Vermicomposting is a effective way to recycle paper waste and kitchen scraps into nutrient-rich organic fertilizer for your garden and houseplants. Vermicompost is a stable, slow release fertilizer and soil amendment. Worm castings add beneficial microorganisms which promote soil health. They also add organic material to improve soil texture for increased moisture holding capacity and improved drainage. Vermicompost does not “burn” tender plants like chemical fertilizers can.
My redworm adventures started with a desire to compost kitchen scraps easily during Michigan winters! After reading an article on vermicomposting in Martha Stewart magazine my interest became determination. I purchased the book, Worms Eat My Garbage, by Mary Appelhof which gives easy to follow instructions on building and maintaining a worm bin. I highly recommend her book! – and no, I’ve not been paid to say so.
Below is a picture of the bin I’ve been maintaining for several years. This bin overwinters in the basement. I put it outside in the summer in a shady spot. Worms are happiest between temperatures that humans also find comfortable. Between 65-80 degrees fahrenheit is best. The worms slow down at lower temperatures. If the bin dries out or stays too warm for too long they will die, so it’s important to keep them shaded and moist in the heat of summer!
The bin above has a breathable liner I use to minimize moisture loss while I compost in the house. I don’t always use a liner when composting outdoors. A year or so ago, I found unexpected and intriguing new additions to the outdoor bin!
These are soldier fly larvae. They are a native bug in Michigan. I did some research on soldier flies and it turns out – they are highly efficient composters as well! The soldier fly lays its eggs in a nitrogen rich environment, such as an accessible worm bin with plenty of decomposing kitchen scraps. The larvae feast on the scraps and the poop they generate is further processed by the worms. Fish and birds enjoy the larvae as a snack. The adult soldier fly looks a lot like a wasp. This can be alarming when you first notice them, but they are harmless to humans and do not bite. I’m happy to have them in my outdoor bin.
Do you vermicompost?
Have you seen these larvae before?
Leave a comment and share your thoughts.
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