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WORM COMPOSTING - The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center’s Worm Composting System

An appropriate technology is a technology that satisfies a present need, and at the same time lessens or eliminates stress on the environment. A biological garbage disposal that utilizes worms is an appropriate technology that every kitchen needs.  Here’s what to do:


Fill a container 2”x2” deep, preferably made out of 3/4” plywood, with wet, shredded newspaper.  The newspaper should be shredded into 1/2”-wide strips, soaked in water, and wrung out until it stops dripping.

Add 1 pound of red worms. Other names for Eisenia foetida are manure worm or brandling worm.


 Then start adding your organic kitchen waste such as egg shells, coffee grounds, lettuce leaves, orange rinds, banana peels, etc. The worms will eat through the garbage and newspaper and you will have a nutrient-rich potting soil as your end product.


The worms will decrease the volume of the waste by 95%.  The process is aerobic so there will not be any odor.


 It will take the worms 2-3 months to eat through all the paper.  At this time you need to start over.


 Shine a light on the box; the worms will move from the potting soil.


You now have 2 pounds of worms instead of the one pound that you started with.  Take one pound to start your “garbage disposal” again, and give the other pound to your garden, neighbor or go fishing.  Everyone wins.

By using a worm box, you have kept your household garbage out of the landfill or waste water treatment plant.


You’ve not only reduced pollution, but you have also enhanced the environment with the potting soil.


Note: Not all turtles like red worms and I’ve found that the larger night crawlers (a favorite with all my carnivorous/omnivorous turtles) prefer a more “clay-like” substrate in which to burrow.  I have terra cotta plant pots placed in shaded areas around the yard.  By lifting these periodically I can harvest a variety of edibles for the turtles, including the ever-popular potato bug.  Be careful, though, not to confuse tiny newts and salamanders, which also live under the pots, with earthworms.  Check for eyes and tiny legs.  Earthworms have neither.


TIP:  If you purchase your night crawlers at a bait shop and store them in the refrigerator, turn the tubs over once each day; the nightcrawlers will burrow upwards each time and it allows them to behave naturally and, therefore, live long enough to make it to the turtles.

World Chelonian Trust

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Vacaville, CA


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