Composting with worms is a great way to make free fertilizer. Diverting unwanted food scraps from the landfill helps save the environment. And vermicomposting is a fun hobby for all ages. But where can you get enough free worm food for volume composting?
For many households, the scraps generated in the kitchen are enough. They make sufficient quantities of compost without finding more worm food. Gardeners and lawn enthusiasts need enough completed compost to nourish their plants. The composting worms are happy to oblige, and they will eat through a typical household kitchen’s scraps.
However, sometimes kitchen scraps aren’t enough. In springtime, demand for compost is high. Making starts, planting the garden and getting the season’s lawn maintenance underway can quickly use up the available supply of finished compost.
Small households, apartment dwellers, and people who eat out a lot also tend to produce less-than-ideal quantities of food scraps. “Take-out” left-overs are often mixed with greasy sauces, meat, and oil, which is not good for composting.
Worm composting programs can scale up to produce a large amount of finished compost. For example, a well-managed composting program can serve an entire apartment building, neighborhood, office building or campus. A household program can also be expanded, gradually, if there are enough scraps and composters available. Additional or larger composters may be needed, and the bins should be monitored to prevent over-feeding or moisture problems. The population of worms will expand and contract to meet the need, or you can order additional composting worms.
It is easy to get more worm food for free. Don’t ever pay for organic material for composting!
Ask the Neighbors for Worm Food
Your neighbors might be delighted to save kitchen scraps in their fridge or freezer for you. This cuts back on the odor in their trash, stop raccoon attacks on the garbage cans, and helps the environment. Arrange to go pick it up once a week.
Compost with Animal Waste
If you live in a rural area, there is manure going to waste everywhere. Only use manure from herbivores, never from carnivores or omnivores. For example, horses, cows, and rabbits can be a source of composting material. Rabbit manure is considered a “cool” type of manure. You can put it into a worm bin after several days of maturing. However, horse and cow manure should be left out in the elements for a season to “mature” and get rained on. Ask around at dairies, pastures, and corrals.
Coffee grounds make great worm food. Just don’t over-do this. Mix in lots of other types of compost. Add some crushed eggshells with the coffee grounds to reduce the acidity.
Waste from the Garden
All gardens produce some amount of waste. Organic spoiled fruits and vegetables, and stems are all fair game for the composter. Untreated grass clippings (in small quantities) and leaves are also suitable. Just don’t add large amounts of acidic foods such as tomatoes, or you might throw off the worm bin’s pH.
Corrugated Cardboard from the Store
Stores receive most of their merchandise in brown corrugated cardboard boxes. Ask if you can have some. Shred it before feeding it to the worms. Shredded cardboard doubles as bedding.
Worm food is free. Use your creativity to ramp up your vermicomposting program’s productivity. Provide enough food and the worm population will gradually grow to eat it. Adding a bag of composting worms will give the system a boost.
If you’re in a pinch and need more compost, Uncle Jim’s has finished compost you can order.