Building your own DIY Vermicomposting Bin
30% of what ends up in the landfills is FOOD! Food is organic matter (like leaves, sticks, wood) and when allowed to break down via compost or with worms, it has the ability to amend soil and return nutrients back to the earth and feed your vegetable and flower gardens.
Vermicomposting is a great way to reduce your household waste and turn your food scraps into worm castings, a.k.a. “black gold.” Worm castings are a natural, safe fertilizer that you can use to feed your houseplants and garden.
Follow these simple steps to build your own vermicomposting bin!
Two 5 gallon buckets (small household producing 2-3 lbs of food waste a week)
Two 15-20 gallon storage container (family producing 4-8 lbs of food waste a week)
Drill bit 3/16”
Drill oxygen holes near the top of one bin. This will provide ventilation and circulation of air.
2. Drill even holes on the lid and the the bottom of the bin. The holes at the bottom of the bin will drain any excess liquid.
3. Place the drilled bin in the un-drilled bin. Use a brick to prop up the drilled bin.
When preparing bedding, think: “forest floor.” The forest floor is perfectly moist and leaves blanket the ground. Ideal bedding include dried leaves, non-glossy newspaper (shredded into 1” strips) and coconut hull fiber make great bedding. Bedding helps the environment stay aerated.
Newspaper shredded in 1” strips
Dried Leaves, or coconut fiber
Topsoil or compost
4. Shred newspaper in to 1” strips and layer the first 2-3 inches of the drilled bin with this newspaper. Keep a box of shredded newspaper near your bin.
5. Throw in a few handfuls of dried leaves and compost (or topsoil) and mix well.
7. Add about 1/2 cup of water and mix. Keep adding water one half cup at time to reach the appropriate moisture level. REMEMBER, you want the contents to be moist, not soggy. Worms breath through their epidermis (skin) and they will die if they dry out. A good way to know that your bedding is moist enough is to squeeze a handful of bedding in your hand. This handful should stay in a clump and when you release your hand, you should feel even moisture throughout your entire hand and fingers.
8. Once you prepare the bedding, you can add you worms an attach the lid..
FEEDING your WORMS
Food (the smaller the pieces, the faster the worms can break it down)
Water (water in a spray bottle works really well)
It is important to only feed your worms what is good for them. They love fruits, vegetables, uncooked grains (oats, cornmeal), contents of tea bag, used coffee grounds, etc. DO NOT feed your worms: grease, cooked foods, diary, meat, fish or acidic fruits like lemons and limes.
9. Feed worms every 2-3 days. You want to evenly layer the food scraps in the worm bin. The smaller the pieces, the easier it is for your worms to break down the food. You may want to consider blending up your food.
10. Be sure to put newspaper on top of the food layer. This helps to keep odor down and bugs out. If you have a bug infestation, most likely, you need to bury your food scraps under a layer of newspaper or cardboard.
If you are just starting out, feed your worms slowly at first. As they multiply (worms typically double in populating anywhere between 60-90 days), you can add more food.
Feed your worms every 2-3 days (only feed when you have enough scraps to form and even layer of food).
If you freeze food scraps, defrost and then feed your worms, this helps worms digest the food faster because the freezing and defrosting process helps break down the cell walls in food.
If you blend up your food scraps, this also helps worms break down the food faster. You can keep blended food scraps in a jar (don’t worry if the food scraps mold a bit, worms actually love that).
Harvesting Worm Castings
11. It will probably be around 2-3 months before the first harvest of worm casting. When your existing bin is full and you cannot see any remaining food scraps, It’s time to do one of the following:
a) Push contents to one side of bin. This works well in a larger rectangular shaped bin (does not work so well in a bucket). Restock the other side with fresh bedding. Bury food scraps in new bedding only. Wait about 3-4 weeks for worms to migrate over to newly restocked bin.
b) Dump and sort: dump the contents of your worm bin onto a plastic sheet under a bright light. Make many small piles. Worms will retreat to the bottom of the pile. Give them some time to retreat to the bottom (be patient). Sort by scooping the worm castings from the tops of the piles. Store this in jar. Repeat until you have harvested most of the castings and all that remain are worms.
c) Tiered Method: Follow steps 1-4 above. Place this bin on top of the bin containing your worms. Add fresh food scraps to the new bin and the worms will start to crawl up to the top bin. Once all of the worms have traveled to the top bin (This will take 3-4 weeks), you can harvest the worm castings in the first bin.
Hopefully, you find your worm bin as enjoyable as we do! Not only do we feel great about diverting food waste, but we get to use the worm castings in our gardens! Happy worm tending :)