Sunday, November 11, 2007

To Make A Worm Bin Use Rubbermaid Container

Having a worm bin for composting kitchen scraps has been way more fun than I had imagined. I thought it would be hard to keep the kids out of the worms but I find myself lifting the shredded paper checking daily to see how the worms are doing. Big globs of worms form around food looking really creepy but it is facinating to see the dark castings slowly begin to appear.

The above picture is a small Rubbermaid Roughneck container only 12 inches by 10 inches and 7 inches deep. A portable worm bin for demonstration use. Not nearly large enough for all the scraps from a family. The bigger containers are recommended for that. Drilling small (less than a 1/4 inch) holes in the top and sides allows good airflow.

We shredded newspaper for the worm bedding making sure to fill the bin well then sprinkled water on the paper until it was thoroughly wet but not dripping puddles into the bottom. Let it sit and soak up the extra water or add more shredded paper if necessary.
If you do not have access to a shredder hand rip the paper into thin strips. Pulling down the page from top to bottom, not side to side, to get long thin strips easily. Separate and fluff up the strips. You can use dry crumbled leaves that have fallen from your trees,either alone or mixed with the paper. For now I am sticking with the newspaper but might try the leaves in another bin to see what happens.

We added a few handfulls of garden soil which the worms use like grit to aid in digesting the organic matter.

For a large container start with 1/2 to a full pound of worms. There are about 1000 redworms (Eisenia fetida) to a pound.This small container we are using has only about a quarter pound but worms reproduce fast. If you buy a pound to split between 3 or 4 people it will take only a couple of months for each bin to reach full garbage eating capacity.
Worms like moderate temperatures from about 50 to 70 degrees, a moist environment (worms die if they dry out or if bedding stays dripping wet ), and food scraps but no meat, dairy or greasy foods that can become rancid. We have more than enough vegetable scraps to keep this bunch fat and happy. A much larger bin is in the works already.

It will take three to six months for enough castings to harvest. When all the food and bedding has disappeared and all you see is rich dark castings it is time.

Where does one keep a worm bin? Well, ours is sitting in the laundry room for the moment. A basement would work or a heated garage. Any ideas?

More information...

UIUC Extension Chicago Home Composting
Worm Composting

Slide show link

Got mites

Worms eat my garbage by Mary Appelhof

Worms eat our garbage by Mary Appelhof (Classroom Activities )

Buying Worms This is where our worms came from.


Blogger firefly said...

My outdoor compost bin is frozen on top (also completely full thanks to more sod busting) and I'm really tempted to do a worm bin indoors. I have two bags of frozen kitchen scraps and two worn out pots of kitty grass already and nowhere to put them. (I also hear the red wigglers will eat dryer lint and shed fur, which would be a real boon.)

What keeps me from the Rubbermaid thing, though, is having to sift the castings. The one description I saw of it was "dump the bin out on a tarp in the driveway" and then try to get all the worms and undigested scraps separated out. Seemed like a lot of unnecessarily messy work.

How are you planning to harvest the castings and get the worms back into the bin?

13/11/07 2:31 PM  
Blogger Gloria said...

Well,with the little bin a dump may be the best and quickest way.
I am beginning a bin large enough to handle a family's scraps using a big rubbermaid container(may even need two by spring). In it there will be room to move everything over to one side then start a new batch of bedding on the empty side. The worms are supposed to migrate over but it could take a few weeks and a very few may remain in the harvest but this will cause no problem. Worms reproduce fast and will not hurt the plants where ever you chose to use the castings if a few remain alive.They don't eat live growing plant material and will die off with no food or if to dry.

13/11/07 2:50 PM  
Anonymous MrBrownThumb said...

Nice entry.

I keep meaning to start one but never get around to the bait shop to pick up enough worms. But I guess it is for the best 'cause worms may not be welcomed by the other residents of the house.

16/11/07 3:10 PM  
Blogger firefly said...

Are you putting a divider in the big bin or just limiting the size of the pile?

If you could post about that when you get to it, that would be great. Now I'm in the habit of saving peels and cores and coffee grounds and I hate to stop!

20/11/07 2:03 PM  
Blogger Gloria said...

Hi there Mr Brownthumb, yes there are many that would object to worm bins in the house, but I have found that children usually love feeding the worms.
I was surprised to find that my very own Mr does not object at all.

Firefly,no divider necessary in the worm bin.

Another option stack rubbermaid containers inside each other leaving holes in the bottom of each for the worms to get through. Then you can stop putting food and bedding in one section so that the worms will migrate to the section being kept moist and fed.The bedding and the scraps will eventually all be passed through the worms and be mostly castings where worms cannot live.

27/11/07 11:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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22/1/10 10:18 PM  

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