Here’s a neat little worm bin that costs very little to set up and is extremely effective. No tools required! It will take all of two minutes to get it up and running!
I have 4 of these bins up and running and working with great success.
If you do set this type of bin up, please let me know how it worked out for you. If you have any questions, be sure to ask below. I would love to hear from you.
Ok, let’s get going!
You’ll need a plasterers bucket, some aged leaves, some old tbags, an aged banana skin, some egg shells and some worms.
Get a plasterer’s bucket from somewhere like BnQ. I paid £5.00 for the ones I have.
Add some old aged damp/moist leaves to the bin – a general rule of thump when setting up a new bin is the bedding should be roughly two thirds the depth of the bin:
Some of my old leaves already had worms move in 🙂
This is your damp carbon based bedding for the worms. I like using old leaves because their structure allows lots of air to circulate throughout the bedding and, well, it’s home from home for the worms – this is what they live on in the wild!
Next, get some old tbags, open, and add the tea-leaves to the bedding – this adds a little nitrogen to the mix: the tea leaves, since they’re old, will have lots of bacteria and microbes working on them, and mixed with the old, aged leaves means the worms are being added to a bin that is already flush with lots of micro-organisms – just what the worms need!
Mix the leaves and tea leaves up well, and ensure the leaves are well seperated so lots of air can flow though.
Next add a little crushed egg shells. This serves two functions – it stops the bin from becoming too acidic, and as worms don’t have teeth, it helps them break food down. The worms will take the crushed shell into their gizzard like structure and use it to mash up and grind the food. You can crush the shells by hand, but I like to run them through a coffee grinder. Sprinkle or crush the equivolent of about 2 eggshells into the bin – that’s plenty for a bin this size.
Mix this well into the bedding, then add a banana skin 🙂 This is a nice little treat, but it will also help you note when you should start feeding the bin. It will take a few weeks for the worms to settle into their new home and start working. Once the banana is gone, or mostly gone, this is a good indication of when you can start regualrly feeding the bin. More below on feeding.
Next add your worms 🙂 Here, I’ve just taken a handfull of bedding and worms from one of my other bins. If you order worms online, a pound, or half a kilo, is plenty for this kind of bin setup. My worms are Dendrobaenas.
Once the worms have been added you’ll notice they’ll quickly dive just under the surface. This is because they don’t like light. You’re almost done. Just add an old pair of tights to the top, and the bin is finished 🙂
The tights on top allow the bin plenty of fresh air, and allow any gasses that might build up in the bedding to be released. It also stops the sides from getting moist, which can encourage the worms to go awandering and exploring. The tights also serve to stop any escapees (it’s not uncommon for worms when they’re settling into a new bed to go wandering about and for some to escape!) and they also help keep fruit flies out of the bin.
Come on – who knew an old pair of tights could have so many functions! 🙂
And in true Blue Peter stylee, here’s one I prepared earlier 🙂
The bin above has been working for a couple of weeks and already the leaves and food scraps are being turned into high quality vermicompost.
Some things to be aware of:
Worms need their home to be moist, dark, aerated and not too cold or hot. Dendros, from experience, I can tell you are happy with temperatures from anywhere between 4 degree C to 20 degree C. Remember when we talk about temperature, we’re talking about the temperature of their bedding, NOT the ambient temperature. When it was below zero here during the winter, one of my outdoor pits was holding a steady 12 degree C in the bedding and the worms were working away on the horse manure and food scraps.
Protect the bin from the elements – keep it somewhere like a shed or a sheltered area in the garden so it’s not exposed to direct sunlight or rain.
You can add holes to the bottom of the bin to aid drainage. I’ve never had to do this as I never let the bins get too wet. Worms can’t swim! So while they need their bedding moist at all times so they can move and breathe, if it gets too wet, they’ll drown 😦 Adding food scraps will add moisture, so if you notice your bin getting too wet, add more dry bedding – leaves, or shredded paper or cardbaord.
You’re aiming for the bedding to be the moistness of a wrung out sponge.
Feeding – only feed the bin when most of the previous food you’ve fed the worms is gone. You’ll read in the literature that worms can eat anywhere from half their weight, to their weight, in food per day. This means a pound of worms will eat a pound of food waste per day.
Yes, true. In ideal circumstances!
It’s best to simply monitor how fast your worms are processing the food scraps, and top up when most of it is gone. That way you will prevent problems with over feeding.
If you can, precompost the food they’re being fed, as they will process it much faster. By this I mean, have a small bin on the side for the scraps (make sure this is aerated to stop the contents going anerobic and smelling!) and feed the wormbin from there.
With potato skins, I freeze them for 24 hours, then let them thaw – this stops them sprouting. You can do this with all your scraps – just make sure they’re well thawed out before you feed them to the worms.
Freezing helps break down the cell structure and encourages the scraps to break down faster, making them more readily available to the worms to process.
With this type of bin, I would recommend burying the food a few inches down in the bedding and feed in different spots each time you feed. Only feed when most of the previous food has been eaten by the worms.
That’s pretty much it.
A cheap and cheerful worm bin that will cost you a fiver and take about two minutes to set up 🙂
Of course, you could use just about any container, like a large bucket, if you have one lying around so you don’t even need to spend a fiver 🙂
I’ll be writing more as this blog develops on the different types of worm bins I’ve set up for next to no cost, and please, be sure to share your ideas and experiences too.
(with thanks to my awesome daughter Sorcha for the super awesome pictures :))