What can you do with earthworms? Some people use the creepy crawlers to catch fish. But others put worms to work making compost. Compost looks and feels like good soil. Gardeners and farmers add it to soil to make plants grow better. You can make compost from food waste at home with or without the help of worms. How the worms help is by first eating and processing the food. It comes out the other end of the worm as rich compost. Kim Gabel from the University of Florida Extension service in Key West says worms known as red wigglers are the best varieties to use. You need a container to hold the waste and the worms. The size of the composting bin depends on how much compost you want to make. You need about a kilogram of worms for each half a kilogram of daily food waste that you add.Kim Gabel says the bin needs holes so the worms can breathe. And they also like to be in the dark, so cover the bin to keep out the light. One thing worms do not like is very high temperatures. Kim Gabel lives in the warm climate of southern Florida. She keeps her worm bin indoors. Unpleasant smells can be prevented by controlling the amount of food waste added to the bin and avoiding meat or bones. For composting with worms, you need bedding that is moist but not too wet. The amount of water you add will depend on the bedding material you use. Kim Gabel uses newspaper cut into strips about two and a half centimeters wide. Add two handfuls of soil for every half square meter of bedding material and mix well. Spread the worms over the bedding. The worms will start to wiggle their way down. Remove any worms that remain on top of the bedding after two hours. When you feed the worms, place the food about two and a half centimeters below the surface of the bedding and cover it. The worm's waste, or castings, should be ready to use as compost within two to six months. To remove the compost, you can push it all to one side of the bin. Place new bedding and food on the other side. Within a few weeks the worms will move to the new bedding. Now you can remove the compost and fill the empty space with new bedding.
For VOA Special English, I'm Mario Ritter. For more gardening advice, and for more programs and activities for English learners, go to voaspecialenglish.com. We're on Facebook, Twitter and iTunes at VOA Learning English.