I finally feel like I’ve got the hang of this whole kitchen vermicomposting thing. The first few months require patience because you put your worms in their bedding (I used coir), which they slooooowly eat, and then you start feeding them their preferred diet of veggie scraps, coffee grounds, banana peels and more until you’ve got a layer of finished compost. Once you’re up and running, you have three layers going at the same time. The top layer is for fresh scraps and the two lower layers are still full of worms, but are further along.
When you want to use the bottom layer of finished compost, you move it to the top and remove the lid. In a day or two, the light and air drives the worms into your covered “fresh” layer below so what you end up with is pure compost ready to use in the garden.
It’s so great to empty out the crisper bin of the fridge knowing that unused veggies aren’t a total waste. Ok, so we ignored that broccoli or that bag of mixed baby greens. All is not lost! It’s compost!
One temporary nuisance was the arrival of fruit flies. Opening the bin felt like I’d been visited by a plague of very tiny locusts. Luckily, the fruit flies don’t adversely affect the worms or the compost. They’re just annoying little… annoyances. Rotating the bin layers helps, as does adding a layer of bedding on top of the freshest kitchen scraps. If things get desperate, Gardener’s Supply sells a fruit fry trap. A much more economical solution is to make your own trap using the excellent online instructions by Dr. Vett Lloyd, Department of Biology, Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, Canada.
(March 6 update– I’ve been revisited by fruit flies and lept at the chance to make my own traps. Guess what? They work great! I put one on the counter near the bin and one in the bin. Both traps, using both designs shown in the above link, are filled with dead fruit flies in just two days! All it cost me was a little cider vinegar. I tried covering my scraps, but the flies kept hatching. Thank you, Dr. Lloyd!)
Overall, I’ve been very happy with my kitchen vermicomposting experience and plan to continue it indefinitely. Worms really are eating my garbage and giving me this amazing garden compost in return.