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Vermont Garden Journal: Vermicomposting

A vermicomposting bin with a lid works best, because worms don't like light.

I was at a friend's house recently when he received a package in the mail marked “live animals”. Curious I asked what live animal was being shipped to Vermont in November, he replied “worms”. Yes, he and his wife are setting up a worm composting bin. 

Vermicomposting is a great way to decompose veggie and fruit scraps in winter. While we can keep adding kitchen scraps to a frozen compost pile, the worms will work 24/7 under your kitchen sink or in your basement turning banana peels, broccoli trimmings and coffee grounds into compost in about 3 months. Here's how to get started.

Either buy a commercial vermicomposting bin or make one yourself using a 12 inch deep, opaque, plastic storage container with a lid. Worms don't like light. The larger the bin, the more compost you can produce. Drill holes 3 inches apart on the sides of the bin. If you drill holes on the bottom, too, you'll need a basin to catch draining water. The initial bedding should be a high carbon material such as shredded newspaper, paper bags or cardboard. Mix in a few handfuls of finished compost, sharp sand and crushed eggshells to fill the bin to 1/2 way. Now add your worms. The best are red wigglers ordered through the mail like my friend did. Worms like a moist environment so soak your bedding materials before adding them to the bin, wringing out any excess water. Calculate how many worms you'll need. A two person household will need about 1 pound or 1000 worms, while a 4 person household will need 2 to 3 pounds. After one week, start feeding your worms and listen for their munching in the kitchen. Just kidding!

And now for this week's tip, protect overwintering carrots and parsnips in the garden by piling a 1 to 2 foot deep layer of hay or straw over the bed. The hay will insulate the bed enough so the ground doesn't freeze solid, allowing you to harvest roots all winter.

Next week on the Vermont Garden Journal, I'll be talking about growing microgreens. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.

Broadcast on Friday, November 21, 2014 at 5:57 p.m. and Sunday, November 23, 2014 at 9:35 a.m.

The Vermont Garden Journal with Charlie Nardozzi is made possible by Gardener's Supply, offering environmental solutions for gardens and landscapes. In Burlington, Williston and

Compostingwith Worms
Worm Composting

Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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