Thursday, August 20, 2009

DIY Worm Composter

I dare you to Google Shopping a worm compost bin! They range anywhere from $90-$600!!! Seriously now?! That's ridiculous. But I REALLY wanted one. So I did a little searching and found a tutorial on YouTube. I altered it a bit, and now present it to you! You won't need a starting kit and you'll be able to do it for around $20.

First, buy two plastic totes with lids. Make sure they are a dark color, since worms and light don't mix well.

I got these pretty green ones for $7.97 a piece a Lowe's.

Then get that drill out! You'll want to use an 1/8" bit or around that size. This way you allow for airflow and drainage without losing any soil or worms. Choose which bin you want to be on top. Drill 15-20 holes around the sides of the tub about 3/4 of the way up. I did seven on each long side and 3 on each short side.

Then drill holes 6-10 holes in the lid.

And do the same for the bottom. I put 8 on each.

Then in your bottom bin (the one without holes), set up two milk boxes, formula canisters, coffee cans, or whatever you have two of that are the same height and pretty sturdy. I used two old plastic trash bins.

Now set the top bin on the canisters. This will keep the top bin from getting stuck in the bottom one and will allow for airflow, so your stuff doesn't get stinky.
It's now time to start the layering! Something I didn't know until I started reading about this, is the importance of bedding. Bedding is torn up cardboard or shredded paper or a mixture of both that you can put in your compost bin, it cuts down on the smell and on any bugs. Cool huh? You can also include dry leaves in your bedding if it's fall-ish out.
So...Layer #1-Bedding! Put down a layer of bedding until it completely covers the bottom of the bin and you have a nice little mound of it.

Layer #2 -Throw in your food scraps. I know...EWWW gross! But I'd been saving these scraps for this purpose for the last couple weeks in a small composter under my sink.

When it comes to food scraps, here's the deal -->You can put as much fruit and veggie stuff in as you want, along with any tea bags or ground coffee (filter and all). You can also put in breads, onions, and citrus in moderation. But don't use meat or dairy products or anything with a lot of oil (salad with a bit of dressing should be fine, but don't throw in your favorite greasy pizza).

Layer #3 - Coffee grounds and a tad bit of dirt.

I was so excited to finally be able to use my Grounds for your Garden that I got for free at Starbucks. The pail at my Starbucks was always empty, so I figured "this stuff must be good for your garden!" Without knowing why it was, the first time I saw some in the pail, I grabbed a big bag.
Then I brought it home and I didn't know what to do with it. Everything I read said to add it to your compost or add it to your garden.
I just planted my garden and I didn't have a compost bin....yet! On top of the coffee grounds you want to add a sprinkling of dirt. The grit from the dirt helps the worms...I guess they have weird gizzards for it or something.
Then we start over again....bedding, food scraps, grounds & dirt. The grounds aren't completely necessary, and they can be mixed in with the food scraps, I just like separating them for the sake of smell when I'm making the thing.
You want your top layer to be bedding. They spray it down and get it nice and moist.

You can dump in your worms right away, or you can let the stuff sit for a week or two and give it chance to decompose a bit before you introduce the worms.

I've read a couple places that the best worms to get are Red Wigglers. You want to get about 100 to start with (about $5 most places). Then let the worms do their thing. In about 2 months you'll have 300 worms and a nice compost! Then you can separate the worms out, use the compost, and start a new bin or two.
Hope this helps you! I'm so excited about ours. With this and our recycling, it really cuts down on our waste and the garbage! Woohoo!

Isn't she beautiful? I think I'll call her Elfaba!

1 comment:

Bethany said...

I love it that her name is Elfaba! That's really cool, Meg!


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