Worm bin

Mid-February, I started a worm bin in my house. Thus far, it has been successful.

  • Only a few worms died due to not enough moisture in the dry climate I live in. That was easily and quickly rectified.
  • Kitchen vegetable scraps, tea bags or loose tea, egg shells, cut up cardboard, tissues, ripped up newspaper, and old leaves from house plants all are food for the worms. My neighbor’s chickens still get the majority of kitchen veggie scraps. (I eat alot of veggies!)
  • The bin has no foul odor at all.
  • The worms have produced babies and do so with regularity. Soon, I will take some worms out to start a second bin.

After watching several videos on YouTube, I mostly followed this woman’s instructions.

I added cut up, water-soaked squares of cardboard, a few tissues (they are made from bamboo), and a callilily bought at a store that died. I want to outdoor-compost or give to the worms anything that came from the Earth rather than put it in the landfill or recycle bin. Below is how easy it was.

  1. An 18 gallon plastic bin, dark in color and with a cover.
  2. Make holes around the top of the bin but not in the cover. This is for air circulation. Worms need to breathe! (I used a steak knife because I don’t have a drill. It was very easy.)
  3. Prepare the bedding of coconut coir, cut up newspaper or shredded paper, leaves, crushed egg shells, a little dirt or sand for grit (worms have gizzards like chickens that grind their food).
  4. Obtain worms from someone who cultivates Red Wigglers commercially or get some from a friend who has a bin going.
  5. Make a hole for the worms and add them. Then cover them gently with the coconut coir bedding. Worms like dark and are afraid of the light. (Light means predators will find and eat them.)
  6. Make another hole for their food: kitchen produce scraps and moistened old tea bags that are a few days old. The worms eat the often-invisible microbes and bacteria that are on the rotting food, which helps the food break down. Then, cover the food also with the coconut coir bedding material.
  7. The woman in the video suggested dampened newspaper sheets across the top of the bedding in a new bin. She said that it helped the stressed worms get used to their new home and not try to escape due to instinct. I did that. A few did try to climb the wall inside the bin and they were gently put back under the moistened newspaper. I checked the new bin every hour for a few hours (out of caring and curiosity).
  8. Then put the cover on the bin. Done!
  9. I “feed” my worms every four days and spritz the top of the bedding with water due to the dry climate but the food scraps contain water which goes into the “soil”/bedding as the worms break the food down. Under the surface, the bedding is quite moist.
  10. Babies started appearing within days. They look like white thin threads. The worm babies turn red as they grow.

Within a few days, this worm bin became a mini-habitat with pill bugs, minute little other bugs, and the worms which rarely poked out of the soil. None of the bugs came out through the air holes into my room. Their food and life was in the bin! It’s actually been really interesting to watch the bin be so alive and contained at the same time.

In May, I’ll harvest the worm castings which will be used to regenerate and rejuvenate my back yard. This is all part of the overall permaculture project for the back yard. Vermiculture (worm growing to efficiently compost kitchen waste and then using the worm castings for house plants or garden) is highly efficient and effective. The worms eat the microbes growing on the decaying food or paper/plant matter. The microbes go through their gut and become their poop/castings. In order to put microbes back into the dead soil in the yard I moved to, I’ll make castings tea: an non hot-water infusion of worm castings and then pour it with a watering can onto the areas to regenerate; then cover with wet sheets of  cardboard because of the dry climate and intensity of the sun so that the microbes can begin to make a home. I’ll then thoroughly wet the cardboard and mulch it with hay, then wet that. One season later, voila!!! all new soil ready for planting; and the cardboard would have composted.

I’m so excited! With understandable fear on people’s minds due to Covid-19, my mind is on Life and how to make it thrive here in this little town of very few people. Along with people around the world, I pray that this world event is one that fosters humanity’s transformation into the sharing, caring, peace loving, Earth loving presence that we can be and that we are in our hearts. Maybe you have a yard to play gardener in or have children who would love to feed worms and watch this little habitat grow and change? Maybe you just want to put less trash in the trash, less paper in the -who knows what happens to it – recycle center? Think about it. Maybe a worm bin is for you.

About Donna Mitchell-Moniak

Visit www.blazinglight.net for additional meditations and blog posts.
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5 Responses to Worm bin

  1. Sandra Krantz says:

    Very cool!

  2. Debbie Dise says:

    That is so cool Donna. I too learned to grow a red wiggler worm farm from classes I took at our Ag Extension office here in Tulsa. I grew them in our kitchen for the winter and they made beautiful rich composted soil for our organic garden. Our worm farm looks just like yours does. My grandchildren were so excited each time they would visit to see how the worms were doing. We are planning our outside compost bin right now and getting all the layers needed to start this project next week.
    Who knew we would be worm farmers!!

  3. Marcie Brenner says:

    I vermacomposted for a few years. I really enjoyed feeding them and watching them thrive. I enjoyed making use of my vegetable scraps. The fertilizer that came from their castings made my plants flourish. To make things easier for me. I set the bin on bricks in a shaded area. The fluid that drained from the bin right into the soul. The ground under the bin also made a good fertilizer. In Wisconsin, the worms freeze to death over the winter. They are not native. So I housed them indoors, but it was very hard to control the fruit flies. Two years ago I composted without the worms, but I got free worms from a friend last year, so I used them over the summer. I feel kind of bad that they freeze to death, but not bad enough to stop me from doing it.

    • Hi Marcie,
      Glad you have done this, and maybe still are. In a video by an elder teacher at a community college on worm bins, he said that fruit fly eggs are in the skin of things like bananas. It’s not the worm bin; it’s simply that the eggs are hatching. He suggested to wash things like banana peels before putting them in compost container or in a worm bin. — I have had 0 bugs in my home from the worm bin.

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