Usually people set up their own worm bin at home so they can compost their food scraps and leftovers. Unfortunately not all waste materials are created equal from a worm’s standpoint (or a human health standpoint for that matter), so we should talk a little about what should and should not be added to an indoor worm bin.
- Vegetable & fruit waste (citrus fruit should be added in moderation when using smaller bins)
- Starchy materials – bread, pasta, rice, potatoes – all in moderation (beginners may want to avoid these altogether initially)
- Aged animal manures (careful with rabbit and poultry – need lots of bedding to balance)
- Shredded newspaper, used paper towels (common sense applies here), cardboard (great idea to add these carbon rich materials at the same time you add any wet food waste)
- Egg shells (best if ground up and in moderation)
- Coffee grounds
- Tea bags
- Human/pet waste
- Non biodegradable materials
- Harsh chemicals
These are fairly basic guidelines and of course there are exceptions under certain circumstances. I will definitely be going into much more detail in later articles.
Something I alluded to in the previous section was the fact that letting your waste material sit for a period of time is better than adding it right away. Often people assume that the worms feed directly on the waste materials themselves. In a sense they do, but more specifically they are slurping up the microbial soup that forms on rotting materials. If you throw in a bunch of fresh carrot peelings the worms won’t be able to start processing the material until sufficient microbial colonization has occured.
As I mentioned above, a fantastic way to ensure that your new bin takes off successfully is to mix a decent quantity of waste material in with your fresh bedding, then simply letting the bin sit for a week or so before adding the worms. I know this can be a challenge for those people anxious to get started, but it will go a long way in terms of ensuring your success.
Should you choose not to wait (obviously if you get your worms at the same time you get your bin it doesn’t make sense to wait) I would highly recommend that you at least try to add some partially rotting materials so that the worms have something to feed on.
I like to keep food waste in an old milk carton that sits under my sink. Aside from the convenience of not needing to take it down to the basement (where my indoor bins are located) or outside (to my outdoor bin) multiple times per day, this also allows time for microbial colonization of the materials – and don’t worry, you won’t have a stinky mess in your container if you do it properly