When most people think composting, they think big, wooden bin outside. They think of needing to turn with a pitch fork and too much compost produced. If you have an apartment or few gardens, it’s overdoing it to do this sort of composting. However, there is another option other than letting food waste end up in a landfill. Why not try vermicomposting and get the kids involved? Call it worm composting for kids!
Vermicomposting is one of the easiest composting methods. There is little commitment – both in space and time required. Your kids will be excited to boast that they have worms inside!
Composting with worms depends on the digestive system of the wrigglers to break down food scraps. These are not the kind of worms from your yard or night crawlers bought for fish bait. The best species of worms to use in vermicomposting are Eisenia fetida, Eisenia andrei or Lumbricus rubellus.
In addition to worms, you also need a place to keep them in a moist bedding. Most vermicomposters find that using a plastic or rubber bin that fits on the counter or under the sink works the best. Find a spot that the kids can access easily. Worm composting experts also report that shredded non-glossy newspaper or printer paper, cut up brown cardboard or dead leaves and grass work best for bedding. Even a toddler can help rip up paper and older kids can use the shredder, with supervision. There are many shops to buy vermicomposting supplies such as Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm or Rocky Mountain Worms. Have the kiddos help choose which bin your family will use.
Once your bin is set up, worms should be fed plant based food scraps as well as coffee grounds – their favorite. Worms will not eat meat, eggs or egg shells, fats, dairy products or oil. After munching on the scraps, the wrigglers will produce castings – poop! – which is similar to soil in texture and color. It’s your call if you tell the kids that not only do you have worms in your kitchen, you also have worm poop in your kitchen! Teach your children how to add apple cores, wilted lettuce or leftover veggies to the bin.
Additionally, a liquid – leachate – will also be formed that can be used as a fertilizer. Dilute it before watering plants with ten parts water to one part leachate. You did already give your toddler his own watering can, right?
If your worm bin is a bit smelly, don’t add any scraps for a week or so. The worms are having a hard time keeping up with the food you are feeding them! Also, it is best to keep a layer of castings on top of scraps you add to deter bugs.
Worm composting for kids is a great way to boost the happiness of your house plants or gardens. Children will learn about food waste and flowers while your family keeps it green without a huge commitment. Way to multi-task!