Why Make A Worm Farm?
By making your own worm farm, you not only reduce the amount of waste going into a landfill, but it's an easy way to provide juicy, rich soil for your plants. Worm castings (aka vermicast) is a fancy way of saying worm poo, which is an excellent organic form of fertilizer produced from earthworms. As these creatures eat through compost, their waste creates a great nutrient source for your plants, as well as an optimal soil-enricher that improves soil aeration, drainage and water retention. Your worm farm can be kept outdoors, or inside your home or apartment. Plus it's interesting to watch these little "pets" thrive and multiply by feeding them food scraps that would otherwise go into the garbage.
*If you are unfamiliar with what should and shouldn't go into a compost bin, please see our composting blog for details.
How to Make Your Worm Farm AKA Vermicomposting
Vermicomposting is the term for worm composting bins. There are many types of worm bins available for purchase at nurseries and online, but you can also make your own worm bins cheaper.
What to Keep in Mind When Making Worm Composting Bins:
- You can use wooden boxes, plastic containers, or even bamboo to build earthworm boxes (avoid containers of metal, which leach into the soil and increase mineral concentrations). The purpose is to contain your kitchen scraps and prevent animals from digging in them and yet allow the worm’s access to the food.
- You can take advantage of the natural earthworms in your soil, versus buying earthworms, by building earthworm boxes. These are similar to vermicomposting bins, but have no bottom so the earthworms can burrow up into the area you boxed off.
- The bins/boxes should be shallow, between 8 and 12 inches in depth, with drainage holes in the bottom. If they are too deep, they may become problematic with odors.
- The most basic types of worm bins are single layer. You can also do several levels, so the worms move to the next layer when their work is done in the first. This allows you to harvest the castings more easily.
Step by Step Directions to Build Worm Composting Bins:
- Start with the container and drill about twenty ¼-inch drainage holes in the bottom.
- If you are using several layers of bins, set the next container under this first bin that leaves a gap for the worms to move into after they are finished with the contents of the top layer. Drill holes in the bottom of this bin and holes around the edges of both containers for ventilation.
- Line bins with shredded paper for bedding that has been soaked in water and squeezed dry.
- Add a layer of dirt and place a big handful of red worms inside. This is only if you are not building earthworm boxes outside with no bottom.
- Put a moist sheet of cardboard on top and then cover with a lid that has more ventilation holes drilled into it.
- Place the bin in a cool, but not cold, location indoors or out. Keep the mixture moderately damp, but not soggy.
Feeding Worm Composting Bins
- Feed the worms your food scraps slowly until you see how much they can eat. One pound of worms can consume ½ pound of food scraps per day. The worms multiply quickly, so you will gradually have enough worms to handle larger amounts of kitchen scraps.
- Avoid giving them dairy, meat, fatty items and animal waste.
- Keep the food buried in the soil to reduce fruit flies and moisten the paper bedding frequently but lightly.
- When the bedding is used up, add more until the bin is full of castings (worm poo). Then put the second bin on top of the castings with moist bedding, soil and food. The worms will move up to that bin through the holes in the bottom and the whole process starts over again.
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