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Alice Hamrick 

University of California Master Gardener

New Times: What is worm composting?

Hamrick: It is using worms—red wigglers, the same used as fishing bait—to help break down kitchen scraps, which you put in a bin with the worms. As the scraps degrade, the worms eat the bacteria.

New Times
: How difficult is it to do?

Hamrick: There’s no work involved. You just throw in the scraps and the worms do all the work. It’s easy. If it’s not easy, you’re doing it wrong.

New Times: What are the advantages of using worms?

Hamrick: It keeps your kitchen waste out of landfills—which is important—while benefiting the soil. It can also be used to make worm compost ‘tea,’ which you can use to water plants. Also, it’s small, so you can do it anywhere; anyone can have a worm compost bin in the house.

New Times: What kinds of food scraps work best?

Hamrick: Practically anything from the kitchen; from vegetable cuttings, to fruit peels, to even teabags and coffee grounds.

New Times: Is worm composting just for gardeners?

Hamrick: No, not at all. It’s a great way to keep your scraps out of the landfills. And you can always donate your compost to a neighbor’s garden or even a school garden.

New Times: How many worms does the typical worm bin use?

Hamrick: Well, you can start out with a half of a pound to a pound, then they will multiply on their own. They’re a self-sustaining population. You’ll basically have as many worms as food you give them to eat. They turn around really quick. ∆

New Times: Describe the UC Master Gardeners.

Hamrick: We are a volunteer organization and a UCCE—a University of California Cooperative Extension for (San Luis Obispo) County. Our mission is to educate gardeners in sustainable and gardening techniques and resources, while promoting gardening.

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