Book Review: Worms Eat My Garbage

>> Monday, August 24, 2009

Worms Eat My Garbage
by Mary Appelhof

Rating: *****


Appelhof's classic guide to vermicomposting is the definitive resource for anyone interested in starting a worm bin. Short and easy to read with clever illustrations, Worms Eat My Garbage includes information on what kind of container and worms to use, how to set up a worm bin, how to feed your worms, and how to harvest your compost. As a bonus, Appelhof also includes frequently asked questions about worms, including how they eat, poop, and reproduce. This is definitely the only book about vermicomposting you will ever need.

Here's just a sampling of the information in this book:

Why choose a worm bin?

  • Because of the worms' high rate of digestion, a worm bin can be much smaller than a regular compost bin, and you can keep it indoors, enabling you to compost year round. Composting allows you to turn your kitchen food waste into valuable fertilizer for your garden rather than adding it to a landfill. You can also save energy and water through composting by avoiding use of a garbage disposal.
What size container should I use?
  • "Plan on one square foot of surface for each pound of garbage per week."
How many worms do I need?
  • Appelhof recommends a 2:1 ratio of worms to garbage. In other words, you need 2 pounds of worms for every pound of garbage you produce a day.
What can I put in my worm bin?
  • Yes!....vegetables, fruits, coffee grinds, tea leaves, pulvarized egg shells
  • No!...too much citrus, meat, bones, feces, preferably no dairy (stinky and attracts flies, mice, ants, and rats)
How do I use my compost?
  • top dressing
  • transplants (sprinkle in the bottom of each hole)
  • seed beds (spread in a row)
  • potting soil (mix with peat moss, perlite, and sand or garden soil)
Note that this is just a tiny example of the information in Worms Eat My Garbage. I strongly recommend reading this book yourself if you are interested in worm bins.

My Opinion

This book was even better than I expected. It's a perfect introduction and guide to vermicomposting, and I now feel ready to get my worm bin started. Right now, the thing holding us back is the amount of newspaper we need. We don't subscribe to the local paper, so it's a matter of saving up the bits of junk newspaper that come in the mail. Appelhof says you can use regular printer paper but that newspaper works better, and since I've read of others who failed at vermicomposting, I want to make sure I do it right from the start. Would it be worth subscribing to the newspaper just to get paper for my worm bin? Or does anyone else know of a good source of newspaper?

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Alan David Doane August 24, 2009 at 6:20 PM  

I would think the free weeklies that seem to be rampant in every community would be a good, free source of newsprint. Check your local supermarkets or library to see if they carry any free papers.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper August 25, 2009 at 1:10 PM  

@Alan - Thanks for the suggestion. Next time I'm at the grocery store, maybe I'll just stock up. I wonder if there's a limit on how many free papers I could take?

Anonymous,  August 26, 2009 at 1:07 PM  

Do you have any neighbors who might pass some newspapers on to you? (I'm new to following your blog, so I have no idea what your neighbors are like.)


Erin aka Conscious Shopper August 26, 2009 at 8:20 PM  

@Kt - I don't know my neighbors very well yet (we just moved in a couple months ago), but it couldn't hurt to ask. Thanks!

Brenda Pike August 28, 2009 at 8:07 AM  

I can't say for sure that using regular paper was what did in our last worm bin, but changing to newspaper seems to have made a big difference. My coworkers give me theirs. Subscribing just for this seems a little counterintuitive...

Erin aka Conscious Shopper August 28, 2009 at 10:31 PM  

@Brenda - You're absolutely right about subscribing to the newspaper being counter intuitive. Right now, my husband is asking around at work to see if anyone gets the paper. If not, I'm going to go door to door to our neighbors houses. Thanks for the link! It's helpful to hear what others have done.

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