In two months, eight hermaphroditic redworms will reproduce to a community of 1500 and will be well on their way to transforming your coffee grounds, egg shells and vegetable scraps into nitrogen rich compost, all without stinking up your kitchen.
Master composter Adam Edell showed participants how to make worm bins for their home composting use, using red worms, a kind of worm that lives in the litter above the dirt, as opposed to the deeper layers of soil. Their shallow lifestyle makes redworms perfect for breaking up kitchen scraps in dark, aerated plastic bins, but to get going in their new habitat they need a three inch bedding of shredded newspaper. Adam suggests papers like the Times, that use soy-based ink instead of chemical, and that you avoid glossy pages and rich, dark inks all together. Check out the video below for his rip, fluff, dip, squeeze, fluff, toss method of preparation in the video below.
He gave participants a cornucopia of useful knowledge. It turns out that red worms have gizzards, like chickens, and like chickens they need to swallow some harder material (like egg shells) in order to help them break up other, softer foods, so include both crushed and relatively whole egg shells in your compost, since they also like to curl up inside the egg shells and next there. I also learned what those thick, un-segmented sections on worms are for, a thing that I have always wanted to know. It turns out they’re called saddles, and they’re how worms reproduce (they rub them together, as most animals are wont to do).
Down below, find another video, where Adam shows us what a healthy compost bin looks like, with castings and partly decomposed food, and his cone method for sifting the worms out of the compost (the words crawl down away from the light! Funny how these little invertibrate gardeners are the opposite of flowers that way). If you don’t sift out the worms, they’ll reproduce with their incredible effectiveness in your neighborhood ecosystem, to which they aren’t likely to be indigenous. But if you’re willing to be patient with your redworms, you’ll have gorgeous, nutirient-rich compost to feed your plants mixed in with soil, or steep in water until it reaches a dark brown coffee color and spray on their leaves.