Vermicomposting | Starting A Worm Farm On The Cheap

If you've looked into vermicomposting, you've probably seen those fancy and expensive bins. Some even have multiple levels and a spigot for draining liquids. Those things can cost hundreds of dollars and might even change your mind about starting a worm bin. The truth is, you can make one yourself.

What is vermicomposting?

Verimcompost is the use of worms, typically red wigglers, to help breakdown materials in order to collect worm castings to add to your garden.

Why can't I just used earthworms?

Red wigglers will thrive in a composting environment. They are surface dwellers that can handle temps between 35 and 75 degree Fahrenheit. Earthworms like to go deep into the earth (about 6 feet). They do this to adapt to changed in soil conditions. If used in a closed bin for vermicomposting, they will not survive.

What exactly are castings?

In short, castings is just another word for worm poop. Yes, if you've ever touched worm castings, you've touched worm poop.

How to make a worm bin

  • Purchase two plastic totes or storage bins. The size of the tote will depend on you and how many worms you're buying.

  • Take one bin and make small holes at the bottom. The bin with the holes will rest inside of the bin without holes. There should be enough space between each bin. If there isn't, place something inside the bottom of the bin that has no holes to create space. This will allow enough space for the worms in case some get through the holes.

(two small blocks used to create about an inch of space between each bin)

  • Add bedding. Coco coir and shredded cardboard is ideal. Then add some food scraps and keep the lid on the worm bin.

  • Keep the bin in a cool area. You don't want your bin getting too hot, otherwise, your worms will not survive.

How to collect the castings

By placing fresh scraps on one side of the bin, you force the worms to stay on that side. While they are on one side of the bin. you can scoop out the castings from the other side. There may be a few worms left behind but that's ok. You can either remove them and place them on the other side with the scraps. or leave them and they'll simply be added to your garden which is a good thing. If you prefer, in order to catch the worms or remove any materials that didn't get broken down, you can sift the castings.

Sifting will leave you with a fluffy consistency.

Depending on the amount of worms in your bin, they will break down food scraps within one to two weeks. You can continuously collect castings until you have enough to add to your garden or mix with your regular compost.

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