Saturday, March 31, 2012

How to make a worm bin

Saraiah's worm bin with newsprint drawings from college art class days.   We shredded uncolored newsprint for our worm bin bedding, then got it nicely damp, suitable for helping the worms to breathe through their skin as they do.
 My daughter Saraiah turned six this week.  She has every kind of toy she could ever want, and really what she loves to do most is draw and dress up.  I wanted to give her a gift that she could enjoy all year, instead of enjoying with it for a week or even a day, then forgetting about it.  The other kids seemed to think a worm bin was an odd idea for a present for her, so I figured I'd ask her myself.

Slyly, I asked, "what do you want for your birthday?" "I don't know." she replied. "I would like a real puppy."  "Well, I know we can't get another puppy right now.  What about some worms?  Would you like a worm bin?"  "Yeah, that would be cool! (big smile and squeezy hug)"  And that was it.  I had to figure out how to make a worm bin.  I didn't think she'd remember that conversation because we'd had many conversations about what she'd like, the items changing every time she saw a new thing a friend had, or saw an advertisement somewhere.

I think she was happily surprised with her present.  It wasn't the only thing she got...she's a girly girl, so we gave her a flowery hairbrush, a mirror and headband, her very own shovel for her garden, some pink gloves and a little flowery hand rake for the worm bin.  Today she informed me that she had moved two new garden worms into the bin and had fed them a bit of wilted lettuce.  I think the present is a success.  If you'd like to try a worm bin in your home, here's what to do.

Drill holes in the bottom of your bin for drainage and aeration.  The worms will produce worm compost tea, a liquid rich in nutrients that you can pour over your garden.  It can drain here...or you can devise a better solution than me.  

Get some food for your wormies, preferably something soft.  It can't be starchy, citrusy or oniony.  No meats, oils or breads.  

Get a little dirt from your garden.  This was some well rotted compost I had gathered from a log in the goat pen for a new garden bed in my upper yard.  This part is not really necessary, I've read, but I feel like wormies might like a little taste of nature. Other sources say it's very helpful because it provides grit, which helps the worms to grind their food in their little gullet, somewhat like a chicken does.
Get some worms!  My friend dawn kindly rehomed about fifty of her worms with me.  She told me they will reproduce every seven days, so I guess once they feel settled in, I'll be having a growing population.  If you don't have a friend like Dawn, there are many sources online.  From all the worm bin people I've talked to, the most successful worm bin worms are called "red wigglers."  They are the most efficient at eating up the goods and producing righteously good compost for your garden or houseplants.  
My friend sent them with some paper bedding from their former home, as well a some carrot peel snacks for the road.  She told me that I should keep them very still as I transported them so I wouldn't stress them out, and that I should leave them alone for a week while they settle into their new place.  She said they wouldn't really eat much in that first week.  
Look closely...there they are in the middle of the carrot shreds!  She told me to put them in the corner of the bin, cover them up and leave them be.
I sprinkled the dirt over the moistened newsprint bedding.   
Green lettuce sprinkled in the bin, for when they start to have an appetite again.

My hubby drilled holes in the shape of a flower on the lid of the bin for Saraiah.

We took an extra lid to go beneath the bin, then put some old wooden blocks on it to elevate the bin. so air and drainage could flow.

There's the bin all propped up kind of awkwardly.  It was better after we moved it into the garage.  

There's Saraiah meeting her worms.  She was very excited to take a quick peek at them.  

1 comment:

  1. Instead of a puppy, you gave her pet worms. adorable!!! I really should do this too, Sienna LOVES dirt and stuff.


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