Reader Questions – 07-14-08

Here is a question from someone wondering about apartment vermiculture.

I recently moved into a new apartment and have been wanting to start
some kind of gardening project. I am an avid fisherman and would like
to know if it would be possible to breed worms within my apartment or
possibly in the small area I have available outside. I’m living in
Southern Illinois; to give you some idea of the climate situation. My
biggest concern is not so much space but odor, I really can’t afford
to loose my deposit!

Thanks so much,

Hi Ryan,
The the short answer is absolutely YES! You can most certainly raise worms in your apartment – in fact, one of the key advantages of vermicomposting over some of the other typical composting methods is that it can be done on any scale. There are many apartment dwellers who have opted to divert some of their food waste into a worm bin, rather than throwing it in the garbage.

It’s important to mention that there are only certain types of worms you can easily raise in your apartment however. For example, the big ‘Canadian Nightcrawlers’ that many people use for fishing cannot be raised very easily indoors – they are deep soil burrowers, and thus need a lot of space (and prefer lower temps).

Likely the most common worm used for indoor vermicomposting (and outdoor vermicomposting, for that matter) is the Red Worm (Eisenia fetida). These worms will happily feed on your rotting fruit/vegetable waste, and coffee grounds – among numerous other things. Red Worms can be used for fishing, but are probably best suited for smaller fish, such as trout or panfish. In my humble opinion, the ultimate composting/fishing worm would likely be the European Nightcrawler (Eisenia hortensis). They have the larger size, so are more versatile as a fishing worm than Red Worms, but possess similar composting abilities as their smaller cousin (although some would argue that they are somewhat slower to process wastes and not as prolific in the breeding department).

If odor is your biggest concern, then you shouldn’t have all that much to worry about. When done properly (not very difficult), vermicomposting does not produce foul odors. It’s always a good idea to use lots of ‘bedding’ materials (shredded cardboard, newsprint etc) and to bury the waste materials you add to the bin. It’s also very important to avoid overfeeding the worms, since this is probably the easiest way to create a stink!

If you are looking for some instructions on how to set up a worm bin, be sure to check out my video page (I have a couple videos devoted to the topic – located near bottom of page).

Hope this helps!

[tags]worm bin, vermicomposting, worm composting, composting, red worms, red wigglers, european nightcrawlers, earthworms, worms[/tags]

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