Small and Simple Worm Compost Bin

I have wanted to compost for years but the idea of taking my kitchen scraps outside to the compost bin in the middle of winter has kept me from being proactive.  I had even purchased an outdoor tumbling compost bin and it sat for over a year, completely empty.  When I stumbled across the idea of worm composting I knew it was right for me!  An indoor compost bin AND free worms for my garden.  According to my research, worms will double in numbers every 3 to 5 months, so by spring I should be able to throw some into my garden.

You can make your worm bin as small as 5 gallons or as large as necessary for your kitchen scraps.  Be sure to buy a dark colored bin because worms do not like light and will stay in the center of the bin.  I wanted to keep my worm bin small, so I started with an 8 gallon bin.

Drill several 1/8″ holes into the lid

Drill holes about 5 inches apart across the bottom of the bin on all sides

Shred some newspaper to fill bin about half way and wet down with a spray bottle until very moist.  Mix and spray again until the paper has the consistency of a rung out sponge. (I recommend wearing rubber gloves to prevent newsprint stains on your hands)

Fluff the paper and separate any clumps.

Add worms.  I bought my nightcrawlers from Walmart.

Close the lid and let “rest” 1 to 2 days before adding food scraps.

Spray down with water bottle as needed to keep bin moist.

Do not keep your bin in direct sunlight or very cold areas.

What to feed your worms:

-Breads and Grains

-Cereal

-Coffee Grounds and Filters

-Tea Bags

-Fruits

-Vegetables

DO NOT feed these to your worms:

-Dairy Products

-Fats

-Meats

-Animal Waste

-Oils

After adding food, add a little bedding.  Your worm bin should not smell.  If it begins to smell, you need to add more bedding.

Here is a great troubleshooting website:

http://www.allthingsorganic.com/How_To/07.asp

The following instruction on how to harvest your castings is from this very helpful website:

http://www.composting101.com/worm-composting.html

“Once the contents of your bin have turned to worm castings — brown, earth-looking stuff — it’s time to harvest the castings and give your worms new bedding. Worm castings can be harvested anywhere form two and a half months to every six months, depending on how many worms you have and how much food you’ve been giving them.”

“There’s more than one way of harvesting worm castings, but one popular method is to move everything to one side of the bin. Then push the partially composed food to the middle and add additional food scraps. Replace the lid. The worms will head for their food. Once they’ve relocated to the food pile — it should take about two weeks — simply put on a pair of gloves and remove the worm castings without taking out any worms. Once they’ve been harvested, replace the bedding.”

I will post updates as I add food and see the results from my worm compost bin.  Thanks for reading!

Cindy Dorfsmith

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3 comments

  1. very cool! How often do you have to add food, I wonder? And keeping it wet during warmer weather could be a several times a day event, I’m thinking. So I don’t know that I could maintain a worm bin unless I want to haul it with me in the revolving door of life in two homes.

    I do have composting bins at both places and take some dirt out every year, so I wonder if I could support worms as well as a composter especially as the home population dwindles… from 5 to 3 definately reduced the amount of compostables…

  2. Thanks Sue! I imagine it would be difficult to keep worms between two houses.

    How much you feed the worms all depends on how big your bin is, how many worms you have, and how often you feed them. Generally speaking, you should add your food about once a week. You should watch and judge if you are adding too much or not enough by how much the worms eat within a week or two.

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