In March of 2019 I decided to finally start a small vegetable garden at our home outside of Cashion, OK. As with most things in my life, if I start on something small, it snowballs into a frenzy of activity. Starting with two simple 6’ x 3’ beds morphed into four beds and a small composting operation.
I was planning on a standard composting bin to collect our food scraps and all the cardboard boxes. A way to break down some material and keep it from going to the landfill with everything else. Soon I realized we were going to need a much larger compost operation since I was collecting scraps from my work lunches as well. Enjoying a salad and vegetables every day for lunch and then again in the evening filled the bins much faster than planned.
This excess material sent me researching different ways people were handling their compost. I stumbled onto the idea of vermi-composting. Using Red Wiggler Worms to break down certain food waste and create worm castings. These castings can then help boost soil fertility in the raised beds. Organic worm castings are about $10 per 2lb bag.
I found three 10 gallon plastic totes and lined them with coco-coir, & sand. Every week I would load the bins with vegetable, fruit, paper and cardboard scraps. It took about a week for the worms to get busy once I received them from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm. This system would absorb about 80% of my composting needs. Breaking down a lot of our food scrap, leaving small quantities to go into the traditional compost bin outside.
Everything seemed to be working fine until we went on vacation in early July. I don’t know if it was the hot temperatures or if the bins became too acidic or moist. When we returned home and I went to restock the bins, I learned that the worms had left for greener pastures. I plan to revisit this idea over the winter and find a better way to control moisture levels in the bins when I am not around.
The process still brought us roughly 30 pounds of worm castings which was a great return. If there is anyone looking to experiment with composting, I would encourage them to give this idea a look. I am not advocating a complete worm farm operation. A couple pounds of worms can grow to take on a single family’s compost needs. From there, the sky is the limit!