Gardening. It’s a great feeling to see your plants grow. You see it at its beginning, its growth, and the finished product. It’s really miraculous. It’s like witnessing life over and over again.
Last week I gardened like crazy. Every day I was outside pulling weeds, planting seeds, cleaning, and watering my plants. I was looking up ways to help my plants with nutrition and making it grow more. When my sister used to live in Long Beach, they lived next door to a family whose little boy was crazy about gardening. He built his own greenhouses (out of CD cases), watered his own plants, and even had a worm composting bin. He showed it to me, teaching me how it worked and what it did. It’s quite interesting. You have these worms in a couple of bins stacked on top of each other. You feed the worms using left over vegetables, tea leaves, or other kitchen scraps. Then, the worms will eat the scraps and create a liquid residue (Kinda gross). This extra liquid is supposed to be extremely fertile and will help your plant’s soil gain needed nutrients. It is supposed to look something like this.
I wanted to build one of these worm composting bins for my own plants. I also want to share the process of making it just in case you wanted to make one for yours as well. I made a make-shift version using plastic bins instead of buying a really nice one. This is really quite easy:
Step 1: Buy two plastic storage containers. They need to be dark in color (don’t use the clear ones). I bought mine from Target, they were only about $5.00 each.
Step 2: Hose them down and wipe them off
Step 3: Use a drill head (1/8) and drill along the sides of ONE of the containers. This will help your worms to breathe, and let some air in. Don’t poke too many holes though. Make one hole every 1 1/2 inches all the way around. Also, add some holes in the lid of one of the containers. This will keep them staying put on the bottom.
Step 4: Drill holes at the bottom of your container. This is so the liquid will flow from the top container to the bottom container. It will help stop your worms from drowning as well.
Step 5: Use some plastic or heavy pots to make one of the containers higher, when stacked.
Next, you’re going to make the bedding for the worms. This is important, especially when you first get the worms. They need to have a proper environment for them to live in. Remember, you are creating your own ecosystem, so be careful: only add helpful, bio-degradable products.
Step 6: Cut cardboard and paper into strips and add them to your bins. You want to have enough to fill the first container about 3/4 full. Make sure you remove any plastic tape, worms do not like to eat plastic! It might be a pain to sift through the pile later to remove them. Make sure you do that now, then add them to your bin.
Step 7: You might also want to add a handful of dirt to help the worms digest. Also, if you have any dry grass or extra dry leaves, you can add that in too. Wet all of the material and soak it through. Afterwards, you want to fluff it up so that there is space in-between so that the worms can crawl around.
Let this sit for at least 3-4 days. The newspaper and carboard will begin to soften up and degrade. Make sure you do this BEFORE you add your worms.
The next step to to add your worms. I got my worms at Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm. They’re based in Pennsylvania so it took about a week to get to California. You shouldn’t use the worms that are in your yard – it may not digest the food properly, resulting in poor nutrients in the liquid. I got the Red Wrigglers (Eisenia Foetida). I bought the package of 500 which is good for the container size I have. It really just depends on what you want, and how big your containers are. It was funny how they got delivered, in a bag with some dirt that keeps the worms moist. It was kind of cool.
Once you add the worms, sprinkle some water on them since they might be a little dehydrated from the trip.
Step 8: Now you want to feed them! Feed them about twice a week. If you feed them a lot, they will get really fat, which is good for fishing worms. However feeding them often, but just a little bit, will make them reproduce quickly, which is good for a new worm bin. You also want to feed them a balance between “green” and “brown” foods. Green foods include: vegetables peels, fruit rinds, raw egg shells, tea bags, coffee grounds, etc. Brown foods include: newspaper, cardboard pieces, shredded magazines, dry leaves, hay, wooden chips, etc. Make sure you have a good ratio – the worms need the bedding in order to move around and freely eat the green foods. Fluff up the piles every once in awhile to gently air out the bedding. This will help the worms reproduce, and help control the odor as well.
I just got the worms yesterday and added them to my bins. But I’m waiting so that they get used to their environment. This morning, I found that some of my worms were trying to escape! I added a little bit of lettuce to keep them attracted and that seemed to work. I added some fruits and vegetables today and we’ll see how that turns out. I’ll keep you posted!
I enjoyed making it – I don’t really like worms or creepy-crawly things in general, but they really have magical powers for your plants, so I hope this works. I just hope they dont die! I miss gardening. Now that I’m working so often, I rarely have time to go out and garden as much. But things around my garden are growing – my tomatoes and carrots are starting to sprout and grow a little. I’m excited.