Or a guide to having earthworms as roommates
Looking for a way to fertilise your indoor plants while avoiding using liquid or dry fertiliser packaged in pesky plastic?
Are you frustrated with the way other people who are sharing your compost container put stuff in there that just isn’t compostable?
Or are you simply curious about having a more unusual and unique pet?
Perhaps you should think about starting your own indoor composting system with earthworms!
We promise it can be a very exciting and informative experiment. First off, there are many different composting techniques that can be adapted for indoor use, popular methods being bokashi and vermicomposting. In the former, organic matter is fermented by lactobacilli which turn carbohydrates into lactic acid, preserving food remnants until ready to be brought outside and added to soil. There are a number of companies that sell airtight bokashi bins along with a bokashi starter containing the right bacteria.
Now time to get a little unconventional! How do you feel about bringing some wiggly-worms into your home? Not to fear, vermiculture (or composting using worms) simply means feeding your kitchen scraps to worms instead of bacteria!
Now, while this sounds quite simple, there are some things to keep in mind when feeding your new friends:
- There are things you should definitely not feed them, such as bones, cat litter, chemicals, citrus fruits, cooked or extremely salty foods in excessive amounts, dairy products, feces, high gloss paper, meat or walnut leaves.
- Their food needs to be moist in order to be broken down properly.
- The smaller the food is cut, the easier it is for them to consume.
- Ideal conditions for the worms are a dark and moist environment, kept between 15 and 25°C and with a neutral pH value.
Tips from personal experience!
Maintenance effort is fairly small – I tend to add kitchen scraps once or twice a week (I collect scraps in a small jar throughout the week and store it in the fridge). If fruit flies take over your compost bin, that means it’s probably too wet and has not been covered properly. I recently did a pH test using a red cabbage indicator and discovered that my compost had become too acidic, which can be corrected by adding a bit of lime in the form of garden lime or wood ash. For those who might be afraid of strong odours: the compost generally does not smell like much, at most a bit earthy.
Having a worm compost is something extremely positive and encouraging for me, because it helped me to realise the value of kitchen waste: things that I would otherwise throw away and consider disgusting as they develop a bad smell in the compost bin are now turned into worm feces that I can then use to nourish my plants. Plus I love seeing the worms grow! Worm tea, the liquid that drops down from the compost into the lower part of the bin, can be used as liquid fertiliser for indoor plants.
Making your own worm compost bin
Basically all you need to get started is a large bin or any other sort of container made of a waterproof material (such as rubber, plastic or wood), some compost containing worms or worm eggs (you can get these from your neighbour’s outdoor compost or order them online – e.g. here if you’re in Sweden; certain worm species can also be found at fishing suppliers), kitchen scraps, and a cover to keep out light and flies and to prevent the compost from drying out. We won’t go into too much detail on how to build one at this point, but if you want to get started have a look here for some instructions:
We’re planning a worm-compost-bin-building workshop, so keep an eye out on our upcoming events here or on Facebook!
If you’re not interested in building a compost from scratch there are different models you can buy from eye-catching all-plastic bins to bins disguised as wooden stools such as the Wurmkiste.