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Should I Buy Compost or Make My Own Compost?

buy-compost-or-make-compostHere at Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm, we sell an awful lot of finished compost to people who want to fertilize their plants, gardens and lawns naturally. We also sell huge quantities of composting worms for making compost. Sometimes, folks ask us, “Should I buy worms to make my own compost, or order finished compost?” The answer to this question depends on several factors.

Timing: When Do You Need It?

If you need finished compost right away, best to buy it. The fertilizer arrives by mail quickly.

If you want to make finished compost by feeding kitchen scraps to composting worms, be prepared to wait! Starting with a modest quantity of worms in a small bin, it takes at least a month, and possibly several months, to establish the composting bin and start harvesting the finished compost. Finished compost from a worm bin will be mostly worm castings (worm poop). Worm castings look like black specks, similar to slightly damp coffee grounds. For a while, you will mostly see worms, bedding (such as pure peat moss, shredded newspaper, coconut coir, etc.) and scraps in the bin.

The good news is that once you start composting, you will have a continuous supply of fishing worms. And, you can harvest finished compost whenever it’s ready.

Need More

Some folks have composting programs, but simply need to top up their supply of finished compost. The big rush comes in the spring, when gardeners want to get their gardens and lawns growing strong. Sometimes their composter didn’t produce enough compost for their needs – maybe the bin was too small, or not many scraps were added. Or, if the bin was outdoors, the scraps were frozen over the winter and the process of breaking down the organic matter needs more time. Although the cold can kill off adult worms, babies might hatch, and it takes time for them to get mature and productive. Ordering more compost online quickly fixes these problems.

Not Enough Scraps

Some people eat out most of the time. Left-overs in doggie bags are often meat or cheese products, unsuitable for composting. Most take-out food is drenched in greasy sauces and oils. People who dine out frequently are better off buying compost as-needed. (Hack: Ask restaurants for used coffee grounds, vegetable scraps, etc. Or order worm food from Uncle Jim.) Households that prepare foods from scratch will have plenty of kitchen scraps, like carrot tops, vegetable peelings, fruit cores, skins, string bean tips, and other inedibles. They are good candidates for a composting program, regardless of household size.

Worm Bin Barriers

Frequent travelers can have interruptions in their composting program. If a pet sitter is coming over anyway, show them a large quantity of pre-made scraps in your fridge or freezer, and teach them how to feed the worms. An outdoor bin can be abandoned for a while – just give them a big feeding before you go and hope for the best. If travel is a real problem, you might be better off buying compost as needed.

Creative apartment and urban dwellers can get around worm bin barriers by composting indoors or building a rooftop composting program. If just a few pounds of finished compost are needed once a year for the potted plants, best to buy it.

Sometimes other household members aren’t on board with composting. They might complain, or undermine the program by not complying with scrap collection guidelines. Indoor composting is especially likely to raise concerns. If this happens, try to address each concern. Take full responsibility for the program. Reduce odors by keeping scraps in the refrigerator or freezer, removing scraps frequently, keeping the collection bin clean and burying scraps. If none of this works, cancel the program and buy the finished compost.

Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm has composting solutions for everyone. Either DIY with a worm bin, or buy our finished compost. They are pure worm castings made by our red worms here in Pennsylvania. Gardeners love it, and so do the plants!

3 comments on “Should I Buy Compost or Make My Own Compost?

    • Samson J. Cameron says:

      I have been doing this very same thing from the beginning of my composting story. I found both types of worms do well together. However; the night crawlers stay more towards the bottom of bin and the red wrigglers are alway right below the surface. From my observation neither one will hinder the operations of the other. and the Night Crawlers break down the more substantial materials that the red wrigglers leave behind. (Banana peel stems, pineapple skins, melon rides, etc. are broken down more quickly by night crawlers).

      Reply
  • Thomas Tuchscherer says:

    I feed my worms a combination of shredded paper, banana peels, apple cores and skins and coffee grounds, While there is a good amount of castings, there is a large of amount of yellowish ‘gunk’ (don’t know if that description helps). Am I doing something wrong? If so, is there a fix?

    Reply

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