My Frugal Life: Composting Indoors

I enjoy reading the essays from ThriftyFun each week. Sometimes the ideas or tips are something I already knew (but needed to be reminded of), other times, it's a fabulous new idea for me to try. With all new ideas, I make a point to weigh the amount my time that they will cost against the benefits.


Here is just one thing that I have been trying around my house this year: I started an indoor composting worm bin, which I keep in our basement. It sounds kind of gross, but for me the motivation was twofold: 1) to deal with the food waste our family generates in the winter without having to trek outside in the cold and 2) to have a steady supply of worms to feed our turtle (her "store-bought" food is $10 for a small container).

Our solid waste management district educator ( gave me a book called, "Worms Eat My Garbage" (you can find it on to help me get started. It was pretty easy and cheap, only a Rubbermaid-type bin and some shredded newspapers to get started. I cleared out an area that was about 2 feet by 3 feet on a table in the corner of our basement that was out of the way.


And, then the worms--you have to use a specific kind called red wigglers-- they had to be ordered on-line and were the most expensive part of the endeavor, about $25 for a pound. However, knowing what I know now, I would have put out a local request on Facebook or Craig's List, because folks who are using worm bins usually are willing to give some away to help you get started. Since they reproduce rapidly, it is possible to double your worms in a very short time.

I am frequently asked if it smells bad to have all the rotting food in my basement. It actually doesn't smell at all. You just have to make sure you put plenty of newspaper shred in on top of your food waste each time you add more. If it does smell, that's just a sign that you aren't doing something right.


I also found that the shredded paper could be from bills, statements, and junk mail, which made me feel like some use was being gotten from things I don't like to get in the mail. My turtle is eating what she likes best at no cost to me (after the initial purchase of worms are "paid off") and the food scraps don't require me going out in the cold anymore.

Lastly, the worm by-product is an amazing plant food! The house plants are happy, full and green. As for our garden starts, this stuff is truly a miracle growing formula!

By Jill from Franklin, IN

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July 11, 20110 found this helpful

Thanks so much for sharing, Jill. I have often contemplated starting a worm bin, but the ewww factor has always kept it at bay.I have seen offers on FreeCycle in my area for start up worms, I think this is something i will try this fall.


Thanks & God Bless.
Trish in CT

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February 9, 20140 found this helpful

My son in law was going to burn a wooden box that had a lid. I had him drill a few air holes and do the same thing. Well it turned out he took it one step further. He not only had some good black soil and fertilizer going on, he also had worms reproducing to the point he was selling the worms for fishing. He made out like a bandit!

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