Vermicomposting, Here I Come

Yup, it’s been on my list since we got here. I’ve got a rubbermaid tote waiting to be drilled, two giant trash bags full of shredded paper I found by a dumpster at the university, and a friend waiting to give me the worms. Why is it taking me so long, you ask? I dunno. No good reason.

Today I woke up thinking worms. Just did a little internet research and found a great web site by a total worm fanatic. One of those weird and brilliant people who’s always testing boundaries and challenging the frontier. How about making a worm bin out of some old Levi’s?

This will be my second worm bin, the first was a total failure. Yes, I know it’s supposed to be so easy, and no,  I don’t know what went wrong. After not very long it bred something entirely different, and since I didn’t know what the hell, and those tiny white wormy things were composting my stuff (sorta), I let it go on for some time before accepting that I had killed my worms.

For those of you who’ve never heard of it before, vermicomposting (vermi means worm) is a great compost pile alternative for city folks. A worm bin is much smaller, works much faster, and shouldn’t produce hardly any smell. So you can supposedly have it in your house, right under your sink even. In fact the worms need to be kept from freezing, so unless you live somewhere with mild winters (like New Orleans) you’ll need to keep them inside. The upside of that is that they keep composting straight through the winter.

Worms need a moist but never wet environment and a continual supply of food. An ideal worm bin is made from wood, which can breath, but plenty are made out of plastic, and I’ll be making mine from a rubbermaid tote. You just have to drill holes for air flow and drainage. Then you need bedding (any moisture absorbing, easily digestible carbon material like shredded paper or cardboard) and a few handfulls of dirt. The web site link above has some decent instructions for getting started, but like many mad scientist types, he doesn’t do a very thorough job of explaining things for beginners. The classic book on the subject is Worms Eat My Garbage, which is thorough for sure, but you don’t really need to read a whole book on the subject to start a bin! (But then, look at me, I read the book and still killed my worms…) If I find a good in between beginner source I’ll be sure to post it.

And watch for my next Building a Worm Bin post, which I intend to document!

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