Through this method, red worms -not nightcrawlers or field worms found in gardens- are placed in bins with organic matter in order to break it down into a high-value compost called castings. Worm bins are easy to construct (they are also commercially available) and can be adapted to accommodate the volume of food scraps generated.
Types of Waste and Waste Generators: Worms will eat almost anything you would put in a typical compost pile (e.g., food scraps, paper, plants). Vermicomposting can be ideal for apartment dwellers or small offices that want to derive some of the benefits of composting and reduce solid waste. It is frequently used in schools to teach children conservation and recycling.
Climate or Seasonal Considerations: Worms are sensitive to variations in climate. Extreme temperatures and direct sunlight are not healthy for the worms. The optimal temperatures for vermicomposting range from 55° F to 77° F. In hot, arid areas, the bin should be placed under the shade. By vermicomposting indoors, however, one can avoid many of the problems posed by hot or cold climates. The primary responsibility is to keep the worms alive and healthy by providing the proper conditions and sufficient food.
Requirements: Vermicomposting has only a few basic requirements, among them: worms, worm bedding (e.g., shredded newspaper, cardboard), and a bin to contain the worms and organic matter. Maintenance procedures include preparing bedding, burying garbage, and separating worms from their castings.
Results: One pound of mature worms (approximately 800-1,000 worms) can eat up to half a pound of organic material per day. It typically takes three to four months for these worms to produce harvestable castings, which can be used as potting soil. Vermicomposting also produces compost or “worm” tea, a high-quality liquid fertilizer for house plants or gardens.