Friday, April 28, 2006

Worm Bin Composting | Start with the Bin

When you decide to compost with worms, that initial decision is the first of many. Aspects of what you want to accomplish will have an effect on what you finally do.

  • Will you compost outside with a conventional compost pile and add worms to that?
  • Will you compost in worm bins?
  • If you compost in worm bins, what size will they be?
  • Are you composting to handle your organic waste, for the by product, or both?
  • Do you want the bin in the house, the garage, or out-doors?
  • Do you want a plastic bin, a wood bin or perhaps you want to be creative with something out of the ordinary.

Whatever you decide, there is a plethora of materials out there to use.

I am a commercial grower and therefore my main bins are of commercial size. They are 4'x8' Fiberglas heated bins. Here is a picture of one:

Anyone who is a serious gardener and recognizes the benefit of using worm castings in their soil building program must also recognize that anything smaller than a 4'x8' bin would be insignificant. A bigger bin is easier to work and produces a great deal more product. The Fiberglas are nice but expensive. You could build one out of plywood quite easily and coat it in paraffin wax to help preserve the wood. In this way you can customize the size to fit your needs and space requirements.

If you want to do an in-door bin, or an in-bin as I call them here is a sample of that:

These can be made out of any plastic tote. It simply needs to be a solid color, not opaque as the worms do not like light and would not be happy in a bin that allowed light in all around. I like the attached lid of this bin and the hard plastic. Vents can be found at a builders supply store. Vents must be put in the top and the bottom as well as the sides. You can't have too many vents as long as you do not compromise the integrity of the tote. You need to be able to move the bin.

I have had people ask me about using old freezers, bath tubs, I heard of one person modifying an old phonograph to be a worm bin, and another had the bin in the window seat of the kitchen window. Really, you can use anything that will hold bedding material and will allow for the escape of excess moisture and the circulation of air. The less accommodating to these needs the more maintenance will be required.

Next I will show you the tools I use the most in working my bins. In the smaller in-bins the main tools are your hands and some rubber gloves.

Happy worming,

Christy - Wormnwomn

Monday, April 24, 2006

Worm Bin Composting | The Season Begins

While I do grow my worms in heated bins which keeps them active right through winter, with the warmer weather of Spring the activity in the worm bin picks up and the work begins anew.

In November I work to get as much of the finished material out of the bin so that I can fill the it up with as much fresh material fresh material as I can. Since I am somewhat of a fair-weather worm farmer, when the weather outside gets real inclimate I tend to hibernate a bit. Therefore, the worms tend to get a little more neglected. They are okay though because there is plenty of fresh bedding to get them through. But as the weather changes the fresh stuff disappears and the time draws near that I must once again start removing finished material and making room for more fresh bedding. It is time to start feeding daily again and getting the worms fat and happy.

It's wonderful how nature works, as right when it's time to start feeding the compost bin again with all the winter kill that covers the garden, the worms are ready to get busy too. Most of the material that goes in the compost bin now will be carbon material and will require quite a bit of moisture. Layer it with as much food waste as you can come up with and the worms will be happy.