September 27, 2009

As the Worms Turn

Okay, so I'm never quite content with anything once I've achieved something. Success in the worm bin is another example. My trusty wooden bin has been functioning well, though it's overrun by creepy crawlies, which makes harvesting and feeding of the bin ... well, something I don't look forward to. There had to be a better way. Plus the wood box is slowly breaking down to the elements.

Y had a great idea ... use our just emptied 5-gal. paint bucket somehow w/the worms. She was envisioning it as a holding area for our kitchen scraps. I on the other hand knew I could create an easy-to-maintain, and creepy-crawlie-free worm condo. I started by buying a 2-gal. small bucket to hold our kitchen scraps (we put our scraps into a scraps holder on our counter, and then in a couple days move it to the bucket).

I took the 5-gal. bucket, washed it out, and put in some 1/4-inch holes in the bottom for drainage and 4-inches up the sides all around for ventillation. Then I used a hot glue gun around the holes, and placed little squares of breathable fabric around the holes, sealing with more hot glue. This keeps out the creepy crawlies.

I put plenty of bedding of moist shredded newsprint in the bottom, then lots of food, then my worms, then topped with 2 times as much bedding as I put on the bottom.

I left it for 2 weeks. Today I turned the pile, which was almost completely consumed and turned into compost, using my rubber-gloved hands to do the work. You can build a successful worm unit of any shape, size or variety as long as you include 5 things that they love: food, ventillation, moisture, drainage and bedding.

I rinsed out a second bucket and drilled 1/2-inch holes all into the bottom, making a Swiss cheese effect. Then I drilled 5 or 6 holes near the top of the second bucket for ventillation. I took off the lid from the starter bucket, placed the 2nd bucket on top, added bedding, then food then lots more bedding, and lidded the 2nd bucket with my original lid. Everything is sealed nice and tight with plenty of air coming and going. Then I placed my new wormy condo in an old litter box I use to hold my shredded newsprint when I need it. This will catch liquids as they leech out, and the pan is easily rinse-able.

Also, this new vertical condo is WAY EASY to move into the shade when it gets too hot or into the sun during the cooler months, which are upon us now. Yvonne gave me a ton of new scraps just after I'd finished putting in the second level. But it was so easy to add the new scraps to the new level, after removing the top bedding. I noticed that in just an hour or so after I'd turned the pile the worms on level 1 had gone to the top of the pile, and 2 were already surfing on the bottom of the 2nd level, heading up through the big holes.

Worms will automatically surf to wherever you're feeding. This makes harvesting way easy ... the wormies will all be gone onto the higher levels when it's time to harvest the first and second levels. And it allows you to keep feeding while harvesting, so you can use 4 or 5 buckets and begin the cycle all over again after harvest. Also I'm happy to know that I'm re-using old paint buckets that would've gone to the recycling bin or trash pile. :)