Worm composting directly in the garden bed simplifies the process of vermicomposting. The worms live, work, reproduce, and make worm castings in the garden bed, right where they are needed.
How does vermicomposting work?
Worm composting – also called vermicomposting (‘vermi’ = worm) – is the process of using worms to compost food scraps into vermicompost. Worms eat up to half their weight each day in kitchen scraps, and the byproduct of all that eating is worm castings. (Worm castings = GARDEN GOLD!)
During the digestion process, the worms secrete chemicals that break organic matter into nutrition that is readily available for plants. Worm castings, along with the chemicals secreted during digestion, make up vermicompost.
What are the benefits of worm composting?
- Vermicompost improves soil texture and structure, and aerates the soil.
- Vermicompost increases the water-holding capacity of soil.
- The nutrients in vermicompost are immediately available to plants.
- Worm castings contribute to faster plant growth and higher production.
- Worm castings are dense in microorganisms and nutrients.
- The chemicals in worm castings help prevent “damping off” and other diseases.
What is the easiest way to make a worm composting bin?
A vermicomposting bin built into your raised beds is the easiest way to make a worm composting bin. No need to harvest the worm castings or move the worms inside for extremes of hot and cold temperatures. The worms live, work, reproduce, and make worm castings in the garden bed, right where they are needed.
How do I make an in-bed worm composter?
Directions for making an in-bed vermicomposter:
Use a drill and a large bit to drill several holes all around a 2 gallon bucket.
Dig a hole in the garden bed the size of the bucket.
Place bucket in the hole.
Fill the bucket with shredded cardboard, and wet it down. Allow cardboard to absorb moisture overnight.
Add 300-600 worms to the bucket.
Put the lid on the bucket.
Begin feeding worms – see worm feeding details below.
A note about sizes:
My raised beds are 15 inches deep, 4 feet wide and 8 feet long.
I used 2 two gallon buckets in each bed. If your beds are smaller or larger, adjust size and number of beds accordingly.
What do worms eat?
Good for feeding worms
Avoid feeding worms
coffee grounds, grains, tea bags, vegetables, fruit, eggshells, paper
dairy, oily food, spicy food, meat, citrus, salty foods, fermented foods, glossy paper
Tips for feeding worms:
- Add equal amounts of greens and browns each time you feed.
fruit scraps, vegetable scraps, bread, pasta, coffee grounds, eggshells
cardboard, mulch, dry leaves, shredded paper
- Make sure worms have eaten previously-added food scraps before adding more. Plan on feeding worms about once per week.
- Cut or blend food before adding to bins. Smaller pieces of food break down faster and speed up the composting process.
- After adding food scraps (greens), cover with browns to avoid attracting fruit flies.
- Remove large pieces of uneaten food. Pay attention to what the worms are eating and not eating.
- Interior of the bin should have the moisture consistency of a dried-out sponge. Spray lightly with a hose if necessary.
- Replace lid on bucket after feeding.