Monday, August 8, 2011

Making our first worm bin

I made our first vermicomposting (worm) bin yesterday and I am going to show you how I did it. 

Supplies Needed:
2 storage containers, with lids
a drill
brown paper bags (or other shredded no glossy paper for bedding)
red wriggler worms

Ready to get started
I drilled lots of holes in the bottom of one of the containers for drainage and air flow
Container with holes goes inside of the bin without holes
I also drilled lots of  holes in the lid that I will use on top of the bin

Worms like dark so I wrapped the exterior bin with paper bags, next time I will use bins that aren't clear

I want our worms to know they're loved so I named about 10% of them and decorated their house a little
I cut strips of paper bags from a grocery store that claims to use 100% recycled paper and only vegetable based ink for the bedding
I happened to have quite a few paper bags on hand but you can use any type of paper to make the bedding as long as it's not shiny. Shredded cardboard or well composted cow manure also make good bedding material for worms. The bedding should not be too dry, or too wet.

I watered mine a little and then wrung it out
It felt like a damp sponge at this point
The bedding should be about 6 to 8 inches thick. I knew my worms already had a few inches of bedding in the bag I bought them in so my paper bedding is about 3 or 4 inches thick.

Our beautiful worms in the material they came in, I put it all in the bin on top of the paper.
We got our worms from Walter Anderson Nursery.

A mix of coffee grounds, filters, and kitchen veggie scraps make for our worms first meal.
I dug into the corner of the bin to put the food scraps in 
Then I covered it up
I may have made a mistake in feeding it right away, I think I was suppose to give the worms a chance to get settled first. I started with a small amount of food in just one corner so hopefully we'll be okay.

I added some cardboard on top to help block light and to keep fruit flies away

Now our bin is ready to go to its home in our garage
We decided our garage would be the best place for our bin because it is the most climate controlled place on our property and stays dark. I am concerned about ants getting to our worms though because ants will murder worms. I came up with an idea that I hope will protect my sweet worms from being attacked by ants.

I happen to have a huge bottle of dish soap handy and I will use some of it to make an ant trap around my bin
I mixed about 75% soap and 25% water for my trap

And then I used the other lid as a base to put my bin on.
I took my soap and water solution and poured it in the groove around the outer edge of the lid. The idea is that any ants that try to crawl into our bin will get stuck in the soap mote before they are able to get into the bin.

Here is the finished product.
I am going to leave the garage light on for a week or so because worms are known to make a run for it after being disturbed but the light receptors in their skin are sensitive so they won't leave if there is a light on outside of their box.

A worm bin is a great way to quickly process food scraps into rich and nutritious plant food. The liquid that seeps through into the bottom container will make a nice concentrate for "worm tea" and the castings (worm poop) inside the bin after the worms do their thing for a few months make a fantastic soil amendment for your organic garden. You can also make worm tea with the castings.

I will feed my worms on a weekly basis and I'll update soon to let you know how it's going. Please share any tips you may have for me if you are a more experienced vermicomposter than me.

"Worms? Seriously? This is ridiculous. I want RABBITS!"

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