Creating your own worm compost bin is an easy and cost-effective way to reduce waste while creating nutrient-rich soil for gardening.
Worm composting, or vermicomposting, uses worms to break down organic material into a valuable soil amendment that can be used in gardens and houseplants.
Not only does it provide a great source of fertilizer for plants, but it also reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills. With just a few materials from around the house and some patience, you can build your own DIY worm compost bin at home!
What is Vermicomposting?
The simple and short answer is vermicomposting is an environmentally-friendly method of composting using worms to break down organic material. This process produces nutrient-rich soil, known as vermicast or worm castings, that can be used in gardens and houseplants.
If you’d like to learn more about what vermicomposting is, check out our full guide here.
What You’ll Need to Make a Worm Bin.
Creating a worm bin for vermicomposting requires minimal maintenance once it’s established, and the end result is much richer in nutrients than traditional composting methods.
In order to create a successful worm bin, you will need the following items:
1) Bedding material: The most popular bedding materials are shredded newspaper or cardboard, which can provide a comfortable home for your worms as well as help to keep the compost moist. You can also use peat moss, coconut coir, or straw – these materials will help to aerate the compost and improve drainage.
2) Worms: Red wiggler worms are one of the most common types used in vermicomposting. These worms are great for breaking down organic material and creating nutrient-rich compost quickly. Other great options are European nightcrawlers, African nightcrawlers, and Indian Blue Worms.
3) A container: Any container that is at least 12 inches deep can be used as a worm bin – plastic storage containers, wooden boxes and bins, or even buckets can all work. Make sure there are plenty of holes in the sides and lid of the container so air can circulate properly.
We recommend a 5-gallon bucket or multiple if you have a large household and want more than one. Preferably a dark colored material as worms like the dark and you don’t want the sunlight bothering them.
Next, start drilling 10-15 holes in the bottom of one bucket.
4) A cover: If using a plastic storage container you may want to cover it with something like burlap or fabric to help keep in moisture while allowing some air circulation. This will also help keep out pests such as flies and rodents that might otherwise be attracted by food scraps when placed directly in the bin.
5) Food scraps: This is what your worms will feed on! You can add any kind of fruit or vegetable scraps (except potatoes or citrus fruits), coffee grounds, eggshells, etc., into your bin every week or two – this will ensure that your worms have enough food to survive and create nutrient-rich castings for you!
Once you have all these items ready, you’re ready to start vermicomposting! Simply place your bedding material into the bottom of your container followed by some food scraps on top – make sure not to overload it with too much food at once as this could cause an imbalance in your system’s pH levels.
After adding your worms and closing up the lid securely, all that’s left is to keep an eye out for ideal conditions such as temperature and moisture levels as well as feeding them regularly until they establish themselves over time.
With proper care and maintenance, you should soon be able to reap the benefits of having nutrient-rich castings from vermicomposting!
Here is a great video demonstration as well!
What to Feed Your Worms
Soft fruits and vegetables are ideal for them since they provide a lot of nutrition with minimal effort. Some great options include apples, carrots, cucumbers, bananas, pumpkins – basically anything that is soft enough for them to break down easily.
Other great sources of food include coffee grounds and filters, tea bags without staples or strings, eggshells (which provide calcium), newspaper strips (unprinted parts only), shredded cardboard or paper towels. It’s important NOT to feed them meat, dairy products or oily foods as these can lead to an imbalance in your bin’s pH levels and introduce pests such as flies into your composting system.
In terms of how much you should feed them – generally speaking you want to aim for adding 1/2 pound of food scraps every 2 weeks.
This will ensure that there is enough material available so that the worms don’t run out of food but also won’t overwhelm the system by having too much at once.
You can also add other ingredients such as soil or wood ash if needed – this will help increase the nutrient content in the end product (worm castings).
It’s also worth remembering that worms don’t have mouths so they rely on their sense of touch and smell when looking for food; this means that you should spread out the scraps evenly across the surface so they’re able to find them easier instead of having all of it concentrated in one area!
Where to Get Composting Worms
The most popular option is buying them online from a reputable retailer, as this allows you to find the exact type and quantity of worms that will best suit your needs.
It also makes it easy to compare prices between different sellers and find the best deal. However, if you’re looking for more of a “hands-on” approach when it comes to selecting your worms, then purchasing them locally from a bait shop or garden center might be more up your alley.
When selecting the type of worm for your vermicomposting system, it’s important to consider what kind of environment they need in order to survive. For example, some species prefer cooler temperatures while others may do better in warmer climates; certain species may also require deeper soil depths than others in order for them to thrive.
Red wigglers (Eisenia Fetida) are perhaps the most popular choice among home vermicomposters due to their ability to break down organic material quickly and efficiently while creating nutrient-rich castings at the same time. Other great options include European nightcrawlers (Dendrobaena Veneta), African nightcrawlers (Eudrilus Eugeniae) and Indian Blue Worms (Perionyx Excavatus)
How to Harvest Worm Castings
Harvesting worm castings is an important part of the vermicomposting process and can yield up to 20 times more usable fertilizer than regular compost. Worm castings are a nutrient-rich byproduct of the digestive processes of worms, full of beneficial microbes, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium that help plants of all kinds grow and flourish.
There are two main ways to harvest worm castings: hand-sorting or sifting. Hand-sorting involves manually separating the worms from the finished compost with your hands while sifting requires a screen or mesh material used to separate the large pieces from small or powdery particles left over after digestion has occurred.
Both methods are effective but may require more time if you have a larger amount of material to sort through or finer particles that need to be separated out.
When you’re ready to begin harvesting, you’ll want to remove any uneaten food scraps or bits of paper before starting as these won’t have been digested yet and could contaminate your final product if not removed beforehand.
After this, you can begin either hand sorting or sifting depending on what method works best for you and your setup.
If using either method yields an excessive amount of worms in the process, you don’t necessarily need to dispose of them; simply return them back into the bin along with some fresh bedding material such as shredded newspaper or cardboard so they can start again right away!
When it comes time for storing your freshly harvested worm castings either short-term or long-term, make sure they are kept cool (below 70°F) in airtight containers with adequate ventilation holes punched in them (to reduce moisture buildup). This will help ensure that their nutrients won’t degrade over time before you decide when and how you plan on using them in your garden!
David, the founder of The Garden Fixer, started with a passion for gardening in 2012. He has continued his passion for gardening and desire to improve his skills and wanted to share his journey and helpful knowledge with other like-minded individuals.
He launched The Garden Fixer as an outlet for those interested in learning more about Gardening in hopes they can take what they learn and apply it for themselves!