Composting at warp speed

Composting at warp speed

In my last post I mentioned vermiculture, otherwise known as worm compost. It’ll be part of the Nourish(meant) project that Emily Nelson and Graham Evans are undertaking. As luck would have it, when I met them on Monday I was fresh from a weekend in which my husband and I had acquired a worm system of our own. At the risk of sounding like a weirdo, I will relay my excitement about this. Here goes. Dude!! Our very own worms!!

We were given the worms by my wonderful sister-in-law, who got a vermiculture system up and running about a year ago at the school where she’s a therapist. (And blogged it!) The basic idea is to have a bucket or bin in which you keep some bedding (shredded paper, in this case) and some red wiggler worms (here’s one place to order them). Some black plastic on top keeps moisture in. Here’s our setup:

Then you put in most of the same kinds of stuff you’d put in a compost pile—ground eggshells, fruit rinds, veggie trimmings, banana peels—and the worms turn it into a nice, rich, fluffy fertilizer. (“Castings” is the polite term.)

As long as you keep them well-fed, moist, and not too hot or cold, the worms happily live and reproduce in the bucket, eventually making enough babies so you can divide them and expand your operation. That’s what my sister-in-law was doing when she got us started. We’ve already used some of the compost from her worms in our garden, and it’s good stuff.


Two big advantages over regular compost: speed and smell. The worms eat through food a lot more quickly than the microorganisms in a compost pile would, and they do it without an odor. All you city dwellers with nowhere to put an outdoor pile, this is your chance.

We’re already envisioning huge, multi-stage worm farming at our place, but for now we’ll just concentrate on taking care of our one little worm bucket and see how it goes. Anyone got advice? Experiences to share?