So you think you might wanna start a worm bin?
I personally think all homes should start a worm bin but I AM a wee but biased!
Worms need four essentials to thrive: bedding, moisture, oxygen and of course food! By maintaining a worm bin you can reduce the amount of waste you send to a landfill by nearly 30-40%! Not to mention have a great all natural fertilizer for your garden and a surplus of bait for that next fishing trip!
You will need a home for your new pets. You can simply go out and purchase a worm bin which can be costly or you can make one yourself. Getting started is easy and will not cost much. You quite possibly may have all the materials you need lying around the house.
For a basic bin you’ll need
- A Drill and a 1/4” drill bit.
- An opaque bin with a cover– something water resistant if using wood do not use anything pressure treated.
- A collection pan/ tray that is bigger than the bottom of your bin – this will catch excess moisture run off
- Four old small plastic food containers such as tupperware or gladware
- Bedding – such as shredded newsprint, phone books, coco coir, peat moss or torn up cardboard.
- 1 quart of water. If you have access to a lake, pond or a natural spring water defiantly use that! If not de-chlorinate tap water by gassing it off. Fill up a gallon jug of water and let it sit uncapped for 24 hours. While you only need a small amount to get the bin started you now have extra to spritz your bin with to keep them from drying out.
- A SMALL handful of soil from your backyard – kickstarts the all important microbial life
- 1 Tablespoon of pulverized egg shells – It will naturally assist with pH levels (I use a coffee grinder to pulverize mine)
- Red Wiggler composting worms – they are the most forgiving for a newbie worm wrangler
Now take your bin and make several 1/4” inch holes spaces about an inch apart around the bottom of the bin. Then approximately 1-2” from the TOP of the bin add several more holes around the diameter. The basic purpose for this is the bottom holes will provide drainage and the upper holes will allow the passage of oxygen into the bin.
Next add the bedding of choice and moisten with water. Add the water little at a time as you may or may not use all of it depending on bedding medium. The goal is to get the moisture level at the consistency of a damp sponge. To test this take a handful and squeeze if 2-3 drops are extracted then you are good to go!
Fluff up the bedding with your hands so it is not compacted. Then mix in your eggshell into your SMALL handful of soil and incorporate into the moistened bedding. The soil adds a small amount of microbial life to get the bin going and the eggshell will help with bin pH. Once the bedding is prepared add the composting worms. Keep the bin in a lighted area. Since they do not like light they will soon burrow down into the bedding.
We are almost done! Now Place your collection tray in the area you will be keeping the bin. Then take your 4 small containers and place them upside down in the corners of your tray. The bin you just created will sit on top of the four containers so you may need to do some adjusting depending on the size of your selected bin. Cover with damp burlap, cardboard or moistened un-shredded newsprint. This will assist in keeping the bin damp.
Place the cover on your bin and give them a week to get acclimated to their new home before feeding. In the second week begin adding “small” amounts of food waste in one spot of the bin, I sprinkle a bit of pulverized eggshell over the food since worms have gizzards the extra grit helps them process the waste. No reason to go crazy with the eggshell just a small sprinkle. I also bury the food about and inch or so down but remember the location so you can check on it.
- Do feed your worms vegetable peelings, fruit rinds, tea bags, used coffee grounds, rinsed table scrapes old oatmeal and cornmeal (use the oat and cornmeal in small moderate amounts).
- Do not feed meat, dairy products, oily foods and defiantly steer clear of adding pineapple, it contains an enzyme called bromelain which kills worms.
How fast the worms consume the waste depends on several different factors so resist the temptation to add anymore until they have completely consumed what you have already added. This will assist you in getting a feel for how much they will eat. Every few days or when needed spray the burlap or newsprint with de-chlorinated water to assist in keeping things moist. The biggest reason most folks fail with keeping a worm bin is due to over feeding! I cannot stress enough – start feeding slowly and in small amounts you will not starve them I promise! As your worms adapt to their newly created habitat they will begin to consume more and more food. With time and patience you will be a worm bin superhero by keeping useful trash from entering landfills.
Congrats YOU did it!!
Go grab a cup of coffee sit and behold your new creation!!! Congrats YOU did it!!
fair warning you WILL probably become a worm squirm stalker. This WILL eventually wear off. Remember – A watched worm never poops!
Questions? I am just a few keystrokes away! I do hope to eventually get some photos up to support all these words