Sunday, October 16, 2011

I Am Now a Worm Wrangler

I don't have the patience required by my compost pile. Nor do I have the money for one of those fantastic compost tumblers that I saw at the hardware store.
My plants need better nourishment, and I am tired of buying new soil.

Solution: a Worm Bin

Worms make marvelous compost. Their castings (poop) are like gold dirt for gardeners.
I got the original directions from The Urban Homestead by Coyne/Knutzen and simplified them. And made it...
Beach Cheap.

I used a free bucket from Chick-fil-A. Most fast food places will give you free buckets if you ask. Dill pickles come in these buckets and the restaurants just toss them in the dumpster.

I drilled 1/16th holes around the top and bottom of the sides for ventilation.

I drilled 1/4" holes in the bottom for an escape hatch should the worms need food or water or get too wet. The bucket is sitting on two bricks on top of a bucket lid. I check each day for escapees. If I see some, I figure out the problem, solve it, and put them back in before Lyli sees them and feeds them to the chickens.

I first shredded some paper (already shredded old bills- recycling at its finest), wet it, rung it out like a washcloth, and filled the bottom 1/3 of the bucket.
Then I filled another 1/3 with soil from my compost pile.
When I add food (kitchen scraps bound for the compost pile), I cover it with more dirt.
Then I cover the bucket with the lid that came with it. I also drilled 1/16 holes in the lid for air.

Worms like to be wet, but not too wet. And they don't like light.

I love them. I hope they make lots of babies so that the chickens can have an occasional treat.
And their castings are a wonderful addition to my plants. I've already harvested a little bit for a box of lettuce that I've placed in a window,

and a basil that I found growing on its own. I gave it a new home in a beautiful pot that I found at Ben's grandmother's old house.

When my worm bin fills up with gold dirt, I plan to make another bucket drilled with identical holes. I will fill it the same way and then set it (with fresh food in it) inside the current bucket. The theory (from The Urban Homestead) is that the worms will migrate up into their new home in search of the yummy food, leaving the bottom bucket full of worm-free compost for me to use. If this system works, I can dump the compost directly on my garden without having to pull all the worms out by hand. Sounds good to me!

-The Worm Wrangler, aka Lainie

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