Getting Start with DIY Vermiculture – Growing Worms 101
If you want to have richer soil and do your part to compost, you’ll want to consider using a worm bin. By setting up your own worm bin in your backyard, you’ll be able to create more high quality soil and do your part to minimize your landfill footprint. If you decide after reading this article that you don’t want to make your own, but would prefer a well designed complete worm system, we suggest you explore our composting page at Growandmake.com.
Also called vermicomposting, a worm bin is more than your basic compost bin. Instead of relying on mere microorganisms to break down food scraps and debris, a worm bin employs worms for the task. The result is, the turnover rate is higher and the break-down happens more rapidly. Another benefit of vermicomposting: it’s indoors-friendly. Apartment-dwellers have access to the benefits of composting by using worms. Though this article takes you through the steps for an outdoor worm bin, we have indoors-friendly worm bins available in our shop.
It’s easy to make your own by using a few plastic tubs. We recommend a 3 tub stack, which serves as a multi-tier composting stack. You’ll need to find 3 identical tubs and drill holes for both aeration (air flow) and drainage (water flow). You’ll also need to put holes in the bottom of the top two tiers so that the worms can migrate upward.
You can set this tiered tub setup in your backyard or driveway and it should last many years. You’ll need to perform the described maintenance and be aware that in the Winter your worms will go somewhat dormant. Typically your worm can consume their compost their weight in 24 hours.
You might consider making a worm bin from wood, but be warned that a wooden bin will rot and decompose unless it is lined, so the lifespan can be fairly limited. Also, try to make sure you don’t use any toxic items for your composting bin (paint, styrofoam, etc.).
Your going to need to make sure that you have access to worms for your bin. You can purchase these from Growandmake.com or you can find them in your yards soil and add them to the bin. Red Wigglers are the recommended worms for composting and can be purchased by the pound.
In the top tub you’ll add your fresh compost.. banana peels, newspaper, coffee grounds… any sort of organic waste material. Then you’ll add some of your worms and some starter soil to all the bins or whichever bins you choose. The worms will find their way up into the higher bins when they sense the organic material.
After tier one (the top tier) begins to look like compost mulch, you’ll want to move it to tier two, so that you can add more fresh compost to tier one. Tier two should have a little higher concentration of worms.
When you’re ready to move tier one into tier two, you’ll want to move tier two to tier contents to tier three.
Once your compost looks usable in your garden, yard or for house plants, you’ll remove it from the bottom bin. Then you can transfer the contents from tier two to tier three and tier one to tier two.
Worm Bin Maintenance
If you live in a dry part of the country, you’ll want to occasionally add water to your compost so it doesn’t dry out and kill your worms. Also, it is recommended that your soil be maintained at a temperature between 50 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to use the drainage tea to either pour into your garden on your plants or you can pour it back into your composting bins to ensure richer composting soil. Also, don’t be surprised to discover what look like maggots or large flies in your bin. These are part of the composting process and should be left to work their magic.