Worm Composting Is a Hit With Kids

Let red wiggler worms turn your kitchen scraps into gardening gold

You shop at the farmers’ market religiously and buy all the right greens and veggies to make a meal bursting with vitamins and minerals for your family. But it’s not always easy raising a child who loves fruits, veggies, and salads—so consider adding a fascinating science lesson to your tactics. All you need is a few thousand wiggly worm friends to eat your kitchen scraps—waste that would normally go into the trash and, ultimately, the landfill. For kids, worm composting gives food preparation a special mission: The worms must be fed!

Worm composting is also known as vermiculture, and it produces worm castings. In kid parlance, that’s “worm poop.” This nutrient-rich organic matter and soil conditioner is the perfect organic food for your plants, indoors and out. Harvest the liquid (worm tea) from the compost, and dilute it with water to offer your garden an extra dose of fertilizer. It will promote strong, healthy plants that are resistant to disease, without chemical fertilizers.

I have maintained a four-level worm bin just outside my kitchen door for five years, and the hardest part of getting started was opening the box. I now have more worm castings and worm tea than I can use, so I usually pack up the castings into Ziploc bags, pour the tea into bottles, and give them as gifts, along with seedlings that sprout in my compost pile.

A well-designed worm composter has a few key features: It has a secure lid, ventilation holes, is made of opaque material, and of course includes worms. Check out groworganic.com for a ready-made, deluxe worm bin kit. It comes with everything you need to get started, except worms, which you buy separately. Prefer to do it yourself? Find step-by-step instructions at redwormcomposting.com.

Keep these things in mind for successful composting, indoors or out:

  • The best worms for composting are called red wigglers. According to Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply, a store and mail-order business in Grass Valley, one or two pounds of the mature red worms can convert 3.5 to 7 pounds of food scraps into castings in one week.
  • Newspaper provides cover. Shred or tear your newspaper into strips and place a fluffy layer of it on top to cover food scraps and discourage flies. Use the paper on the bottom to provide bedding for the worms.
  • Keep it moist. A spray bottle or a fine mist from the hose is all you need to keep your wigglers moisturized and on the move.
  • Worms prefer a vegetarian diet. Don’t add cheese or meat scraps. Feel free to toss in cereal, grains, and rinsed, crushed eggshells. If possible, chop up your vegetable waste prior to adding it to your bin, to speed up the composting process.

Jessica Iclisoy is the founder of California Baby, a natural skincare line for babies, kids, and sensitive adults. Visit her website at californiababy.com.