I recently came upon some big bins and decided to make them into a worm compost bin. The idea with composting is that you put your kitchen scraps into a pile and it rots. Regular composting uses bacteria and normal decomposition processes to turn the kitchen scraps into dirt. Worm composting uses worms to decompose the food scraps instead of bacteria. The idea is that the process will occur faster and it doesn’t take as much work.
I have had a compost bin in my yard for years. It has always turned food waste into dirt, but I have never been able to get the pile up to the desired temperature for it to do what it is supposed to. In short, my compost bins have always taken forever to change my kitchen scraps into dirt and frankly, I generally ended up burying half decomposed food chunks in my garden hoping that would help. I don’t know if it did or not.
With my new bins, I decided to try my hand at worm composting. I think this is going to be perfect for me because if the bin becomes hot (something I’ve never been able to do), the worms will die. So I need to keep the bin cool so the worms can do their thing. I’m seeing no problems so far.
Here is what I did. I took two 66 quart bins that I found and I drilled holes in the bottom of one of them. I drilled lots of holes that were about 1/16 inch in the bottom and along the lower parts of the side of one of the bins. This will allow water to escape so my worms don’t drown (but not big enough for my worms to escape). Then I put the holey bin inside the whole bin so that the worm juice doesn’t leak all over the floor. I’m really trying to make this seem more complicated and intricate, but really that is all I did, drill holes and put two bins together.
Then I tore up some paper and moistened it to use as worm food. I added some decomposing leaves that I found in the yard and a bit of dirt. I’ll be adding kitchen scraps (although you shouldn’t add meat or fat to your bin) as soon as my worms start doing their thing.
The thing is that I’m struggling to acquire worms. Sure I could buy them. A quick Google search yields loads of places to buy worms, but I’m cheaper than that. I also need to get the right kind of worms. Red wrigglers are the kind I need (although I feel funny every time I say ‘red wriggler’), and night crawlers just won’t do (one site said they will die in this kind of bin). Unfortunately my worm identification skills are weak and we’re doing some trial and error.
I already wrote about my first attempt to acquire worms and it was not completely successful. OK, the hour I spent with my son was extremely successful, but it only yielded about 2 worms. Again yesterday my son asked if we could go worm hunting and we grabbed the shovel and dug under rocks and in areas where I didn’t mind digging a little. We found another worm or two.
I had heard that cardboard would attract the worms, but I didn’t have success with that either. Where the big success came was putting lots and lots of water on an area of the lawn and apparently that makes the worms come up out of their holes and you can pick them up off the lawn. We got a couple dozen that way. I still don’t know if we got the right kind of worms, but we’ll see. At some point I may have to break down and buy some red wrigglers, but I’m not admitting defeat yet. I’ve heard things about mustard attracting worms and I just may have to try it.