8 Quick Steps to Starting your Own Worm Bin
Composting with red worms is an inexpensive, eco-friendly way to make nutritious, organic fertilizer for your garden. With just a few minutes and some simple supplies, anyone can set up a worm bin. Here’s how:
#1. First, you will need a bin.
Worms aren’t picky, and just about any kind of bin will do. Plastic storage bins are a good choice, as are repurposed fish tanks. You’ll want the size to be around 10 gallons.
Before adding anything to the bins, it’s very important to rinse it out well to remove any toxic residues inside. If the bin is made out of wood, it should be lined with plastic before it’s used. Plastic garbage bags or a cheap shower curtain work well for this purpose.
#2. Next, you’ll need to make bedding.
Tear about 50 pages of newspaper into one-inch strips. Pages with colored print should not be used, as some colored ink is harmful to worms. When you’re finished, put the newspaper strips in a garbage bag or plastic container. Add water to them until they are moist, but not overly so. They should feel like a wet sponge. If they get too wet, more dry strips can be added to dry it up.
#3. Add bedding to the bin.
It will give the worms food, water, and air. To make sure worms get enough air, make sure that the bedding isn’t packed down too tight. The bin should be around 75% full of bedding.
2-4 cups of soil should be added on top of the bedding, to add beneficial microorganisms which will keep your worms healthy. Any kind of soil will do, whether it’s potting soil or from the backyard.
#4. Add worms
Now it’s time to add the worms, but before you do, make sure to weigh them. This way, you’ll know how many you have, so you will have an idea of how much to feed them.
#5. Time to Feed Your Worms
Feed your worms by lifting up the bedding and burying food scraps beneath it. They eat things that would usually get thrown out, like fruit and vegetable peels and cores, damaged produce, stale bread, and even pet hair. You should never compost oils or animal products such as meats or dairy. Citrus fruits can be composted, but only in very small quantities. Foods should be cut or broken into as small of pieces as possible before being added to the bin.
The food must be measured according to how many worms you have. Red worms eat about 3 times as much as they weight in a week, so if you started with one pound of worms, you’ll want to start by adding 3 pounds of food each week.
To ensure that you’re feeding the worms the right amount, check the bin every week to see if they’re eating everything, and adjust how much you feed them accordingly.
#6. Cover Your Bin
Finish the bin by placing a sheet of dry newspaper over the top of the bedding. This sheet will help minimize odors, maintain the correct moisture level, and discourage fruit flies from living in the bin. This sheet should be replaced regularly, whenever fruit flies show up, and whenever it gets too wet.
#7. Choose a Spot
Once everything is in place, choose a spot to keep it. It should not be near windows, heaters, or direct sunlight. If you keep it outside, choose a spot that it won’t get too wet. Use a lid made out of plastic, wood, or cloth to protect the bin. You can leave the lid slightly ajar to let air in, or drill holes in it.
All that’s left to do now is maintain the bin when it needs it. Feed your worms about once a week, and use a spray bottle to add water if the bedding starts to feel dry. If the bedding gets too wet, you can add some dry newspaper strips to soak up the extra water. Before you feed your worms each week, stir the bedding lightly to keep it fluffy, to ensure that the worms get enough air.