Got worms? You should!

© 2017-Sublette Examiner

Have you ever come home from a trip to a fridge full of wilting greens, fuzzy berries or slimy lettuce?

According to the Natural Resource Defense Council, American households, on average, throw away approximately 25 percent of the food and drinks they purchase, making food waste the single largest component going into municipal landfills. When this waste begins to break down, it generates methane gas, which makes landfills the third largest source of methane in the United States.

Consumers tend to buy more than they can eat for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons include good sales we can’t pass up, a new elaborate recipe we want to try, or trying to cook for a larger family group. We have all done it! The rest of the waste is mostly made up of leftover kitchen scraps that occur after every meal.

There are a few options to decrease the amount of kitchen trash we are throwing away every week. This article is going to focus on one easy way that can be done inside the home and without much work, time or space!

Decomposers are all over this world. They are the tiny hidden workforce that cleans up and recycles dead materials (animal and plant) into recycled nutrients that end up back in the soil. We can harness the amazing power of decomposers in our own homes. You can decrease the amount of food waste in our landfills, while also producing some of the best fertilizer on the market!

In Pinedale, the climate can make composting outdoors difficult. Composting requires warmth and moisture for a longer period of time than our climate allows. You also need a lot more space to compost outside and the ability to turn the compost and add to it on a regular basis. However, you can compost kitchen leftovers year round indoors using some great decomposers called red wiggler worms!

Worm bins are easy to set up and are cheap to maintain. You can keep it simple or make it as fancy as you want. Something as simple as a plastic tub with holes drilled in it and some shredded newspaper and cocoa husk can get you started! Another option is a stackable bin with multiple trays, which allows the movement of worms to higher trays and a new food supply so the bottom tray can be harvested and used. No matter which kind of bin is used, while the worms are working through the food and digesting your leftover scraps, they will be producing vermicompost (worm castings) a very nutrient-rich fertilizer that can be used in Sublette county gardens, greenhouses and potted plants.

Worm castings are ultimately worm manure. As the worms digest your kitchen scraps, the nutrients are refined to their most usable form and the castings have a neutral pH of 7.0. According to the Planet Natural Research Center, as the worms digest, they are also adding their own beneficial microbes and bacteria to the finished product. Worm castings provide great nutrients to plants and can help keep soil more absorbent and increase plant growth and germination.

The list of items that can go into a worm bin is pretty long and it’s important to get a large variety of greens and browns to keep your worms happy. Some of the items that can be used to feed your bin include: veggies, fruits, starches and fibers like cardboard, newspaper, junk mail, dried leaves, etc. – even coffee grounds and filters can be used. Once the worms are happily munching away, they will begin to multiply over time making your vermicompost bin more efficient.

Having a worm bin is an affordable and easy way to recycle household organic material into nutrient-rich fertilizer. Vermicomposting is a full-circle nutrient cycle happening right inside your home that also helps to decrease the amount of food waste going into community landfills. Starting a bin can be a fun educational project for the whole family; the worms and your garden will thank you!

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