to things such
as melons, coffee grounds and filters, squash, celery,
lettuce and flower petals. Do not feed them meat, dairy,
oils or fats.
Chop the food into 1-2 inches pieces. Don’t process
the food. That can lead to extra moisture building up in
FOR YOUR WORMS
Keep the bins in a protected area, out of direct
sunlight and high temperatures.
A brown liquid will collect in the bottom of the bin.
This is worm tea and it is high in nutrients, useful as
a soil drench or foliar spray. Dilute it with five parts
water to one part tea before using.
It’s normal to have other critters in the worm bin,
including pot worms, springtails and mites.
Keep an eye on the bins to make sure the bedding stays
moist, but not wet. You can add additional bedding as
time goes on.
Harvest the working bin when it has 3 to 4 inches of
castings. Remove the worms, bedding and food, and put
them in a new working bin that you’ve already prepared
with shredded newspapers. The original working bin, now
containing the castings, will then become the curing
Harvested worm castings will improve if they are allowed
to cure for a couple of months before using, although
you don’t have to wait. You’ll just have better worm
compost if you do.
As castings accumulate, rotate the two upper bins,
allowing the casting to cure and the worm to keep
Be sure to empty the collection bin of worm tea
regularly. If the container fills up, the other bins may
not be able to drain properly and your worms can drown.
Use your castings on your plants. The best way is to mix
them with water and use it on your plants, but you also
can add them directly onto the soil.