The idea of creating compost in your back yard is as simple as the execution:
Put a few worms in a worm box, then proceed to feed them table scraps (no dairy, fat or meat). In a couple of weeks, drain off the excess liquid for a powerful fertilizer.
In just a couple of months, you can use the new soil created by the composted material in your garden.
Worms are also good in the garden, because their excrement is high in nitrogen, plus they aerate soil by tunneling. That improves tilth and allows water and air to get to plants' roots.
You'll need a large, solid plastic tub (not see-through) with a lid. Shoot for a tub 30 gallons or larger.
Next, drill holes along the sides of your worm bin. You'll want these to be about 1/4 inch from the bottom for drainage. Poke a few air holes near the top as well.
Layer newspaper inside approximately 4-inches thick. Spray the papers with water until they are damp, but not soggy.
Now it's time to add some garden soil to the mix. Three or four handfuls should do it. You'll find garden soil at home gardening stores.
Add in small, chopped up kitchen food scraps. Chopped foods decompose faster than bigger pieces.
Now, all that's missing are the worms. Red wigglers are the best. You can usually buy them at garden centers. (Don't use nightcrawlers, the worms sold for bait.)
Continue adding table scraps to your worm bin weekly. Keep the soil moist but not wet. (If it starts to smell, it's too wet.)
To keep flies from laying eggs on them, be sure to cover scraps with
soil. Also add more paper or yard scraps each week.
Now that everything's ready to go, you'll need some where shady to store it. A basement or a garage work well for this purpose.
When you're ready to add the final organic product to your garden, separate the worms out first so they can continue their work for you.
The easiest way is to spread the contents of the box on a plastic garbage bag on the driveway on a sunny day. Cover half the soil with a box to shade it.
The worms will crawl to the shady part. (Because your box is sitting on lumpy soil there are small raised areas for the worms to, well, worm their way out.)
Your lovely compost is now food for your garden, and will help improve soil structure, maintain moisture levels, and your garden soil's pH balance in check.
About the Author
Tara Aronson is a native Californian. Having grown up in San Diego, she studied journalism and Spanish to pursue a career in newspaper writing. Tara, whose three children - Chris, Lyndsay, and Payne - are the light of her life, now lives and writes in Los Angeles. She also regularly appears on television news programs throughout the U.S.