Archive for the Worms Category

Making a Homemade Worm Bin with Kids

Posted in Worms with tags , , , , , , , on November 22, 2010 by PickMeYard
A red wiggler worm. He’s smiling.

I have owned a worm bin for several years that I bought from Can-O-Worms.  I like my Can-O-Worms, but it was expensive.  I am honestly surprised at how great our homemade worm bins came out and I like them better! 

My red worms (Eisenia foetida)  have done a wonderful job of eating our garbage and we get lots of extra worms because they’re happy.  I  might have as many as 20,000 red worms in my bin.  My son decided that he wanted his own worm bin so I figured we might as well make more than one.  We invited our 4-H group over and all the kids made their own worm bins.

A homemade red wiggler, worm bin.

We used 10-gallon sized Rubbermaid bins.  I like these because they have a handle at each end that keeps the bins from sitting too tightly together when they’re stacked on top of each other.  Dark colors are best because the worms need darkness.  Bins that let light through won’t work.  

Two finished homemade worm bins.

I printed out instructions from ehow.com.  I won’t go into all the details because you can click on the link to ehow.com and see them.  We did a few things differently though.  We used a drill with a 1/4  bit to make holes in the lid, upper sides and the bottom of the top bin.  The holes are small enough to allow air in and moisture out without letting worms escape.  We put the bin inside a separate bin that we didn’t drill any holes into.  This allows the liquid from the worms to drain into the lower bin and be contained.  That liquid is great stuff to put on plants and shouldn’t be wasted.  We placed the lid from the second bin underneath them.  If ants are a problem, water can be put into the lid and it will create a moat that the ants won’t be able to cross to get inside the bin.

The styrofoam blocks allow the top bin to sit on them. The liquid has already started to drain into the bottom bin.

We put a couple of styrofoam blocks in the bottom bin to keep some distance between the two bins.  There’s already a little bit of liquid from the worms accumulating in the bottom bin.

The top bin stacks into the bottom bin. The worms stay in the top bin. The liquid drains into the bottom bin.

The red wiggler worms stay in the top bin.  The liquid drains into the bottom bin.  Worms need moisture, but not too much.  They don’t like to be soaking wet all the time, although damp is good.  They do like to be covered with a damp newspaper or damp cardboard.  Think of it as their cozy blanket.  The damp newspaper keeps them from overheating in the summer and helps them stay warmer in the winter.  They love to be 70 degrees.  This isn’t always possible, (I’d love to be in 70 degrees all the time too), but there are ways to keep them happy.

Never let them be in the direct sun.  They should be in a shady spot that doesn’t overheat them.  They shouldn’t be left out in the rain either or left to freeze to death.  We had many nights of 20 degree weather last year and I never moved my worm bin.  However, they had lots of castings and garbage/food that provided warmth and they were covered in several layers of newspaper.  The fact that we’re in Florida helps too.  A worm bin in a cold climate should probably be brought into a garage or wrapped with some insulation.

Entire books have been written on how to take care of red wiggler worms.  A great one is Worms Eat My Garbage by Mary Appelhof.

There was nothing difficult about making this bin.  The hardest part was having to go into Wal-Mart to get the supplies.

The inside of the worm bin.

We purchased some coconut coir (fiber) from the garden department and let it sit in a 5-gallon bucket of water for a couple of hours.  This softened it up so we could shred it to pieces.  The kids were great at this.  (I did the soaking before everybody arrived).  This is the best bedding for the worms to start their new home in.  I took some of the red wigglers out of my established worm bin.  I threw in some of their worm castings as well.  We dampened some newspaper and cardboard to cover them up with.  Then we put the lid on.

A cozy blanket of damp newspaper and cardboard.

We didn’t add food right away.  On the second day we gave them some apple.  I threw in some grit for them as well.  They need it for digestion.  Dirt will serve as grit for them.

Vermicompost.

Grayson's very own red wiggler bin full of pet worms.

Nothing makes my kids happier than digging in the dirt and finding worms … it keeps me young too.

Come grow with us!

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I’m Gonna Go Eat Worms

Posted in Worms with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2010 by PickMeYard

Can-O-Worms

 

This container houses our worms.  Red Wigglers (Eisenia fetida) to be exact.  The worms eat our garbage and turn it into black gold.  I used to buy the worm castings (for compost) in bags and I paid a pretty penny for them.  When I realized I could easily keep my own worms and have my own castings, I ordered a Can-O-Worms.  I couldn’t get it fast enough, even though I had no idea what  to expect from keeping my own worms.  

Red wigglers are kept in a bin because they need soil that is extremely high in organic matter, unlike most gardens and lawns.  It is not likely that the worms would survive unless your garden is very rich in organic matter.  There are hundreds of different species of earthworm, but the Eisenia is an excellent choice for vermicomposting

I’ve had my worm bin filled with worms for two years now.  I haven’t had a single problem and  I’ve found them to be extremely easy to take care of.   I take our kitchen scraps such as  paper,coffee grounds, tea bags, old rice, pasta, melon rinds, pizza crusts, crushed eggshells, old bread and feed it to the worms. I place the scraps under a thin cover of newspaper under the top lid on the bin.  Sometimes I don’t feed them for 2-3 weeks, but they always have something in there to eat.  They take longer to consume some scraps that I put in the bin.  It is recommended that you chop up the scraps.  I admit that I rarely do that.  They have no trouble eating their way through the larger stuff.  They absolutely adore watermelon rind.  I just set the whole rind flesh side down and every worm in the bin will hastily go right to it.  They won’t leave that rind until it is gone. 

Inside the Worm Bin

 

I ordered the Can-O-Worms because it was the easiest for me at the time and I really like the design, especially the spigot at the bottom.  I keep the spigot open and I get worm tea daily.  However, any container can be turned into a worm bin. It must conserve moisture and provide total darkness for the worms.  Some people even keep their worm bins inside their homes.  My husband politely asked me to put ours outside. 

5 Gallon Bucket Worm Bin

 

Plastic Bin Used as a Worm Bin

 

A Concrete Worm Bin with Cover

 

Trash Can Worm Bin (no drainage, is kept outdoors & sealed)

 

Worm castings  are considered “black gold” because it’s superior over ordinary compost.  The nutrients in the castings have a time-release quality that is stable and available to plants for over five years when added to the soil. It will not burn your plants so it can be added to the soil any way you choose.   The castings can act as a hormone to give your plants a boost. 

Our Worm Bin Today

 

If you were to get really hungry, earthworms are nutritious.  I have a book that has quite a few recipes for cooking with earthworms.  This book, called “The Worm Book” by Loren Nancarrow and Janet Hogan Taylor is the best book I have found for all the information needed to set up and keep worms.   The book also goes in-depth about worm biology, the different types of worms, starting and maintaining a bin, troubleshooting problems, cool facts, and of course…the recipes.  Another good book is “Worms Eat My Garbage” by Mary Appelhof.  There is a great blog on worms called “Monster Worms“. 

We enjoy our worms and we’re always proud to show them off.  They have been a very educational experience for my children.  They are safe for the children to handle and have no smell.  We love that the worms recycle our garbage into wonderful, nutrient dense compost.  Recycle…garbage…landfills.  I believe these worms are going to play a huge part in our planet’s future. 

Come grow with us!