Saturday, January 15, 2011

Worms! No really, they are neat.

As part of my DIY kick, I decided I should start recycling food waste as well as all the other stuff. And a regular old compost pile is too slow for me. Plus my tiny garage apartment is too small, with extremes of temperature, for a pet and I thought maybe worms would take the edge off my longing for something warm and fuzzy to keep me company?  Ok, maybe not.  
Anyway, I put together a small worm bin, called up a friend who has a well-established worm bin of his own and he agreed to give me some worms.  

Here are some photos documenting the process: 

small-ish rubbermade bin

 drainage hole

put a cork in it (hey, part of the fun of DIY is using what you've got!)

some shredded news print (from that christmas package!) for bedding

get it a little damp, about like a wrung out sponge
(Also, notice the vent holes I drilled along the edge. I think they are usually in the top, but I felt like putting them on the side. I figure this way if I put the bin outside it doesn't get too wet when it rains.)

Tahitian bridal veil plant in a cute tea tin, a little gift for my friend in thanks for the worms

My friend's worm bin is much more sophisticated than my little one.  He's got three layers (the top is off to the left in this photo.)

bottom layer is full of rocks for drainage

and he put in a fancy spigot 

second layer is older, with mostly just worm castings ready for harvesting

the top layer is the fresh stuff, where most of the worms hang out 

Yum!  Kind of pretty though, isn't it?

we started pulling worms from the second layer, as my friend wanted to harvest some of the worm castings to make worm tea (liquid fertilizer you can use on the garden)

the trick is to pull a bunch of the "dirt" out onto a surface in the sun

you pull layers off and the worms move down away from the light

Worm!  I named this one Violeta. 

All the plants were salivating I think. Look at how dark and rich it is!  And it didn't smell like anything.  Maybe a little like clean dirt.

So you keep pulling off dirt, looking for any stray worms, until...

you get to the ball-o-worms at the bottom.

Finished worm bin with some food scraps.

Now some might find this process a little disturbing or even gross (my friend's wife was not so into pulling the worms out of the pile, but was nice enough to take some pictures while my hands were dirty.)  I thoroughly enjoyed it!  The worms are cute little red ones, not the big slimy night crawlers you see on the sidewalk after it rains.  And the worm castings are just like nice damp rich dirt.  Growing up around gardens, I know what horticultural gold this stuff is.

So far my worms seem to be happy in their new home.  Sometimes they get agitated when they are moved and try to escape, I believe it is actually called worm run?  To guard against this I put the bin on a tray with a little water in it for the first couple days, like a mote.  I didn't want to chance waking up to small red worms all over my apartment.  But so far, no running.  Just lots of chomping.  They really like tomatoes, I discovered. Eventually I will have some great fertilizer to put on my plants!  


  1. my husband just started a compost pile. i'll have to have him read this!

  2. Shanlie, if he is interested my friend Doug would probably be happy to help him get a worm bin started!