Would I be over-sharing if I told you I have worms?
August 18, 2011 by Amy G.
Don’t be grossed out! We can only go up from here right? Read on.
We love to garden, but I’m always wondering how my veggies can be bigger, juicier and more of them? This year I’ve taken matters into my own hands. How? I made my own composting worm farm…..obviously! Maybe not so obvious. But it’s awesome and exciting! I know, I’m easily entertained, but bear with me. I promise you’ll be sold. Composting with earthworms, or “vermicomposting” (very official, eh?) is completely organic, inexpensive, easy, takes almost no space and gives off no odor if you do it right. It might be weird that I bring up the smell thing, but I have an extremely sensitive nose and a yucky smell would have been a deal breaker for me. BUT best of all, they make bigger plants with more and larger fruit and veggies. I know, you can’t fight the feelin’, just give in now like I did.
The worms used are not the big huge earthworms that you normally find in the ground. We use red wigglers. They tend to eat more (so they make more fertilizer), make more eggs (each egg produces 4-20 worms), and they tend to live closer to the surface where our veggie roots are growing. Smart little fellas. See how little they are?
I KNOW you’re dying to find out how to make your own worm farm, so here we go:
First, you need to create a home for the worms. Your best bet are either 2, 5 gallon buckets or 2 storage bins. They shouldn’t be see-through because worms like it dark, and they should all be the same so that one can fit in another snuggly. Once you have the buckets you need to drill holes for air flow and drainage. Leave one bucket solid. It will always be your bottom bucket. Drill a bunch of holes in the bottom and several starting about 6 inches from the bottom. Like so:
Now it’s time to make some bedding. Yep, that’s what it’s called. Somewhere nice and comfy for the worms to lay their tiny heads. This is all you need to give a worm his happy place. I started by adding some dirt to the bucket, and things worms love: a little sand, crunched up egg shells, shredded newspaper, and coffee grounds with filters included. Weird, eh? They love coffee grounds. Not a coffee drinker? That’s okay, me either, but go to your local coffee shop, or neighbor and they’ll be glad to give you their grounds.
Mix everything together and add a little water. It should be as moist as a wrung out sponge. If you squeeze it, it should drip a few drips, but not gush. Doesn’t this look like a happy worm home? Take an old plastic container (like sour cream or yogurt container), flip it upside down in the bottom of your solid bucket. Put the bucket with holes and bedding on top of it. This will keep your worms from drowning.
So where does a person buy worms, you ask? There are a few ways. Sometimes nurseries have them, though they’re usually a bit more expensive. You can also buy them online and have them shipped to you. Weird, huh? I never thought that I would want to find a box of worms at my doorstep. In most areas you can find people who sell worms. I found my worm guy on findworms.com. The funniest part was that he lives right in the middle of a pretty good size city. I would have thought worms=country, but I guess I’d be wrong.
Worms are purchased by the pound. This is what a pound of worms look like…plus some paper and a few apple chunks. And a pound of worms offers an up and coming worm farmer like myself over 1000 worms. Who knew? Not me.
Now all you need to do is add your worms to your bedding and throw in your fruit and vegetable scraps when you have them. So easy. If you chop them up a little they’ll compost more quickly. Here are a few tips: No citrus, onions or garlic. They don’t like them. Keep your buckets between about 40 and 80 degrees. Bury your scraps a bit so you don’t get fruit flies. Liquid will collect in the bottom bucket. This is a good thing. It’s called “worm tea” and is GREAT fertilizer. Pour off the liquid from your bottom bucket straight onto plants, flowers and veggies. I have a story here. My friend did an experiment and poured the “tea” onto one side of her peas and never poured it on the other side. You guessed it! Lots of peas and huge plants on one side, normal produce on the other.
The soil they produce can be used anywhere in your garden, flower beds or baskets with incredible results. PROMISE!
And if you’re not convinced on the benefits of a worm farm, I have one last perk; entertainment for my kids that doesn’t have anything to do with a screen!
Now THAT’S a miracle!