|They're slippery! They're slithery! They're a
farmer's best friend!
They're little red worms with a big mission...recycling! With a
bit of help from humans donating food scraps, these red worms eat
their way through the leftovers and leave their castings (worm poop)
to form rich, soil-like compost! This compost ultimately helps to
save the planet by recyling waste products into nutrients to help
other plants and lawns to grow better! It's one of the most
effective ways everyone can participate in bettering our
To begin composting, procure some sort of big bin like a plastic tub
or fish tank with a volume of about 5 to 10 gallons. The container
should have a lid with holes to allow the worms to breathe.
Next, tear black and white (not colored) newspaper into 1/2 inch
strips. Wet them until most and put the strips into the bin until it
is about 3/4 full of paper. Keep the paper "fluffed" up and do not
pack it down. Then add approximately 2 to 4 cups of soil. The next
step is adding the red worms (call your local worm farm!)
Sometimes referred to as "reds" or "blue-gray thins" composting
worms are different from garden variety earthworms. They have been
bred specifically for composting and can be obtained from several
sources locally and online. (If you're interested contact "Live Nude
Worms" by searching for them on the web- I promise they're a clean
site!). To determine how many worms you will need for your compost
bin, weigh your food scraps each day for about 2 to 3 weeks and
figure out a daily average. Double the answer and you will know how
many red worms to use. (ex. 25 oz. of food = 50 oz. of worms to eat
And, finally, the food scraps! Bury small pieces of fruit and
vegetables under the newspaper strips, varying the locations each
day. If you like to cook, try to imagine your compost bin as a huge
mixing bowl! If you like to experiment, picture a large test tube!
No matter which ingredients you choose, the finished product will
help your garden thrive.
Ideally, you should try to keep a 20:1 ratio (C/N) of garden
refuse (carbon) and kitchen scraps (nitrogen). Be sure to keep the
moisture content at a consistent level, too. If it feels dry, use a
spray bottle filled with water to dampen. The worms will also
consume their "environment," so be sure to add new paper strips as
needed. DO NOT use meat, bones, oils or dairy products in your bin.
Some suggestions for carbon (usually "browns" and "yellows"): dry
leaves, twigs, sawdust, paper, straw, dry grass, hay, corncobs,
cornstalks, vegetable stalks, crushed nutshells, pine needles, and
For your nitrogen ingredients (the "greens"): fresh fruit and
vegetable scraps, fresh lawn clippings, farm manure (like rye
grass), human and pet hair, coffee grounds, and garden weeds.
One more suggestion: keep your bin away from windows and heaters!
Then, after about six weeks, you will begin to see the castings!
In another three to four months -- you will have your very own
compost -- thanks to your new friends...red worms!
Speaking of recipes...after you have harvested your compost, how
about a "cuppa" for a favorite tree or shrub? If you have plants
that will benefit from a quick dose of nutrients, you may want to
try making "compost tea" to feed them. Take a cloth bag and fill it
with compost. Submerge the bag in a container of water and steep for
about seven days. Use the enriched "tea" on your plants!
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