The story of our evolving Worm Bin
Our failures and Success!
I am fast becoming an expert on how NOT to do things. My gut has been tugging at me that our family should do better with conservation since our environment seems to be suffering from something that is causing changes to our weather and ability to grow food due to too much heat, too much water, not enough water etc. My husband and I first made a solar oven which is another story, then made a bin for worm composting to recycle food scraps and give back to the earth. I read constantly about both of these issues and thought that it would be simple but……
Day 1 The worm composting bin
This is how not to do it
First I purchased three - 18 gallon plastic storage containers, a soft gray color for a nice clean simple look. I drew a little art work on the top and drilled small holes on the sides and bottom. Put a plastic screen in the bottom, shredded newspaper, gathered leaves, a little soil, dampened the newspaper, added a small amount of decomposing veggi scraps then added about 400 red wigglers from a local bait shop.
I put the container into another container to catch any possible fluid, put the lid on and had a talk with myself that I would adjust to these creepy worms. One day soon I will be more comfortable with my new worm family and will be able to touch them. I was so happy with this accomplishment…
Two hours later to my squeeling panic attack, our new worms were crawling out of their new home. Crawling is a nice word and slimming out of the box was more like it. They were hanging in clumps off the inside handles. They were on the outside! I just could not touch one, I had not made friends yet and how could they not like their new home? I frantically found objects to help me scoop them up and put them back. I took off the decorative top and put a board over the container and bricks on top. I slumped back to get my composure.
Back to the computer to research why they could be climbing out because what I had read before was to make this simple worm bin and do what I had done. With further reading I found that this was common for the worms to escape the first day (Or was it?) Possibly I should have let their bedding settle a few days before adding the worms..
My husband came home from a long day at work and admired the new worm bin. I told him that they were trying to escape but I thought I had fixed that problem.
Day 2 5:30 AM………
I ventured out to the porch only to discover that there were worms everywhere. They were still escaping! My husband came to the rescue and in his boxer pajamas and crawled around the porch picking up escaping worms and putting them back in the container. I started quickly researching the internet again to see what I could do now since I should have waited about a week to let this new home settle to make a more inviting environment and I should have not fed right away.
I decided to make another home with larger air vent holes with screen wire. I read where you do not want to put them in prison and they will stay if their environment is right but I need them to stay so they can make their environment right because I already have them! A few did try to return to the bin on their own when the sun came up because they did not like the light. I am not sure how many actually got away and how many are left at this point. I still cannot touch them no matter how hard I try…….
Continued day two afternoon…..
I dampened part of a newspaper that was not shredded with bottled spring water and laid it across the top of the worm bedding and worms. I realized that I had dampened the shredded paper with city water and this had chlorine and that could have been a mistake. This new non shredded dampened paper seemed to settle the worms.
I decided not to transfer the worms to the new container because they were not climbing out anymore. My husband and I cleaned out a shed and decided to let them have this space so they would be more protected. We checked occasionally to see if we had any more escaping and there were none so we decided to go to bed and hope for the best.
5:30 Am we ventured out to the shed and tiptoed in with a flashlight looking for escaped worms. To our surprise there were none. They were snuggled under the top layer of the newspaper cover and laying in and around the food scraps. This was exciting. During the day, only occasionally, I peeked in to see if they were ok and getting enough oxygen.
Day three evening we decided to put a small amount of food scraps under the slightly damp newspaper. We gave them a sparingly amount of cucumber scraps, a tiny piece of tomato, a few peas, a few pieces of lettuce and carrot peeling. We will adjust according each day as we see if they are eating the new scraps. So far things are looking up with our new friends.
Well, it has been quite awhile (months) and all our worms in the bin just vanished or died. I did not have the heart to try again before talking to someone that had real experience with feeding and raising worms.
I was advised to put the worms in the ground. A family member had a worm bin at the side of his house for years. They simply spread scraps over a bricked in area and the worms would come up at night to eat.
One day I was digging in the dirt to get an area ready to plant. To my surprise there were many worms and these were the same type (red wigglers) that we had in the plastic worm bins. It seems that the worms that had managed to escape from the first attempt found a place to live and raise their families. They made their own worm bin next to the back of the house! Wooohoo!
Oh by the way, we are composting our food scraps, leaves and grass clippings in a compost bin and that is doing well, we just temporarly gave up on the worm bin.
