>> Saturday, September 5, 2009
We set up our worm bin today! I'm not sure who was more excited - me or the boys!
The following are the steps I followed to set up my worm bin, and I'm too excited to wait to share them, but I'm adding a warning that you should probably wait to see if I kill off all my worms before trying this yourself.
STEP 1: Read Worms Eat My Garbage.
STEP 2: Obtain a container. I used an 18 gallon plastic container with a lid, but Mary Appelhof (author of Worms Eat My Garbage) says that a shallow container would be better. The size of container you will need depends on how much food waste your family produces a day. Appelhof recommends that you "plan on one square foot of surface for each pound of garbage per week."
STEP 3: Drill ventilation holes in the sides and lid. A friend of mine put this container together for me as part of a class for the Raleigh Community Gardens Meetup Group, and she used special grommets to fill in the holes, but you could also just use some wire mesh.
STEP 4: Obtain worms. You need red wigglers, which are available at bait shops. The goal is a worm to garbage ration of 2:1 (2 pounds of worms for every pound of food waste your household produces a day), but because worms multiply, you can start with less if the worms seem too pricey. We bought a pound of worms for $17. The sales clerk asked us if we were setting up a compost bin "because fishermen never ask for worms by the pound."
STEP 5: Prepare bedding. We used eight pounds of shredded newspaper for our size of container. You need three pounds of bedding per cubic foot volume of the bin. Appelhof implied that newspaper was the best type of bedding, though you could also use a mixture of newspaper, leaves, manure, and wood chips. Avoid newspaper with colored print.
STEP 6: Wet the bedding. For plastic containers, you need to add water equal to two times the weight of the bedding. So for our container, we added 16 pounds of water. If your container is made of another material besides plastic, add water equal to three times the weight of the bedding. (Plastic bins tend to accumulate more water over time.)
STEP 7: Add one or two handfuls of soil. Mix well.
STEP 8: Add the worms on top of the bedding. Leave the lights on in the room, and the worms will move into the bedding within an hour. If any are left on the surface, remove them.
STEP 9: Feed your worms by digging a hole big enough for the amount of food you're going to add. Put the food in the hole and cover with bedding. If you're using a plastic container, add dry shredded bedding to the surface every two or three weeks.
What can you feed your worms?
- coffee grinds
- tea leaves
- pulvarized egg shells
Cost: $10 for the bin + $17 for the worms + FREE newspaper obtained from friends = $27
I'm thinking we're going to need another bin or two for the amount of food waste we produce, but I'm going to experiment with this one for now and see how it goes. Wish us luck!