At the Frick Environmental Center, we rely on a slimy critter to help us reduce our waste and fertilize our gardens: worms!
If you’ve explored the Center, you may have noticed our wooden worm bin on the lower level. This bin is where vermi-composting takes place. Vermi-composting uses the power of worms to transform waste into usable, nutrient-rich soil. Our old worm bin was a bit lack-luster, so we’ve built them a brand new home!
Our new and improved worm bin -- carefully crafted by intern Hallie Dufour and Facilities Manager Reed Hoffmier -- is the perfect place for vermi-composting to take place. Here’s how it works:
- First, a bedding medium, such as shredded cardboard, dry leaves and grass, straw, or hay, is laid. This serves as the foundation for the worms and gives them a place to get started.
- Next, compostable waste is added to the bin. We have to be careful about what we feed the worms, because certain foods, such as meat, dairy, and garlic are harmful to them. In general, fruits and veggies are best for the worms. They also enjoy coffee grounds, tea leaves, small pieces of brown paper, and small amounts of carbs. Foods that are healthy for you are healthy for the worms.
- Once there’s a source of food for the worms, it’s time to get them in the bin! The worms used for vermi-composting are Eisenia fetida, commonly known as redworms. These worms are a different species than most worms you would dig up in your backyard and are experts at turning waste into soil.
- Lastly, the contents of the bin are covered with a layer of newspaper. This helps the bin stay moist, which is important to keep the worms active and healthy. If the bin gets dry, we spray it lightly with water.
After a few months, the worms will turn most of the food scraps and bedding into castings, or worm droppings. These nutrient-rich castings can be used as fertilizer in gardens. To remove the castings, we push the worms to one side of the bin and add more bedding and food scraps to the empty side. In time the worms will naturally migrate to the fresh materials, and the castings can be removed. This is why our bin only has two sides -- one has worms, the other side is the space we use to harvest the castings.
Drop by the Center during open hours to read more about our worms and their work in our new bin on the middle level. Stop by and give our hard working worms the housewarming they deserve!