Build a worm farm!
Everyone wants and deserves the richness that vermicompost can produce in their gardens. This so called “Black Gold” farmers refer to is good old fashion worm castings. You can build a worm farm that creates this rich fertilizer for yourselves out of table scraps and grow unbelievable good plants with amazing benefits that worm castings can provide. Utilizing the Red Wiggler (Eisenia Fetida) worm and a little know how, your off to a magnificent start.
What You Will Need
- Red worms or Eisenia Fetida
- Worms are known by many names. Some of these names include red wiggler, trout worm, tiger worm, brandling worm, and even Californian earthworm. There is many more names but these are the most common after the red worm.
- The average size of a red wiggler is 2-4 inches long and have bands of light to dark red. Worms can have a yellow tip. Worms have a slight flatness to the bottom and the rest of the worm being round.
- Worms are specifically adapted to decaying food waste and make excellent choice for your composter.
- European Nightcrawlers or Eisenia hortensis or Dendrobaena veneta
- A medium – small earthworm averaging about 1.5 grams each when fully grown.
- Generally blueish to grey and maybe some pinkish in color with a band or strip on one end. The ends of the worms can become much lighter in color as they mature and look yellowish.
- Two plastic bins
- plastic bins
- these tubs do not need to be very deep. These composting worms generally work in the top 4 to 6 inches of the mixture.
- 18 quart size at least 12 inches deep.
- Bins should be dark as possible, as worms do not like the light.
- Any drill will work in this application. A small cordless one is my preference for ease of use.
- 3/32 drill bit works great
- 3/16 drill bit
- Brick or small flower pot
- A brick, flower pot or anything you could use to seperate the containers when we set them inside each other so there is room for drainage etc…
- Old newspapers and some household waste.
- Black and white papers work the best. Stay away from comics or waxy feeling advertisement papers you find inside the paper. Inks and coatings are bad for the worms and they usually will not eat anything that contains these types of print or coating.
To build a worm farm, use your drill 3/32 bit and drill to make about 20 holes in the bottom of one of your tubs. Use the 3/16 bit to make hole air holes around the top of the same bin just a couple inches below the top. I usually go around the tub twice, one row at about 1 inch down and the other about 1 to 1 1/1 below the first line of holes. Make sure to leave the second bin with no holes.
Make Your Bedding
Shred your paper fairly small as the worms can turn this to compost much quicker that larger strips. You can mix in some corrugated cardboard, but too much. Worms will actually lay eggs, or better called cocoons in these corrugated areas allowing the new work some fresh material to start life out with. Mixing some old leaves as long as they are not too waxy or strong scented houseplant leaves.
Mix Feed into the Bedding
Table scraps work good, just make sure you do not use meat products, fat or butter or any dairy. Go real slow with adding citric substances like oranges pineapple or grapefruits. Coffee and tea grounds make great food for your new friends too. Worms like darkness. Make sure you have a good cover over the bedding you just created. I have used a saturated piece of cardboard or the old cardboard egg cartons. Remember your worms will consume approximately their weight in food scraps daily when they get good and settled in. It may take them a day or two to get familiar with their new home. 1 lb of worms, use 1 lb of scraps. Do not over feed, if all the food isn’t gone the next day, wait a bit, they will get to work on it real soon.
I usually try to bury the food scraps to help with odor and flies and other insects that like to feed off of these types scraps. Make sure you wet the bedding down real thoroughly as worms do not like to be dry. They do not like to swim either as they breathe through their skin. The consistency of a wet sponge seems to work good in my beds.
Place the bin with no holes on the bottom to catch the water and moister that comes from the bin with your bedding. This collection of liquid does serve a purpose as I will mention a little later in this article. Put your brick or flower pot in the tub and set the bin with the holes on top of them.
Put Your New Wiggly Friends to Work
Now, add your red wigglers or the worm of your choice to your bedding and food mixture. Make sure you cover them up with some as worms really do not like the light. After short time they will become accustom to their new home and start the process of making you some black gold as farmers call it. Just don’t forget to feed and water your new friends and they will give a lot of service for some food and darkness!
Benefits of what you just created
After a few weeks you will see some vermicompost in the bin. It is dark in color and can be as fine as coffee grounds If you feed the worms only on one side of the bin, they will go to that side allowing you to collect the worm castings without having to sift out the worms. This detail will be addressed in another article. The juice that get caught in the bottom tub will serve wonders for your plants as a liquid fertilizer. You should dilute this juice as much as 20 to one and use it with a sprayer on leaves and the top of the plants soil to gain all the benefits worm compost has to offer. Build a worm farm is cheap, easy, and fun!