Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Introducing our Worms

At long last, we have a way to dispose of our kitchen scraps that is NOT throwing them down the garbage chute! It's hard to reduce waste while living in a third floor condo - our county has a decent green waste program for single family homes, but it's not yet implemented for multi-family housing such as apartments or condo complexes. Until now, we've begrudgingly tossed our kitchen scraps into the garbage. But since nearly all of our garbage could be composted, it bothered me every time I tossed a bag down the garbage chute.

But then Sean and I learned about vermicompost. Worms (specifically, red wrigglers) will eat almost any kitchen scraps, as well as shredded newspaper and cardboard. Worm castings are some of the best all natural plant fertilizers around. Best of all, they don't take up very much space, making them an ideal solution for apartment or condo dwellers!

Before bringing the worms home, we had to get their bin set up. After doing some research on worm bins, we decided to keep costs down at the beginning and reuse an old cat litter bucket. Some vermicompost experts aren't fond of plastic as a home, but at this point we just don't have the resources or physical space to build anything out of wood. Maybe later down the road we'll upgrade the worm home. But we feel this is a good start, and an easy DIY project.

Here's the cat litter bucket we started with:

As you can see, we have a small collection of litter buckets on the balcony! They're useful for storing extra dirt, gardening tools, and even serving as planters as we slowly get nicer terra cotta pots. Part of the balcony has a solid wooden wall, and part has metal bars. We keep the pretty pots where the public can see them, and the functional but less attractive bins where they can't be seen.

First, I drilled some holes in the bottom for drainage. If you don't drill holes in the bottom, you can even keep worm bins indoors, but as we are doing this outside we decided to make sure there is good drainage.

Next, two rows of air holes at the top:

After the holes were drilled, I added shredded newspaper for the bedding. It needs to be damp for the worms, so I wet it using a spray bottle of water.

Then we added some small pieces of corrugated cardboard (about 3" x 3") and some dirt to act as grit.

Finally, we got to add the worms!

Getting settled into their new home! We can't wait to watch them turn our scraps into that amazing "black gold"!

Linking up to Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways


  1. Looks great. I like the way you have used materials you already have on hand. I received a hand-me-down vermicomposting system that I need to update, and I like yours!

    1. Hi Lorraine, thanks for the comment! I'll post updates on the vermicomposting as it progresses. It's too soon to tell how my hodge-podge system will compare to the others out there, but at least it didn't cost anything to start the experiment(beyond the worms themselves)!