So here we go again!!
The new improved outdoor worm bin
Inspector Katie checking things out.......
Now we need to make the hindged lid coming soon.................
The new lid hinged in the middle so you can lift each side seperatly to feed.
Worm bin located at the side of the house.
Well things have not gone so well today with the new worm bin, we had over six inches of rain just today on top of two inches the two days before......more
Yes this is water surrounding the new worm bin and water is inside as well. But the good thing is we have not added the worms. We will have to rethink the location of the worm bin. This was a record breaking rainfall and the entire city had severe flooding.................
Here is the new news!
My neighbor has been raising worms now since I started trying to raise worms and his worms are multiplying and doing great. So, I have decided to do this his way.
BEFORE YOU GET YOUR WORMS:
Get some peat moss and soak it in water for 24-48 hours. You need about 12 inches of this soaked peat moss. It should be the consistancy of a just squeezed out sponge. Add a little dirt/compost/sand then some cardboard pieces. Put very small holes in one end of the bottom of the container and tilt the container in the direction of those very small holes. This will drain the "tea" from the container. If you raise this container you can catch this tea. I will post photo's soon.
You may need a light to use for a short time to place over the container to encourage the worms to stay. Once they are settled you will should be able to turn off the light.
It has been six months now since I posted this last method and the worms are doing great! They are having babies and eggs are everywhere. I have been feeding them small amounts of bunny poop and I give them small amounts every other day. I also give them cardboard and I keep a feed sack over them which they are eating as well.
Now it is getting time to seperate them and take their gift of composted soil and spread it on the garden. I have many more worms than I started with and may have to make second container. I used soaked peat moss with cardboard scraps, some soil from the back yard (Very small amount). I have had to top off their container once with extra soaked peat moss because I felt they were slowing down with their eating.
I keep a water can nearby and when I feed them I sprinkle their bed with water. There is a drainage hole in the bottom of the container and I catch the tea that comes from the container and I use it on the garden. First I water it down until it looks like tea then I pour it on the soil under the plants.
It has been over a year now and the worms are doing great and we have expanded to our keyhole gardens.
This has been our worm bin for over a year now. This is a handwashing sink purched from our lumber company. It was about $50.00. My husband built a wood frame around it when we were using it for an outdoor clothes washing area. We decided to use it for the worms and put it inside the bunny house. It has a drain on the bottom and the worm juice goes into the bucket.
I put a piece of screen down in the bottom drain hole so the worm castings do not go through, only the water.
We do not put a lid on it and just keep cardboard over the top. We put a low wattage bulb for night so the worms will not leave. I believe they would stay just fine because we have forgotten to turn the light on before and nobody left that we know of.
I will lift the cardboard to show you the worms. I just fed them today some rabbit poop and some shredded paper. I never overfeed and only feed them when they have eaten all the food and are feeding on the cardboard. I water only about once a week and it will drain out the bottom.
I gently pulled back some of the soil/castings to show you the worms. There are probably several thousand worms in this bin. I will try and count when I harvest next time.
This is the light over the bin
We use bunny poop to feed the worms. Their cage has a trough that catches the bunny poop. This is the drain going outside from the bunny tray. Look on the left hand side of this website and check out the Bunny section and you can see how I collect bunny poop and their cage.
The bunny poop drains out to an inexpensive kitchen drain basket.
One of our keyhole gardens. In the middle of this tall raised bed is a compost bin. There are worms in this wire ring. I feed them small amounts of compost and put cardboard over the top. They are remaining in the compost bin. So far this is working well. I have carrots planted in the inside of this bed. This small composter in the middle is to keep this bed fertilized.
This is another keyhole garden. It is fall now so I have newly seeded lettuce emerging as well as radishes and cilantro. Another worm bin in the middle to fertilize this bed. Again I simply just keep cardboard on top of this small compost/worm bin. I have noticed that it provides a good eco system. There a few frogs that are visiting this bed.
This is our strawberry raised bed. A small worm bin in the middle, I feed all of the raised bed keyhole gardens a small amound about twice a week of food scraps in the center. There are always worms there when I pull back the cardboard to feed them.
We have been in a drought and even though everything is stressed where the worm compost and worm tea has been applied the outcome is good. We have had an abundance of bell peppers.
Hope this has given you some good information. I am always posting our failures and success stories. Please stay awhile and look at our many topics.