Another Crack at the Worm Bin

January 18, 2008

The first time I tried to compost with worms, I had disastrous results.  After a few months my parents, who had a really healthy bin, gave me a batch of their worms complete with castings and newspaper.  It’s been going on for about four months now and has been quite successful though I still keep my fingers crossed in case things go south.  This winter I’ve kept them in the basement on a scrap piece of carpet on the concrete floor and they don’t seem to mind.  I feed them once a week with leftover scraps of vegetables and fruit that I collect in a stainless steel compost pail (with a lid!) on my kitchen counter.

To feed them, I put on rubber gloves, open up the worm bin, take out the top layer of newspaper and the second layer of shredded newspaper, exposing the layer of foodstuffs.  Then I dig in to the compost pail and pull out all the rotted foodstuffs that I collected the previous week.  This can be a little gross at times depending on what you’ve put in there: bread gets mouldy, tomatoes have dripped their juices over everything and there can be a slurry of stinky liquid at the bottom.  I gently squeeze out the liquid and layer the foodstuffs thinly over the entire surface of the bin.  Then I put the first and second layers of newspaper back on top.  The first layer of non-shredded newspaper (usually a whole section from the local paper) helps keep the moisture in the bin.  I usually try to keep the second layer of shredded newspaper around 2″ thick.   I put the top of the worm bin back on and that’s it.

Last weekend the snow melted and the temperature was really mild so I decided to trot my worms outside for a little trip.  Here’s what I saw when I pulled back the top newspaper layer:

So fat and happy hanging out on top of the second layer of shredded newspaper!  You can tell I need to add more shredded newspaper to their bin as there are a couple of carrots poking out on the bottom right.  Here’s a close-up of my worms:

Lots of bigs ones, a few small ones and a bunch of eggs.  I found a little baby:

And he was all, “Put me back, it’s too cold out here!”.  Here’s a shot of the eggs:

Here I am pulling away the second layer of shredded newspaper, digging down to the layer of foodstuffs:

A few weeks ago I threw in some old cloves of garlic which decided to sprout.  I pulled them out, found some of my worms entangled in the roots and shook them off:

I put the the foodstuff on, put the newspaper back and put the lid back on.  Then I lifted the whole top bin to check and see if there was any liquid on the bottom that had leached through.  I drained it into a bowl and dumped it on one of my flower beds.

I’m pretty happy about my worms and I hope they continue to enjoy their little house in the basement.

8 Responses to “Another Crack at the Worm Bin”

  1. jodi Says:

    Well,I’M impressed with your worm farming efforts! This is very informative, and maybe I’ll try raising some indoors too, one of these days. Thanks for writing about the adventure–and the photos are great, too.

  2. Hurray for you! I’ve decided to try it this year too but I haven’t received my worms yet. I’ll refer to your post when it comes time.

  3. Bentley Says:

    Way to go, Kathy!
    A true worm composting success story. It is not uncommon for newcomers to have worm bin melt-downs their first time out, but the KEY is sticking with it, as you have proven.

    The worms look very healthy! Keep up the good work!


  4. Becky Says:

    I compost with worms too! Aren’t they wonderful!

  5. Chris Says:

    Great post, I also plan on tackling the vermicompost this year.

  6. I am so fasinated by this. Keep updating us!

  7. Kathy Says:

    Thanks everyone! They seem to be pretty fat and happy. Their favourite food is cantaloupe and honeydew melon. I threw in some squash seeds by accident and they’ve since sprouted in the nutrient-rich castings. I eventually want to post a shot of red wiggler reproduction and just have to be patient. 🙂

  8. kate Says:

    Hi Kathy,

    I read about your worms (along with your previous attempt). My worms have survived their first week although I keep thinking they are all going to die.
    I’ll be curious to see how we manage over the long term. A friend of mine has vermi-composted for about 15 years without any problem. She makes it seem so easy.

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