How to make a Worm Compost Bin
What You Need:
- 3 plastic bins
- Old Potting Soil
- Some sand
- Drill & 1/4″ drill bit
- Spray Bottle – with chlorine free water
- Hose spigot
- 3 bricks or rocks
- Red Worms (or worms of your choice)
Begin by drilling several holes into the bottom of your first plastic bin. You don’t want your worms to drown in leachate.
FYI: Leachate occurs when decaying matter releases a liquid this liquid will collect at the bottom of your bin. Most household bins process food scraps which can contain 90% water. This liquid builds up in the bottom of your bin and without proper drainage can kill your worms and make your bin anaerobic (that’s fancy terminology for no air, O2). If your bin becomes too wet add some dry bedding. Leachate should not be confused with worm tea!! I’ll cover this a bit later.
Oops! Make sure your bit is tight before beginning to drill. Don’t apply too much pressure as your drilling or you can crack the plastic… speaking from experience here! Let the drill bit do the hard work
It never fails as I’m trying to get the right angle on my camera I look up to find the boys playing in a mud hole!
You could add a few more holes if necessary. But this image gives you the idea.
Add several air holes at the top of the bin on all four sides. You could use a smaller drill bit than the 1/4″ for the air holes if you are DEATHLY afraid of worms! It is possible with the 1/4″ bit that worms could escape through it (although rare).
If you haven’t already done so find a newspaper and tear into 1″ strips. Don’t get distracted like my wife and try to read the fragmented strips it will only leave you frustrated.
Crumple the paper and apply to the bottom of the plastic bin.
Spray your newspaper with some chlorine free water. This could be distilled, rain water, or let some tap water sit out overnight. You want the paper to be moist but not soaked.
Sprinkle a little bit of sand over the crumpled paper. I robbed this sand from the boys sandbox when they weren’t looking. Earthworms have gizzards like birds which they use to grind their food. This sand will aid in their digestion process. You don’t need a lot!
Next add some bedding over your paper and sand. You can use old soil from potted plants (make sure you haven’t added any fertilizers to it), peat moss, coco coir, and horse manure. You want your bedding to be light and fluffy. Make sure the soil is moist not dry. A good rule of thumb is to squeeze bedding and have a couple drops of water. If it pours water it is too wet! You want it like a wrung out sponge.
This is what we should look like! You could add some green material if you wanted such as some grass clippings, leaves, etc… If you wanted you could stop here and you would have a functional worm bin (just add your worms). I would advise putting something under your bin to collect any liquid that passes through.
However, if you want a flow through style bin keep reading!
On your second plastic bin we need to install the spigot to drain the liquid (leachate). On this bin we don’t want any holes on the bottom or top! I use a 1/2″ bit to drill an oversized hole. I work the bit around the hole making it big enough to push my spigot through.
Install the spigot. Word of advice: make sure if lying the bin flat on the ground that the spigot doesn’t hit the ground. If the spigot hangs below the bottom of the bin it could break off or crack the plastic on the bin.
Install several bricks or rocks on the bottom of you collection bin. This will raise your worm bin assuring that the liquid won’t drown your worms.
We are almost done. The last step is to create your flow through bin. The flow through bin will be added once you are ready to process your castings.
On the bottom of the third bin I used a 1/2″ drill bit to add countless holes. I also added air holes to to top. These larger holes will allow your worms to migrate upward when you begin adding material to this bin. Once you have 4″ of material in this flow through bin you can process the castings in the lower bin.
Leachate should not be confused with worm tea!! (continued)
You will read on many websites that refer to this as worm tea, which it is not.
You make worm tea by brewing worm castings, which are chock-full of aerobic microorganisms. This process is accomplished by aerating the worm castings, water and molasses, which has no sulfur in it, for approximately 48 hours in order to explode the aerobic microbe population.
Leachate is usually the opposite, full of anaerobic organisms.
If you are getting a little leachate from your worm farm or worm bin, try adding several inches of dry shredded newspaper on top and place the lid on it. This will absorb a little of the moisture. If you are getting a lot of leachate, it might be time to remake the bedding for your worms. I also do leave the bin top off during the day light hours for perhaps three days in a row. Please be sure to cover them if you do this at night. All the predators in your neighborhood will be feasting on your worms otherwise.
If you have any questions or comments please post them below.
If you need composting worms please visit our store here Holtz Heritage Farms