Why Compost? There are many reasons to compost. USDA estimates that food waste is the single largest component of municipal landfills. Food waste quickly generates methane, helping to make landfills the third largest source of methane in the United States.

Shadyside Worms composts food scraps that would normally go to the landfill. Composting is the process breaking down organic material to create a product that any garden store would be happy to have. The compost we offer is worm castings.

What are worm castings? Worm castings are the digestive product of worms. They are called castings because of their fundamental shape. Shadyside Worms uses eisenia fetida.

How do I use the worm castings? Worm castings are best used as an organic fertilizer.

  • They can be applied directly to almost any plant in your home or garden.
  • Unlike synthetic fertilizers, worm castings provide essential nutrients without burning your plants.
  • Worm castings are easy to use. Let Shadyside Worms teach you how to use them appropriately.

What is the difference between worm castings and compost?

Compost is organic matter that has decomposed in a way that promotes beneficial organisms and nutrients. Most compost can be used to fill garden beds or planters without excess nutrient waste.

Worm castings are a type of compost. They do not take the place of soil, but instead act as a fertilizer because of their high concentration of available nutrients.


What is your service area for the compost exchange? Right now our service area is the east end of Pittsburgh. We are in the process of updating our maps. Let us know where you live and we can confirm.

Can I donate my food scraps for you to compost? Unfortunately when composting happens on a larger scale, there is a lot of labor and processing that goes on when turning your food waste or lawn scraps into compost. Our compost exchange offers a great way for you to dispose of your food scraps, at a great price, and when you are eligible for your compost, just let us know where you want it to go and we will get it there!

…yeah but, aren’t you just letting the food rot anyway?
Our methods of composting break down the material in an active process, turning and oxygenating the material at specific times, making sure the proper microbes are present in the compost as it breaks down, and making sure weed seeds and pathogens are eliminated through proper curing phases. We always encourage customers to schedule a time to tour our facility and learn more about soil science!

Won’t my compost bucket smell? The buckets we provide for your food scrap have a lid with a rubber gasket and four snaps to seal it up. We also include a biodegradable liner with some already shredded paper scrap, and some used coffee grinds in the bottom to make sure the odors never get too bad. Along with these precautions we also provide information on how to prevent other bad odors, fruit flies, and other pests. As a last resort, we also offer next day pickup in case you need a clean bucket.

What is the compost I get in return?  The worm castings are a great organic fertilizer. They can be soaked to make compost tea, or spread around the base of any plant. Our worm compost potting soil mix is a blend of worm castings and other growing medium to make a soil you can use in pots, or for starting seeds. Both kinds are tested for nutrient levels and pH to make sure you have a quality product.


What is vermiculture?

This term is used by some to describe the overall ecosystem involved when composting using worms. The term vermiculture can refer to the scientific aspect of a worm ecosystem(moisture content, temperatures, nutrients, etc.) as well as the overall ecology between gardeners, their waste products, and their worms.

I thought you said vermicompost? Vermicompost refers to the end product specific to worms, also called worm castings, or as we love to call it- “worm poo”. This is the compost we are looking for. It differs from compost made from a compost pile using heat, or compost that uses special bacteria for fermentation, but compares closely in its application-  naturally made fertilizer that holds the necessary nutrients to help plants grow and reproduce.

I’ve been meaning to start composting on my own, can Shadyside Worms help? Absolutely. In Western Pennsylvania vermiculture can be incredibly beneficial, but also very difficult. As we’ve stated before, a proper composting system is suited to the needs of the composter/gardener whether it be the amount of food scraps you produce, how much space or time you have, etc. Our goal is to help you find the best solution for your needs. If you are looking to compost, our suggestion would be to contact us through e-mail(shadysideworms@gmail.com), or come down to Shadyside Nursery on weekends starting in April. We would love to help out.