To make your own worm composter, you will need:
· A large perforated bucket or tote with lid (drill drainage holes at the bottom, and air holes near the top)
· Shredded paper – enough to fill about ¾ of the bucket or tote
· Red Wiggler worms – buy them at Wally’s Bait Store in Sandwich, online or from someone who has them already
· A drip tray large enough to fit under the bucket
· A couple of cups of water
· A handful of dirt
· Food scraps: no dairy or meat. Avoid onions, citrus and sugar but don’t worry too much if a little slips in. Most other food scraps are fine, e.g. egg shells, tea bags, coffee grounds, fruit and vegetables, banana peels
1. Put about 2/3 of the shredded paper in the bucket
2. Place the bucket on the drip tray
3. Sprinkle the water over the shredded paper in the bucket until it is damp throughout but not dripping wet
4. Add the handful of dirt and a handful of food scraps
5. Drop in the worms
6. Cover with the remaining shredded paper. Sprinkle over a little more water
7. Put the lid back on the bucket and leave the composter for a couple of days
8. Every three days or so, you can add another handful of produce but be sure to bury it below the top layer of shredded paper or you will get problems with fruit flies. As time goes on and your worm bin gets more established, you can increase the amount of food you add to it
9. Add a little water if the contents of the bucket seem dry
10. Share some worms with friends and show them how to make their own vermicomposter.
· In a shed or garage
· Outside, but bring it inside in very cold weather to prevent the worms from freezing to death.
What to do with the worm bin
· Harvest worm tea: Drain off the liquid that collects in the drip tray and use it to fertilize your plants. It’s strong, so dilute it with water – a ratio of 1:5 or 1:10 will do
· There’s no real need to do too much with the castings. You can continue to add more organic matter to the bin for a very long time without it getting full
· Or you can use the castings to enrich the soil in your garden. You will know it’s ready when you have lots of dark soil-like stuff in the bucket
· To separate the worms from their castings, poke holes in a black garbage bag or plastic sheet. Dump some scoops of worm compost on the bag and drape the bag over the worm bin. Put the bin in the sun. The worms will soon slither through the holes back into their bucket, and you will be left with a nice pile of compost to use on your plants.
There’s little that should go wrong. However, if your bin starts to smell or you get a lot of fruit flies:
- The food scraps need to be better covered, there might be too much food, or some meat or dairy products may have been accidentally added. Simply leave the bin to rest undisturbed for a week or two. The worms will sort it out.
- The contents is possibly too wet. Drain off excess liquid.
- Try adding a little more shredded paper. When shredding your own, try to avoid too many colours. Used paper towels can also be used without shredding. Or you could also use straw, leaves, grass clippings, or a mixture of all of these.
- Put some apple cider or rice vinegar (wine works too) in a little bowl. Add a couple of drops of dishwashing liquid. Leave it near your worm bin. You’ll be amazed at how many fruit flies it will trap.