We have just added a new weapon to our arsenal against the heavy clay soil of Northern Arizona: our very own worm bin! In case you wonder what I am talking about, worm poop (more politically correctly known as “worm castings”) makes wonderful compost for the garden.
I didn’t pick the theme slippery with the worm bin in mind, but it occurred to me later that since worms are a bit slippery, this project fit the theme!
One option is to buy a commercially constructed worm bin such as this one, but I opted to go homemade (I guess this could have fit last week’s homemade theme too). Worm bins can be made out of wood or plastic containers. They can be one simple box or multilevel. I followed these online instructions for a two story, Cheap and Easy Worm Bin.
You’ll need two 8 to 10 gallon plastic storage boxes with lids (dark plastic, not transparent), a drill with a 1/4″ and a 1/16″ drill bit, some newspaper and a piece of cardboard.
First drill about 20 large (1/4″) holes in the bottoms of both boxes. Space them approximately evenly to allow for even airflow and easy worm travel.
Next drill small (1/16″) holes all around the top edge of the boxes, about 1 to 1.5″ apart. I did two rows for maximum ventilation.
Also drill small holes (about 30) in ONE lid. The other lid will be the base to collect any draining liquid, so don’t put holes in that one.
Fill a bucket or other plastic container with water. Tear the newspaper into long strips, approximately 1″ wide and toss them into the water to soak. This will be your worm bedding and you’ll want about 3 to 4″ of it in the bottom of the box. For us, it took one whole newspaper.
Take the newspaper strips out one handful at a time and squeeze them out well. They need to be nicely damp, not sopping (don’t forget that worms breathe through their skin so don’t drown them!).
Toss them in one of the boxes and fluff them up.
Once you have your 3 to 4″ of fluffed up bedding, you’ll need to mix in a bit of dirt. Since we still have a giant sand pile in the back yard, we put in a bit of sand too. Worms have gizzards and need to eat some of this rough material (dirt/sand) in order to digest their food (by grinding it in their gizzards – no teeth!).
Finally, soak a piece of cardboard just big enough to cover your bedding and place it on top of the bedding. The worms will be put underneath this cardboard and it will also become a tasty treat for them.
Now it’s time to set up your worm hotel. Place the solid lid upside down on the ground as a tray to catch any draining liquid from the decomposition process (known as “worm tea,” your garden will love this!). Place some bricks or blocks on the upside down lid as a base for the boxes (this allows for drainage). Next goes the empty box on top of the blocks, with the full box nested inside it. The lid with the air holes goes on top. Keep in a cool dark place.
When the worms move in, place their food in a corner and bury it under the newspaper to avoid odors and fruit flies. Bury new food in a different part of the bin each time you feed them. They will follow it around the bin.
Voilà! The finished worm bin! Now all we need are the residents. I ordered a 2 lb bag of Red Wigglers online and they should be arriving soon. At least their new home will be ready for them.
NOTE: Worms like: vegetables, fruit, tea bags, coffee filters and grounds, eggshells, bread, cereal, grains. Do NOT feed: meat, dairy, oil, fat, feces.
For more complete feeding information, as well as how to harvest your worm castings, please be sure to read the Cheap and Easy Worm Bin article!
Cheap and Easy Worm Bin
Worm Composting (Vermicomposting) How-To
FOLLOW-UP: Be sure to check out the arrival of the resident worms in this post: Worm Bin Update – NO VACANCY
ALSO: Read about our first harvest (only 8 weeks later)