Indoor Composting with Worms: Uncle Jim's Guide

A Guide to Successful Indoor Composting with Worms

Indoor Composters, Red Worms, Vermicomposting

indoor composting in the kitchenVermicomposting can be done almost anywhere, indoors and out. Using worms to break down your food scraps is great for the environment. Composting results in a dark, rich fertilizer that is perfect for gardening. Composting indoors is a bit trickier, but it can be done successfully. Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm offers this easy-to-use guide to indoor composting with worms.

Reasons why people compost indoors include:

  • want convenient indoor access to the composting bin
  • concern that composting worms outdoors won’t survive the winter (although they might lay eggs or could be replaced with a fresh bag of worms in the spring)
  • want to continue strong composting program year-round, in spite of cold or heat
  • apartment or city dweller with no yard
  • no room on property for an outdoor bin

It is possible to compost outdoors without adding composting worms, but indoors, almost everyone employs worms. The food needs to break down quickly, with minimal odor inside. Composting worms are hungry critters, rapidly devouring food scraps and causing no trouble.

Causing no trouble, so long as you provide the worms what they need.

What Worms Need for Indoor Composting

Worms need a composter, bedding, and food. They also need to be put in a suitable location in the building.

For indoor composting, we recommend a tray-based composter such as the Worm Factory 360, Worm Cafe or Can-O-Worms. The holes in the bottom of each stacking tray allow for proper drainage. Composting worms move up to the top “feeding” tray, leaving finished compost in the bottom trays. Harvesting is very simple. Also, these composters come with a lid for darkness, and a spigot for releasing any excess water. You can order one from our website. They come with instructions and sets up in minutes.

Simpler portable composters can be made from a tote or bucket. There are basic pre-made composters too, such as Uncle Jim’s Worm Kits. These also work, but it can be slightly more difficult to manage moisture.

Bedding should have the consistency of a wrung-out sponge. Too dry and the worms cannot do their jobs. Too wet and you get odors, acidity, and dead worms. You will provide moisture the first time you set up the composter. After that, dry bedding can get a little sprinkle of water, but not too much or the worms will drown. Adding moist food such as melon also helps. Wet bedding can be treated with pure, untreated peat moss. Also, drainage holes might be clogged. Adding a blanket to the composter helps regulate moisture.

Feeding Your Worms

Worms are happy to eat your garbage. Left-over fruit, vegetables and grains; peelings; cores; end pieces; rinds; spoilt items; and inedible parts of the plant are all fair game. Just don’t add any fats, oils or dairy products. Rice drenched in butter sauce, meat, yogurt, and stale cottage cheese should not be put in your bin. Salad dressing can be rinsed off. Large amounts of acidic scraps, such as pineapple rinds and buckets of tomatoes and citric peelings should not go into the compost. Bananas peels can be melodious in an indoor composting bin. See more details about what to feed your composting worms.

Food must be cut up small so it can break down faster. This helps control odors. You can use a knife, food processor or chopper. Avoid over-feeding. If you have more food than they can start to eat in a few days, freeze it for later.

Always bury the food in the bedding. It makes the food easy for the worms to find, cuts odors and discourages flies. Sometimes, fruit flies will appear. If this happens, do not give up your indoor composting program. Instead, read our detailed article about fruit flies.

Best Location for the Worm Bin

The best location to put your worm bin depends on your home’s layout. You will want a space that does not block foot traffic. A location in or near the kitchen is handy. Consider a closet, a cupboard or under the sink. The basement is also an option. A heated garage might work. Temperatures should be between 57 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you have space outdoors, you can choose to compost indoors during the winter and outdoors during the summer. In this case, a portable bin is ideal. Or, worms can be moved from an indoor composting bin to a larger outdoor bin during the warmer seasons.

Making free fertilizer, saving the environment and having a fun hobby are the main reasons people compost with worms. No matter why you want to compost, you can enjoy year-round success. Just get started! Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm has been breeding worms for more than 30 years, and our Red Composting Worms are ideal for this purpose. We also offer a selection of indoor composters and plenty of composting advice on our blog.

5 thoughts on “A Guide to Successful Indoor Composting with Worms

  1. I live in Minnesota and have great success composting with your worms. I’m starting g to have earwig problems. Do you have any tips for keeping earwigs out of the bin?

    1. Hello Frieda;

      Gnats are annoying and you can get rid of them by first removing any excess food or moisture in the bin that is causing any anaerobic conditions. Put a small cup of Apple Cider Vinegar next to the bin and they will fly into that and die off.

      Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm

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