In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
November, 2012
Regional Report

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This happy red wiggler worm is busy making beautiful compost.

Worms are Wonderful!

Have you ever thought about worms? I mean the wiggly ones who can convert coffee grounds, banana peels, and lettuce leaves into garden gold. Worm composting is becoming an immensely popular way to make good use of kitchen vegetable waste. Talk to your neighbors and friends and you will probably find one or two who are already doing vermicomposting (the fancy name for worm composting).

Use Worm Compost for Houseplants and Transplants
Worms turn your food scraps into dark, crumbly compost that is a nutrient- and enzyme-rich fertilizer with endless uses. You can use a tablespoon as top dressing for houseplants. In the garden, toss a cupful in the hole as you transplant your tomatoes.

Faster, Bigger Seedlings
Research shows that plants fertilized with worm compost grow faster and larger in the same amount of time as plants that are fertilized with commercial fertilizer. Use it in your seed-starting mix, or make a tea-bag of compost, steeping it ito brew a valuable liquid fertilizer.

Store in the Kitchen
It's not hard to get started with vermicomposting, and the best part is that the worm bin can be kept in a closet, under the kitchen sink, or in the basement. There is no odor to a properly maintained bin, and the worms are afraid of light so they will stay warm and cozy in their worm home.

Use Red Wigglers
The worms that do this wonderful task are red wiggler worms. These can be purchased on-line, at some local retailers, or from bait shops. If you have a friend who is composting this way, ask if you can have a cupful of worms to get you started. Don't be tempted to visit the backyard and dig up night crawlers or earthworms. They are solitary worms and can't live in captivity, so they will promptly leave if you bring them indoors.

Construct a Bin and Get Started
You can construct your own bin out of two plastic storage bins or you can purchase ready-made worm "condos" with multiple trays. However you decide to do it, make bedding of shredded, dampened newspaper, sawdust, dried grass clippings, or anything biodegradable to start off with a good nest. Then add your worms and begin feeding them a daily diet of fruits, vegetables, grains, and shredded paper. Before you know it, you will be the proud owner of a bin full of delicious compost.

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