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Recycling with earthworms is an easy way to convert large portions of household waste into nutrient rich fertilizer and natural pesticide. Most households produce more than 50% of waste that could simply be composted with the help of earthworms / compost worms. Earthworms feed basically on anything that has ever been alive and is now dead.

Nearly any organic and natural materials will be welcomed as a food source by these humble creatures. Food waste like apple cores, banana peels, carrot off cuts, tea bags, coffee filters and coffee ground can be fed to compost worms as well as old corrugated cardboard, newspapers, junk mail, old tissues and toilet paper.

Worm composting can be done virtually anywhere, indoors and outdoors. You can purchase a commercially available worm bin or just set up your own worm farm within a few minutes using an old plastic bucket, plastic bin or even an simple plastic bag that you have at home.

Recycling with earthworms is easy. To get started you will need your worm bin, some worm bedding (for example strips of old newspapers that have been soaked in water), worm food (your food waste, garden clippings...) and of course worms.

If you do have a compost heap at home you might find some worms right there as they love rich organic matter and can very often picked up by the hundreds in well established composts.

Alternatively just order a starter population of about 500 worms from a local commercial worm farmer.
Once you got your worm bin, set it up in a shaded place for example a storage room, cellar, garage, if indoors or a balcony, under a tree or a bush if you want to run it outdoors.

When it is in position fill the bottom of the bin with a layer of about 4 inches / 10 cm of worm bedding, add your worms and give them about 5 minutes to dig down into the bedding. They are scared of sunlight and will avoid it at all costs.

When they have disappeared add a thin layer of food waste or any other organic household scraps on top of the bedding and cover the bin with a lid.

That's basically all you need to start recycling with earthworms.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Magnolia tree (6+ / 0-)

    This tree is 60 years old and has very soft soil underneath. Every spring I can "harvest" as many earthworms as I can use. This year I bought baby chicks and the worms are a big treat with them.

    I have my compost pile in a bin built with pallets that I got at a lumber hard. The compost consists of two bags of garden soil, all my kitchen waste except meat products, wet torn up newspapers and dirt out of flower beds, etc. Occasionally if I find some nicely dried cow manure around the barns, I add it to the mix. I only use manure that comes from grass fed cattle. Commercial cattle feed has all sorts of junk in it. Occasionally I let my hen, Louise, in the bin to scratch around and aerate it. I also turn the mixture regularly.

    Today I am doing some planting and will use the rich mixture that the worms have built up for me.

    "Just when you think you've lost everything, you find out you can lose a little more." Bob Dylan

    by weezilgirl on Thu May 29, 2014 at 07:43:37 AM PDT

    •  my magnolias are over 100 years old and are (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      about 12 feet around.  However, their leaves do not decompose so as to form humus for some reason.  I always attributed it to the waxy coating they have on their leaves so they decay differently from the pecan leaves for example

      •  Magnolia leaves (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        don't decompose under my tree. I rake them, burn them and use the ashes. I throw all the dry limbs, etc. in the fire and create as much wood ash as I can.

        "Just when you think you've lost everything, you find out you can lose a little more." Bob Dylan

        by weezilgirl on Thu May 29, 2014 at 09:21:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  that was what I thought but then there are (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          always variations in subspecies and I thought you might have a different sort.  Ashes do make a good substitute for lime in "sweetening" the soil, if my memory serves me.
          In the old days,  cotton stalks were gathered and stacked and burned on tobacco beds prior to seeding to both kill weed seeds and to sweeten the soil

  •  Thanks for the reminder. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'd been meaning to turn my compost bin into a worm composter, but I hadn't though about it in some time. Coffee filters seem to take forever to decompose, but I bet that'll go a lot quicker with worms.

    One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain -Bob Marley

    by Darwinian Detritus on Thu May 29, 2014 at 08:03:12 AM PDT

  •  Had a worm composter, worked well (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    trivium, FarWestGirl

    I set the worms free in my parents composter when I moved out of my apartment.

    I made mine out of two long, flat and low storage/tupperware containers (the kind used for clothes). After making some holes in one of them, I placed it in the non-perforated container. I lined the bottom of the punctured container with newspaper, soil and then shredded newspaper on top. I got my worms from a local garden center and after placing them in, I placed the cover on top and let them get used to their new home.

    Care was overall easy. The lid kept in most of the moisture, it only needed water about once a month. Never let the soil get soggy, as this may drown the worms. Food scraps (plant matter and eggshells) were placed on either the left or right side of the container (whichever side didn't have food at the moment). Harvesting the soil/castings involved opening part of the container and shining a light on a side. Worms migrate to the dark side and in a few hours, the soil can be collected (though one or two worms never hurt a plant).  

    I'd make another one, if only I can get my husband to be less squeamish about the new pets.

  •  I have a naturally occurring colony (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    trivium, FarWestGirl

    of black soldier fly grubs in my composter out back. They make quick work of everything I throw in there, which is primarily chicken droppings.

    Because I put chicken droppings into the composter, I don't feed the grubs back to my chickens because of the danger of concentrating internal parasites.

    I've been thinking of setting up a small separate composter into which I would put only stuff from the house so I could give those grubs to our chickens.

  •  I have a friend who does this, too. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    trivium, FarWestGirl

    But she is a master gardener who does all kinds of things with compost. Good to see that it's easier than I thought.

    Welcome to Daily Kos. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Community Guidelines, the Knowledge Base, and the Site Resource Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.
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    by peregrine kate on Thu May 29, 2014 at 12:04:59 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for the diary. (0+ / 0-)

    I came across it in the Green Diary Rescue, and was interested. I myself have raised worms indoors for purposes of recycling household waste for almost one year. I have been through a lot of futzing around and trial-and-error with it. Undoubtedly, I have sacrificed some convenience in waste disposal. But I now feed virtually 100% of my kitchen scraps and 80% or so of my scrap paper to the worms. The worm castings, which I've harvested a few times, have not been of great quality (they've had lots and lots of unprocessed waste mixed-in with them). But I strongly suspect I am still in the learning curve with all this. I am not as proficient or efficient a vermiculturalist as I one-day hope to be.

    The very best source of information I have found online for vermiculturalists, beginning and advanced, commercial and amateur, is this web site:

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Sat May 31, 2014 at 02:08:58 PM PDT

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