UCCE Master Gardeners of San Joaquin County
University of California
UCCE Master Gardeners of San Joaquin County

Composting with Worms

Everything you need to know about vermicomposting

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Organic materials make up approximately two-thirds of the waste stream. While much of this is paper which can be used more efficiently or recycled, a large portion is material like food waste for which few beneficial options outside of composting exist. Fortunately, nature has provided one option that has been receiving increasing attention--vermicomposting.

So what, you may ask, is vermicomposting and how does it work? 

Well, "vermi" is the Latin word for worm, and worms like to feed on slowly decomposing organic materials (e.g., vegetable scraps). The "end" product, called castings, is full of beneficial microbes and nutrients, and makes a great plant fertilizer. So, vermicomposting is the practice of using worms to make compost simply by feeding them your food waste.

The reason vermicomposting is becoming popular is because worms are very efficient eating machines. They eat over half their body weight in organic matter per day!

Check out the links below for more information on starting your own worm bin!

CA Integrated Waste Management Board - Covers worm composting from start to finish

Worm and worm bin suppliers in Central CA (from the CA Integrated Waste Management Board)

Building your own worm bin - Includes instructions and dimensions for building a wooden box - from Seattle Tilth

Building your own worm bin - using a tote box (from Vermicompost.net)

Classroom Guide to worm composting - (from the CA Integrated Waste Management Board a guide for teachers)

The Adventures of Vermi the Worm (from the CA Integrated Waste Management Board a guide for teachers)

The Adventures of Herman the Worm (from the University of Illinois Extension) Learn about the anatomy of worms as well as the importance in vermicomposting.

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