Worm Bin Update

worm bin

Well, I made my bin. Hooray for me. Kind of anticlimactic though, because according to this knowledgeable looking site, I have to let it “age” before I add the wormies. So I made the bin last week, added a layer of shredded paper, a layer of food, and another of paper. During the week I’ve been throwing more food on top.

the not-so-perfect beddingUnfortunately (or, I guess fortunately for the future success of my worm career) it occured to me that although I remembered reading somewhere about the fluffy product of office paper shredders being the perfect bedding, didn’t it seem wrong to feed worms bleached paper? I did a little research, and sure enough. Advice ranges from “don’t use” to “preferably not bleached” to “use sparingly.” I’m gonna go with the use sparingly since as you can see, the deed is pretty much done.

So you know where I’ll be tonight. That’s right, on the couch, shredding cardboard and newspaper, by hand. Sigh. I was so excited when I thought I’d found two giant bags of perfect, no-work bedding!

There is a lot of bags of leaves around, being fall here in the Gulf belt, and the above mentioned site does say leaves make a fine secondary bedding material (see his full list here). So I’ll be on the lookout.

the drilled binIf you want to make a bin, check out the above site. Wood is preferred, but a rubbermaid tote is, sadly, cheaper and easier. Basically it’s just a matter of drilling some holes for drainage and airflow (use a drillbit size smaller than a worm!) If you keep your bin inside, or if you want to capture the good juices that drain off, it needs a tray to drain into. I’m gonna keep mine outside, because it’s warm enough to do that here and I’m afraid of attracting critters (read: cockroaches) into the house. I’ve already noticed the “curing” bin is swarmed with fruit flies. Which means I’m gonna have to move it away from the back door, so that when I leave said door open, all those little buggers don’t fly right in.

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!