If you’ve always wanted a pet, but think:
- Dogs are too messy,
- Cats are too stuck up,
- And goldfish leave something to be desired in the personality department
(no offence intended to my dog/cat/fish loving readers),
I have the perfect solution for you: worm bin composting!
It’s also called vermicomposting, and it’s done with red wrigglers, or Eisenia fetida.
In case their wriggly cuteness isn’t reason enough, they offer some of the richest compost available, and a great way to deal with your kitchen scraps without leaving the kitchen, especially if you don’t have space for an outdoor compost pile.
Even a small amount of worm bin compost, or castings, is a huge benefit in creating a healthy organic garden…
How To Build A Worm Bin
Worms like it simple, so any worm composting bins that are made of non-toxic materials will do.
The simplest way is to buy one ready-made, but a diy worm bin is easy.
When making a worm bin, you can start with a plastic storage tote, about 18 inches wide by 24 inches long by 18-24 inches high.
Drill about 12 holes for drainage and aeration in the bottom, about ¼-½ inch in diameter, then another dozen or more on the sides towards the top.
Don’t worry about the worms crawling out – you’re making great habitat for them inside the vermicomposting bin, so they’ll have nothing to gain by escaping unless something is radically wrong.
Who breaks out of a 5-star hotel?
For the drainage holes to work, you’ll need to set the worm bin slightly off the ground on bricks or something.
You’ll also need a catchment tray underneath it for the small amounts of leachate that drain out. A second lid works perfectly for this…
Preparing The Worm Bin
Since you’ll regularly be adding nitrogen-rich food scraps to the compost worm bin, you need some carbon.
Make the bedding out of high-carbon materials such as straw, leaves, and non-glossy newspaper.
These should be shredded, though some coarser bits will enhance air circulation.
Worm bin composting is slightly more moist that regular composting, so don’t be afraid to get it nice and wet, as long as it’s not waterlogged.
They prefer a temperature between 60F and 80F, out of direct sunlight. They’ll survive at lower temperatures, but become sluggish and unable to process much food.
You might not like sand in your own bed, but worms thrive if you add a handful of sand or sandy soil to their bedding. They have gizzards, like chickens, and need the sand to digest their food…
Getting Vermicomposting Worms
It’s supposed to take about a pound of worms to start a worm composting bin.
I’ve gotten away with a half pound.
You can add them to your cubic foot of bedding once it’s well moistened.
It’s great to let them settle in for a few days before feeding them, to give them time to adjust to their new home.
In fact, if you keep the lid off for the first day and perch a light over the bin, that will encourage the worms to burrow down in there.
Worm bin composting is done in the dark because the worms don’t like light, so it’s best not to disturb them too often – no need to turn the materials in the worm bin, because they’ll do it for you…
Feeding Your Worm Bin
Red wrigglers have slightly refined tastes, but will generally eat most things you eat, with the exception of meat, dairy, and very oily foods.
They’re not too keen on citrus, onion and garlic skins, very hot spices, or excess salt, either, though they love their coffee grounds like a Wall Street hedge fund manager loves his triple macchiato.
It’s important not to overfeed them at the beginning, so you can start by giving them about 1.5 pounds of food scraps per week. To avoid fruit flies, make sure you bury the food in the bedding.
Eventually, composting worm bins this size can process up to 4-5 pounds of food each week, which is perfect for two people, or one person who eats a lot of veggies.
You can work your way across the bedding every couple of weeks, then start back at the beginning, where the original food scraps should be mostly broken down into nice, juicy black worm poo…
Ask me your worm bin composting questions below or upload a picture of your worm compost bin!