Vermiculture Worm Bin

I’ve recently started composting kitchen veggie scraps with my lovely and voracious friends, the eisenia fetida (redworm). They are going to take the “veggie trash” and make very rich castings and compost for my garden and houseplants. I have an outdoor compost pile, but this is easy and fun and I get to have squirmy little pets do the work for me… it’s a win-win situation.

Let me tell you what I did. I got 2 inexpensive totes from the local store (any totes will do as long as they have one well fitting lid for the top one – black or opaque is usually best).

Husband's Drill

Husband's Drill

Then I snagged husband’s drill. He doesn’t like me to use power tools for some reason. He seems to think I will hurt myself.. lol. He’s probably right, but I’m gonna give it a try and we just won’t tell him about this. Okay? Cool. It will be our little secret.

Holes around the top

Holes around the top

In the 1st tote I drilled holes about 4″ down all around the sides of the tote. You can see I can’t drill in a straight line. In fact, husband might be right about me being dangerous with power tools.

Holes in the bottom

Holes in the bottom

I also drilled holes in the bottom so that excess water and ‘worm tea’ can drain out as needed. Worm tea can be used anytime to give a boost to houseplants or in your garden.

Worm Bedding

Worm Bedding

Then I made up some worm bedding. Strips of b&w newspaper, cardboard and cardboard eggshell cartons (the cardboard ones), are all readily available. I also added some garden soil (not potting mix), and some crushed eggshells (I included a few partial shells because I’m told the worms like to curl up in them sometimes). I wet it all down so that it is about as damp a a sponge that has been squeezed out. Cow or horse manure can also be used to lighten bedding and absorb excess moisture. Mix it all up and you’re ready to go. After a few months, the bedding and the food are eaten by the worms and turned into dark worm compost. Yeah!!!

My 2 tub worm bin

My 2 tub worm bin

Now I’ve put the tote I didn’t put holes in under the 2nd tote. You can do it this way or just put an extra lid under the 2nd tote to catch the worm tea, it’s up to you. I did put a couple of small pots in the lower tote to raise up the worm bin to be sure that oxygen is circulating.

 

Worms in Place

Worms in Place

I know, I know, it looks yucky, but it’s really not.

Then I added some worms. You can see their little red wormy bodies in the middle of the coffee grounds (which they LOVE). They can be found in old compost piles, but are different from the earthworms you would normally find in the ground. These worms have a big appetite, reproduce quickly and thrive in confinement. They can eat more than their own weight in food every day! When purchasing red worms, one pound is all you need to get started. I got my worms from WormyWorms.com .

But if you have access to a horse or cow manure pile you can get some for just a bit of digging the manure and carrying it to your tote. Another idea is to put a piece of wet cardboard under a shady tree for a couple of nights and gather them in the morning – it can be even easier.

As time goes on, I’ll be feeding the worms

  • All fruits and vegetables (including small amounts of citrus and other “high acid” foods)
  • Vegetable and fruit peels and ends
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Tea bags
  • Plate scrapings, stale bread
  • Leaves and grass clippings (not sprayed with pesticides)
  • Lettuce trimmings

I will avoid meat, onions, dairy or oily items. Other than that, pretty much anything.

At first I’ll only feed a little at a time. But they will start to multiply and I’ll be able to add larger quantities of food waste. Make a hole in the bedding and drop the food in it and cover up with more bedding. Rotate around the bin (you can even mark your ‘place’ as move from spot to spot.

My bin is going to stay in my greenroom as the temps there are pretty moderate. The worms don’t do well when they get too hot or too cold.

This week I got to listen in on a conference call class on vermiculture hosted by FarmerPhoebe, who I had met via Twitter (what a crazy world it is now). Her guest was Chris McLaughlin, a long-time worm wrangler. The talk was informative and funny. We laughed and I got several of my questions answered so I’m confident that I can keep my worms going.

There is probably more to it if you are interested in having your own worm bin, but there is tons of info on the internet so don’t hesitate to check it out.

I will keep you posted on how the worms are doing, I’m definitely no expert, but I’m having fun with this.

Have fun!! – Ellen

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