Composting With Worms: Sounds Gross, But Kids Love It
By Sheri Vettel
Most children love playing with wiggly worms. Vermicomposting (a.k.a using worms to break down food waste) is a sure way to get your kid into gardening.
If worms count, my family and I have hundreds of pets. Several months ago we decided to take our composting to the next level. We visited a worm farm (yes, they absolutely exist!) and came home with buckets full o’ worms.
My son, who regularly digs for and plays with worms, was in heaven. He handles the worms with love and care and is always excited to “feed” them. We have taught him about the importance of preventing food waste and how vermicomposting gives back to our environment.
Even if you don’t love worms (yet), there are many benefits to vermicomposting.
First, creating worm compost is a wonderful way to send less food waste to our landfills, where it will decompose and produce methane gas contributing to global warming. Second, it is low maintenance and can be done without a lot of space. Third, worm compost is incredibly nutrient-rich and will help your garden thrive!
Did I mention your children will also LOVE it and be eager to help out?
What You Will Need:
- Red Wiggler Worms: This worm has an amazing digestive system. It is able to turn your food waste into a nutrient-rich mixture known as worm castings (or worm poop!) that is higher in nitrogen than conventionally-produced compost.
- A Worm Bin: Depending on the amount of worms you have and where you will be keeping your worm bin, there are many different considerations to make as far as size and material. Check here for more information. We use two stacked 14-gallon plastic tote bins and keep them inside a spare bathroom in the winter and on our porch in the warmer months. Keep in mind your bins should be opaque (worms don’t love the sunshine) and they should promote proper drainage. We drilled holes into the bottom of the bins our worms live in, and the liquid (or leachate) drips into the bin that it is stacked inside.
- Bedding: Proper bedding keeps your worms happy. They will stay damp (but not too soggy) and well fed. Materials that can be used as bedding are shredded newspaper (NOT glossy papers), small pieces of corrugated cardboard, straw, or shredded leaves. We frequently use peat moss, and we keep a thin layer of garden tarp or shredded cardboard on top.
- Grit: Like chickens, worms have a gizzard and need a little extra assistance to digest their food. You can add a source of grit to your vermicomposting bin every few months. Good ideas include crushed oyster shell or garden soil.