There are so many different options for worm bins in your home. This blog post could go on forever with all the options. Today I’m going to tell you what I have in my backyard and why I have it. Interning at Tilth Alliance, helping to monitor their worm bins made me learn a LOT! I have had the opportunity to monitor the worms in all sorts of different types of worm bins. I’ve worked with the “Apartment Style worm bins”, gravity fed worm bins (where you get your castings from the bottom), homemade plastic bins and larger wooden worm bins (which I’m now calling The Wooden Worm Box). There are benefits to all of these bins. I don’t necessarily recommend going for a large bin when you are starting off unless you have the space and know you are ready to commit, but if you are (ready to commit), then these bins are the way to go. I encourage people to have them in their gardens if they want a good amount of castings and have a fair amount of green waste they accumulate (and really like worms!).
In my backyard I have two of these Wooden Worm Boxes. They are approximately 1.5 feet deep, 2 feet wide and 4 feet long. We are a family of four and sometimes five. We juice a lot and we also produce a lot of green waste via kitchen scraps and garden clippings. Recycling my organic waste is of huge importance for me but I never put my kitchen waste in my compost because I don’t want rats. Reducing my outputs, keeping the energy within my home space and recycling it to more usable energy is one of the principals of permaculture and as I learn and grow my business I’ve been determined to figure out ways to reduce, re-use and re-cycle. Vermicompost is amazing in that way. Worms will eat most everything (that doesn’t mean that I put everything in my worm bins). Having two bins ensures I have a place to recycle my food scraps and creates an amazing soil amendment. I haven’t purchased fertilizer this year at all since I’ve upped my compost and vermicompost game.
These large worm bins are fairly easy to make, although they will require you to cut wood and get out your hammer, so if you like that sort of thing you can get the directions for this design here, at Tilth Alliance. These bins will last approximately 4-6 years depending on location and usage. The hinges can be recycled into a new bin later on, but the wood is completely biodegradable and chemical free. In my mind, I think this is a win considering many worm bins you find on the internet are made of plastic. So plan on vamping up your worm bins after a number of years, just like you would your raised garden beds.
Another reason why I like these bins is because they are large enough to keep worms alive during winter. During cold spells, worms will migrate towards the middle of the bin, clumping together and will keep themselves warm. I’ve had smaller bins and keeping temperature under control during cold or hot weather has always been a problem. These larger bins definitely have better temperature consistency. During really dry periods providing your worms with water may be necessary, but unlike smaller bins there is more space for the worms to find pockets of moisture and stay happy.
Feeding your worms in the Wooden Worm Box is easy. Feed them on one side till castings appear mostly finished, be sure to feed about 1-2 inches below the top layer of material, this will keep flies down. Start moving your feeding sessions over towards the middle when castings start to appear mostly completed on the side you started on, the worms will migrate towards the food. As bedding turns to mostly castings, little by little, keep going–move your feed over to the other side where bedding is fresh as bedding slowly turns to castings. Once castings appear mostly complete (you should not be able to recognize hardly anything) you can start by harvesting on the side you first started feeding your worms. You will be surprised at how many castings you will harvest! Several 5 gallon buckets just off one side! From here, you will rebuild your bedding and start the process all over again!
There is so much to vermicomposting, this is just the tip of the iceberg, but try these bins out! If you are in the Seattle area I can also make one for you and deliver it to your home. We can work together to and I can teach you how to take care of your little crawlers. It’s good stuff friends. Happy worming!