Welcome to the Farm!!

Welcome to the Farm!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Worm Composting: Preparing the Bin

Composting is good for your garden and for the local landfill. The natural fertilizer and organic material created by the decomposition of yard and kitchen waste is a safe and nutrient-rich soil additive. Decomposition creates heat. Sending your yard and kitchen waste to a landfill every week really heats things up in a very bad way. However, good composting requires turning the pile regularly to keep it aerated. We never invested the money into a couple of rolling composters, and I’m terrible at making sure the pile gets turned. Something about it being 90°F at 8AM here in the summertime makes me not in a big hurry to do serious physical labor outdoors!

We realized that we needed a cost effective alternative for composting. The chickens get a significant amount of our food waste but not all of it and definitely not tea bags or coffee grounds. So, we’re turning to worm composting. The kitchen and yard waste along with old newspapers and cardboard are still turned into a wonderful soil additive, but the worms do all the work. I think I’m going to like delegating this chore!

One pound of red wiggler worms is equal to about 1,000 worms that can eat about a half a pound of food and bedding a day. The bin is relatively small and can even be kept inside. It isn’t uncommon for people in apartments to have a worm compost bin tucked away in the kitchen or in a closet. Just like traditional composting, as long as you don’t add meats or fats, you shouldn’t have an ugly smell.

Our worms will be here tomorrow, so Jared, his friend Josh and I got the worm bin ready. Tom already drilled all the holes for us and found something to place between the two bins to keep the worm bin elevated. I think we’re ready!

Preparing the Worm Bin:

The bins:

These are two 10-gallon storage containers that we've had forever. Ten-gallon containers are a good size for starting your worm composting. They are easy to work with and easy to find in the stores. Do NOT go for the clear plastic containers! Have you ever noticed that worms live IN dirt, not ON it?! They do not like light at all. Keep them in the dark, and they'll be happy! 

Holey, holey, holey:

I think those are 1/4" holes drilled into the sides of one of the bins. But don't quote me. I am certain that my husband told me at some point, but I have since recycled that brain cell. I may or may not remember to ask him later so don't hold your breath.  

Along with the holes around the top half of the sides, Tom drill holes in the lid as well. All of these holes allow oxygen into the bin. Only drill holes in one bin and in one lid. The second bin is to catch water and holes would be a bit counter-productive. 




Smaller, 1/16" to 1/8" holes are drilled into the bottom of the worm bin. Worms like thing moist but aren't really into swimming, just ask the worm on the end of your hook the next time you go fishing. These small holes in the bottom keep the inside moist but well drained.




The worm bin is now ready for bedding. Good old newspaper makes excellent worm bedding. Use newsprint only and leave the glossy ads and magazines for the recycle bin. I let the boys shred the newspaper for me. I was happily doing it myself until they heard the first rip from the other room!






Um, boys, could we get back to work please?
That should be enough!
Next add some dry leaves. I have no idea whether or not you can use green ones or why every piece of literature on worm composting that I could find calls for dry leaves. Until I learn otherwise, we tossed in dry leaves. Since I love the satisfying crunch of the dry leaves beneath my feet, I'm not one for raking too much. I also see the leaves as free mulch, so I have a ready supply. The boys filled about half of that bucket with leaves dropped by my ficus tree over the year.






Time to mix and fluff:




Just a quick warning to parents of my kids' friends: yes, your children will probably get dirty if they come here.

Add 2 cups of dirt or soil:




The worms will use the dirt the same way chickens do: to aid digestion.




I won't water the bedding until the worms are actually here, but you get the idea. The bedding must be kept moist for the worms to stay healthy.


Put the lid on, and place the worm bin inside the second bin. Make sure you have something that keeps the worm bin elevated in the second bin. A couple of brick set up on their sides will work just fine. Water drips into this bin, so wood is not a good option. I have no idea what these things are that my husband put in here. But, it just goes to show you that as long as the worm bin is level, you can be creative!




The drainage water that accumulates in this bottom bin is an excellent liquid fertilizer often called worm tea or compost tea. 


Now, I just place the worm bin on top, and I'm ready for my worms! I can't wait until they get here! 




Thanks for stopping by! Come back tomorrow for pictures of my new wiggly pets! In the meantime, check out Worms Eat My Garbage: How to Set Up and Maintain a Worm Composting System by Mary Appelhof for some excellent information about worm composting. If you're in my area and are trying to get the one and only copy of the book form the library, that is NOT me who has the book out past the due date. Honest! Happy Homesteading!

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,
Betty

Homestead Revival's Barn Hop

5 comments:

  1. I would love to try this! Where did order your worms from?

    I would love it if you stopped by and linked this post to my Saturday on the Farm linky. :)

    Linda @ Linda's Lunacy
    http://www.lindaslunacy.blogspot.com

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  2. Our boys are wanting to get into worm composting and I'm so excited to find this post. I am wondering too, where you found the worms?

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  3. I'm so glad you found the information useful. I got my worms online at Worms, etc. Also, try craigslist for local places. I wanted to get mine local but one place was outrageously expensive and the other didn't answer our emails, so I purchased online. The link is: http://www.wormsetc.com/webstore/ Good luck with your composting! I can't wait to read about your adventures!

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  4. I am so thrilled to have read your blog. My husband and I have been researching worm composting for some time, but you made it look so easy, and I love the collection of the compost tea. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

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  5. I am thrilled to have found this blog. My family is excited to start our worm composting.You make it look so easy. I love the idea of how to collect the compost tea. Thank you, Thank you!!

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