Startup Instructions

Composting with worms:
  • Has reduced foul smell and pests.
  • Provides a convenient method for converting kitchen vegetable wastes into a rich organic fertilizer for house and garden plants.
  • Raises worms for fishing.
  • Reduces waste disposal costs.

Step 1: Make or Get a Worm Bin

Wood, plastic and metal boxes or tubs may be used. The plastic containers shown are modified Rubbermaid storage containers. The container should be 8 to 12 inches deep and of a size to accommodate the amount of food waste you produce. Approximately one square foot of surface area is needed for each pound of kitchen vegetable wastes per week. For example, a 2-foot by 3-foot box will serve a family of 4 to 6 people producing approximately six pounds of food waste per week. Detailed Instructions (PDF) for constructing an OSCR Jr. type of bin are available on our website, and more help may be obtained through Klickitat County Solid Waste by calling 509-773-4448.

Step 2: Bedding

Bedding can be made of shredded newspaper, shredded office paper, shredded corrugated cardboard, peat moss, or leaf mold. Bedding must be moist. Ideally if you squeeze a handful of moist bedding you will be able to make water appear around the edges but you should only be able to squeeze a drop or two out of it. If you can squeeze more than a couple of drops out then it is too wet. Bedding holds moisture and provides a medium in which the worms can live. The bedding must allow air exchange so it must not be too dense or the particles too fine. Worms actually consume bedding as well as the kitchen vegetable wastes. You may want to add a handful of dirt when you first load the bin. The worm's digestive system uses small rocks to help grind the food waste much like gravel in a chicken's gizzard.

Step 3: Add Worms

Red worms (Eisenia Fetida) are the most common worm to use for composting. The worms need adequate temperature, moisture and ventilation. The optimum temperature is from 55 - 77 degrees Fahrenheit. An active worm bin must be kept in a heated garage or basement during the winter to prevent freezing. The worm population increases (or decreases) according to how well they are fed. To determine the number of worms needed to populate a bin, figure one pound of worms for each pound of kitchen vegetable wastes produced per day. Worms can process as much as their own body weight in organic matter each day under optimum conditions. Under less than optimum conditions they will consume half their weight per day.

Kitchen food waste suitable for composting in a worm bin includes vegetable and fruit scraps, egg shells, bread products, coffee grounds and tea leaves. Meat, bones, fats, and dairy products should not be composted. You can also throw in paper towels and coffee filters. It may be helpful to keep a plastic container near the kitchen sink to collect scraps. Keeping it uncovered will help prevent odor but may attract fruit flies. About twice a week, the contents can be spread over the surface of the worm bin and covered with fresh bedding. If rapid evaporation causes the food and bedding to dry out before microbes can begin to grow on it then you can reduce evaporation by adding sheet of plastic over the working surface of the compost bin.

Where to Purchase Worms

Trout Lake School
31 Little Mountain Road
Trout Lake, WA 98650-9799
Phone: 509-395-2571
Fax 509-395-2399

Call for price and availability when school is in session. Ask for Katy McKinney, Recycling Coordinator.

Dan Holcomb
Oregon Soil Corporation

1324 Beaver Lane
Oregon City, OR 97045
Phone: 503-557-9742
Fax 503-650-1774


To Raise Fish Bait Worms

To raise fish bait worms, use this Worm Fattening Recipe from Reln Plastics Pty. Ltd.:
  • Agricultural lime or dolomite: 10%
  • Bran or wheat meal: 20%
  • Chicken layers pellets: 50%
  • Powdered whole milk: 10%
  • Wheat or corn flour: 10%

Mix ingredients together, and sprinkle lightly on the food waste every couple of days.