If you grow an indoor garden, then you are half way to the idea of also growing worms! Worms are silent, odorless, and work around the clock, making fresh, organic compost, for your garden.
If you have room for a bucket or shoebox, then you have room for a worm bin in your home. This is perfect for urban dwellers who may not have the space for a compost tumbler or other large device. Making a worm bin is just as easy as it sounds: combine a few simple ingredients and add some easy to buy worms. You will then have a place to add your kitchen scraps and turn them into luscious fertilizer for anything you grow. Here are my top 5 items for creating a healthy worm bin.
I have had a worm bin for 5 years, continuously creating composted kitchen scraps, for my gardens and indoor plants. No one knows that I have this hard working team of composters, unless I show them. Currently, I have a huge bin right on the counter, and it is a conversation starter, but unless I share what is inside, it simply looks like I have a square art deco piece sitting there.
There are a number of informative books on composting. An excellent book to get started, The Idiot's Guide To Composting, is a great place to start.
From the author's sense of humor, to depth of knowledge on the subject of composting, this book will help you understand how simple it can be, and how important the few basics rules are to follow. There is an extensive section on worm composting, which walks you through the concept of cultivating and keeping a worm bin.
This is the part where it gets interesting. Making a wormbin is not only useful, it can easily be designed to fit just the area you have. From a small bucket on the counter, to a large, multi-tiered bin that can hold thousands of worms, your worm bin can fit just where you need it to.
Take a look at one of my bins. It is simple and efficient. These worms survived for 3 years in the bin you see pictured. They were then transferred to a larger bin so I could increase my composting.
Of course, the worms are important. Without them, even the best setup will never get started. You can not add worms from your garden to the composting bin. They are not able to survive, and your efforts will end up in disappointment.
The correct type of worm, Eisenia fetida, or Red Wigglers, aren't your average type of worm. They thrive in captivity, where the worms in your garden will certainly die when placed in the bin. They also reproduce prolifically and can eat their own body weight in scraps every day!
These hard workers are easy to purchase as well. You can of course, buy them online (start with 1 pound, for most indoor worm bins), or simple buy them at your local pet store. When buying from the pet store, they are often sold by number, so plan on buying 50 to 100 of them. You may have to specify that you need bait or feeder worms, so the person at the store understands you are looking for the live type of worm.
If you do buy them from the pet store, remove all the bedding that comes with the worms, to avoid adding anything unwanted visitors to your bin.
Cornmeal is the perfect food to keep your worms lively and healthy. This is a simple trick that makes keeping a worm bin easier than ever. During the winter months, if you want to go on vacation, simply sprinkling a layer of cornmeal across the top of your bin, will give your worms a fresh supply of food the entire time.
Cornmeal is the answer if you don't have enough kitchen scraps to feed. In our house, we share the kitchen scraps with the chicken, goats and worms, so sometimes our indoor bin doesn't get a full feeding. I keep a bag of organic cornmeal in the pantry for just this reason.
If you have a worm bin, you probably wanted a way to compost throughout the year. Although they will eat almost everything, there are some foods to avoid adding to the worm bin.
The obvious foods are the same as an outdoor compost pile: meat scraps, bones and grease, but there are some not so obvious items, like onions and citrus fruits.