What you’ll need:
A twelve to fourteen gallon plastic tub with a lid. Make sure it’s at least eight inches deep.
Soil and strips of newspaper from only the black-and-white pages
Dried manure from the garden center
A pound of worms. Red wigglers, also called manure worms or redworms, work best.
While you’re waiting for your worms to arrive, find a place to keep your bin. Keep it outside in a shady spot or in your basement. Worms like temperatures around 70 degrees, but can tolerate from 40°F up to about 85°F. Keep this in mind when choosing your spot. If your bin is outside, keep the lid on so other animals can’t get in.
Fill your bin with newspaper strips on the bottom, then soil and dried manure, then a few more newspaper strips on top. When the worms arrive, moisten everything in the bin, but not too wet. You want it to be like a damp sponge. Now the fun part: Dump the worms in!
Watch them wiggle and wriggle into the soil.
You can start adding food right away. Here are some suggestions for worm cuisine:
- Pieces of fruit (Worms go bananas for banana peels!)
- Orange peels
- Egg shells
- Carrot scrapings
- Pasta, bread crusts, and cereal
- Used coffee grounds and filters (My worms LOVE espresso.)
- Used tea bags
There are also some “don’ts” you need to know about. Don’t feed them meat, fish, dairy or very salty foods. Take it easy on the fruit. Don’t leave the food sitting on top. Use a little garden fork or trowel to mix it into the top layer of soil. Don’t overfeed your worms! If they haven’t eaten what you gave them the last time, don’t give them any more food yet. Just a handful every few days is probably plenty for one pound of worms. Don’t let your worm farm dry out. Add a little water when necessary to keep your worms moist.
What can you do with your worms, besides feed them? Here are some ideas:
- Weigh the bin when you first add the worms, then weigh it again when they’ve finished making compost. Does it weigh less? Or more?
- Take out a few worms and wash them off. Measure them. Race them. Even let them paint pictures by wiggling through non-toxic paints. Wash them again and put them back in the bin when you’re done.
- Find out which foods your worms like best. Put a different food in each corner of the bin. Come back the next day and see which “restaurant” the worms visit most.
Fill up the rest of the bin with soil and newspaper strips and start again. Or, if you live in a place with cold winters as I do, dump the entire bin under the garden plants, worms and all. Then take a break from farming and order new worms for your bin in the spring.
Do you have a worm bin at your house? Let me know about it!
Where to get red wigglers:
The Worm Factory (Canada)
See also Three Trees Farm’s stunning abstract artwork painted entirely by worms!!!
What do you know about earthworms? Maybe you already know a lot. Here’s what I learned while I was writing Winnie Finn, Worm Farmer.
Parts of a worm (click the image to enlarge)