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How to Make Your Own Worm Bin
By following the steps shown below anyone can create their own worm bin that can be used to harvest worm castings and get rid of food waste.
Creating your own worm habitat can be an easy project producing healthy, natural food for your plants while diverting food waste out of your home trash bins and keeping it out of the landfill. The most common type of worm for worm farming is the Red Wiggler (Eisenia fetida). These worms are horizontally migrating and usually only stay in the first 18 inches of the soil. Because of this they work great at moving through the top of a bin and breaking down all the material as they go in search of food.
Red Wiggler Worms used in the DIY Worm Farm
The most common type of worm for worm farming is the Red Wiggler (Eisenia fetida).
Why do I need a worm bin?
One of the main goals of having a worm bin is to make vermicompost, also known as worm castings. Worm castings have shown to have an increase in plant root growth, decrease in transplant stress, improvement in soil porosity and structure, and will never burn plants with their application compared to some traditional fertilizers. Worm castings can be added as a side dressing to your existing plants to help give them a boost. Castings add a rich amount of beneficial biology to your plants. When planting add your worm castings up to 40% concentration with another growth media. However, adding vermicast to soil in concentrations as low as 10% has also been shown to be beneficial.
Creating your own worm bin is a simple and easy way to have access to worm castings year round. Ozark Worm Farms has a passion for helping the average person to connect with nature and to create a more sustainable lifestyle. By following the steps shown below anyone can create their own worm bin that can be used to harvest castings and utilize food waste.
You Will Need:
- 2 plastic tubs (27 gallon, or whatever you can find)
- Crushed leaves
- Drill (or something to poke air holes with)
- Peat moss or some loose soil
- Kitchen scraps (collection bucket)
- (Optional) spigot
Preparing the worm bins:
Get two plastic tubs so that one fits into the other.
Prepare the top tub: Cut rectangular strips approximately 1 ½ in wide all along the bottom of the tub (creating a simple slatted bottom that will allow water to drain from the worm habitat.)
drill evenly spaced air holes into the upper side walls of the bin. (These holes allow more air to reach your worms so they are healthier and happier)
Prepare the bottom tub: The bottom tub can be mostly left alone since its primary function is to catch leachate, worm water runoff, from the worm bin above.
Water can be later diluted with leachate at a 2:1 ratio and applied as a
foliar feeding to your plants.
Place a brick or other flat object in the bottom of the lower tub so that the top tub is slightly elevated from the bottom tub. This prevents the tubs from forming a suction when trying to separate them to harvest worm castings. (Without this, the tubs create a suction and are REALLY stuck together, especially when full. Trust me! You’ll like with this simple little addition.) It also allows even more air to reach your worm habitat.
*(Optional step: Drill a hole in the side of the bottom tub as close as possible to the bottom. Install a spigot that can be used to drain the liquid without having to separate the tubs)
Feeding Your Worms & Preparing the bin
Place the top tub inside the bottom and begin filling your worm farm with tasty goodies.
Line the top tub with several sheets of newspaper (cardboard can also be used). This prevents material from falling through the slats until the worms have had time to process the contents and allows castings to compact enough so it doesn’t fall through on its own. Moisten this layer with water.
Place a 2 inch layer of pre-soaked peat moss in your bin. This should be about as damp as a wrung-out sponge.
“Our worms eat about half their weight in food each day.”
Place a small amount of kitchen scraps in your bin.
Our worms eat about half their weight in food each day. At first they may eat less, but as they settle into their new home you should notice them processing material at a much faster rate. (What worms like and dont like visit our link). If all else fails air on the side of too little application of kitchen scraps and observe. If they process through it in a matter of days, you can try and increase how much you put in and observe. Less is more in this at first. If you add too much, you may attract flies and other critters. This bin does not attract pests at all when done properly. Vermicomposting should never be a smelly hobby and should always smell like fresh soil in your bin. Additionally covering up the kitchen waste with a bit of the other bedding in the bin helps to eliminate odors.
Add a layer of crushed leaves and cardboard to the bin. The total of layers should be about 4 – 5 inches deep. Water lightly.
Add Your Worms:
Now you are ready to introduce your worms to their new worm farm. They will almost immediately begin moving deeper into the bin.
Tuck ‘Em In:
Finally place a cloth or other type of cover over your worm habitat (feed bags, plastic sacks, or even just one solid piece of cardboard works). This helps maintain the humidity level within your worm bin and also makes the little critters happy because red wigglers don’t like light. With the bin covered they will work throughout all the layers rather than staying in the lower regions to escape the light. Monitor your bins every few days for moisture content. Worms aren’t too finicky, but do prefer damp rather than saturated or dry conditions.
If you have any trouble, feel free to give us a call. Order some worms from us and we’ll help you succeed
Repeat the process:
As the material in the tub is processed and settles down, continue to add leaves, kitchen scraps, and peat moss mixture to the top as needed. The worms will continue to make their way up from below to eat their new meal. You tend to get a better processing of waste if each time you feed you alternate sides where you place the food, so that the worms can move back and forth, processing material as they go.
When castings have accumulated on the bottom of the top tub, separate the two bins. Scrape your fingers along the slats that you’ve made in the bottom of the top bin. This is a small scale continuous flow through worm bin. You can harvest the castings while leaving your worms totally undisturbed! When you’ve harvested a sufficient amount of finished castings from the bottom of the first tub, put the tubs back together and start the process over.
For more information feel free to give us a call at (501) 500-3153. We’d love to help you out any way we can.
About the author:
Heath LaFavers and his wife, Erin, own Ozark Worm Farms, LLC, a worm farm just outside of Searcy. Their passions include gardening, playing outdoors with their three children, bees, chickens, and anything to keep them outside. Ozark Worm Farms has been in business since 2021 and is quickly becoming a name to be recognized in horticulture in Arkansas. They sell worms for do-it-yourself worm bins, which allows people to create their own soil from food waste at home. They also have been one of the main proponents of worm farming and composting worm sales in Arkansas. Heath has taught sustainable gardening courses in the past, and he and his wife are both active Master Gardeners in White County. Lecturing, blogging, and intersecting with hobby homesteaders is on the horizon this year for them as they continue to grow their business in this exciting and new sustainable industry.