Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:54 pm
Put the worms in a box, add organic waste, close the lid and the worm bin is ready. But it’s not that easy with the worm farm. What you should consider when you build a worm bin yourself, why buying a worm bin makes more sense for some people, and even more interesting facts about indoor compost, you will learn below.
Building a worm bin, also known as a vermicomposting system, is an eco-friendly way to recycle organic kitchen waste and create nutrient-rich compost for your garden. Here’s what you should know about building your own worm bin:
- 1 Materials You’ll Need:
- 2 Steps to Build a Worm Bin:
- 3 Maintaining Your Worm Bin:
- 4 What are worm bins?
- 5 How does composting in the worm bin work?
- 6 The advantages and disadvantages compared to a conventional compost.
- 7 Advantages of a worm bin:
- 8 Disadvantages of a worm bin:
- 9 Which container is suitable for a worm bin?
- 10 Which worms move into the worm bins?
- 11 What can be composted in the worm bin?
- 12 Build worm bin yourself: Helpful tips and tricks
- 13 Do you want to build or buy a worm bin?
- 14 Advantages
- 15 Disadvantages
- 16 Starting material: plastic or wood?
- 17 Author
Materials You’ll Need:
- Container: Choose a suitable container for your worm bin. Options include plastic storage bins, wooden boxes, or specialized vermicomposting bins. Ensure it has a lid to control moisture and light.
- Drill: You’ll need a drill to create ventilation holes in the bin to ensure proper airflow.
- Bedding Material: Prepare bedding material for the worms. Shredded newspaper, cardboard, or coconut coir work well. Avoid glossy or colored paper.
- Worms: Purchase composting worms, typically red wigglers (Eisenia fetida), from a reputable source. Do not use earthworms, as they are not as effective for vermicomposting.
- Moisture Control: You’ll need a spray bottle to control moisture levels. Worms require a moist environment.
Steps to Build a Worm Bin:
- Prepare the Container:
- Drill ventilation holes in the sides and lid of the container. These holes allow air to circulate and prevent anaerobic conditions.
- Bedding Layer:
- Create a bedding layer at the bottom of the container using shredded newspaper, cardboard, or coconut coir. Moisten the bedding until it’s about as damp as a wrung-out sponge.
- Add Worms:
- Place the composting worms on top of the bedding. Start with a pound (approximately 1,000 worms) for an average-sized bin.
- Feed Your Worms:
- Worms eat kitchen scraps like fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds, and eggshells. Avoid citrus peels, meat, dairy, and oily foods. Bury the food scraps in the bedding to prevent odors and pests.
- Maintain Moisture:
- Keep the bedding consistently moist, but not soggy. Use a spray bottle to add water if it becomes too dry. Excess moisture can lead to anaerobic conditions.
- Cover and Store:
- Place the lid on the container and store it in a cool, dark place, away from direct sunlight.
- Harvest the Compost:
- After a few months, the worms will have turned the bedding and food scraps into rich, dark compost. To harvest the compost, move all the contents to one side of the bin and add fresh bedding and food scraps to the other side. The worms will migrate to the new bedding over a few weeks, allowing you to collect the finished compost from the other side.
Maintaining Your Worm Bin:
- Regularly feed your worms, but don’t overfeed. Worms can consume about half their body weight in food per day.
- Maintain proper moisture levels. Check the bedding regularly and adjust the moisture as needed.
- Ensure good ventilation through the holes in the bin to prevent a buildup of harmful gases.
- Watch for signs of any issues, such as a foul odor (which can indicate overfeeding or excessive moisture) or a lack of worm activity (which can indicate unfavorable conditions).
Vermicomposting is an efficient and eco-friendly way to reduce kitchen waste and create nutrient-rich compost for your plants. With proper care, your DIY worm bin can be a valuable addition to your gardening and sustainability efforts.
What are worm bins?
A worm bin is an odorless indoor compost. A box inhabited by compost worms is the basis for a worm bin. In the worm farm, the worms decompose much of the organic waste produced in the kitchen and turn the waste into humus, or fertilizer. The more solid fertilizer is called worm humus, and liquid fertilizer is called worm tea.
There are two types of worm bins: one-box or multi-box systems. The one-box system consists of one box divided into two parts. Thus, by occasionally rearranging it, fresh organic waste can be stored in one zone and compost in the other. The multi-box system is built from two or even more boxes on top of each other and is more like a worm tower than a worm bin. There, the top box of the wooden box is filled with organic waste, which then slides into the box below as compost after being processed by the worms. In both cases, it then takes some time for the compost to become the finished worm humus (fertilizer).
How does composting in the worm bin work?
In the worm bin, nature’s nutrient cycle takes place in miniature: Microorganisms and compost worms decompose the organic waste into its individual components and prepare them in such a way that you can use the end products, worm humus and worm tea, as fertilizer for your plants or vegetable garden. From 80 to 200 liters of organic waste, worm composting yields 15 to 30 kilograms of “black gold,” as worm bin fans call the fertilizer produced by their crawling pets, every year.
The worm tea is collected in the lowest part of the worm bin and either drained with a small tap or skimmed off by hand. The worm humus lies in the part above and on top of it you place the organic waste that still needs to be decomposed. To keep your compost worms in a good mood, you should add paper (no glossy paper!) or cardboard from time to time and spray water into the worm bin with a spray bottle on hot days.
The advantages and disadvantages compared to a conventional compost.
Both backyard composting and worm bin composting turn organic waste into humus by worms and microorganisms. So what are the differences between the two systems? What are the advantages, but also the disadvantages of a worm bin compared to a conventional compost in the garden?
Advantages of a worm bin:
You can put a worm bin in any niche or corner of the home. You don’t need a garden, a terrace or a balcony for a worm bin. A compost pile in the living room, on the other hand, is rather unusual.
Worm humus and worm tea are always nearby. You don’t have to go out to the garden to fertilize your herbs in the kitchen on the side. Aside from the fact that worm tea is not even extra to skim off a compost pile.
Worm humus is much richer in nutrients than regular compost: it has five to seven times the fertilizing effect.
A functioning worm bin does not stink. Compost often smells.
No unwanted roommates like rats or other vermin helping themselves to your backyard compost.
Disadvantages of a worm bin:
Less organic waste fits in a worm bin than in a compost pile. A family that eats a lot of fruits and vegetables may need an additional compost pile to recycle all of their organic waste. Or several worm bins.
As long as the worms always have something to eat and are comfortable in the worm bin, you won’t be able to get outside through the air holes. But theoretically it is possible.
Which container is suitable for a worm bin?
To build a worm bin yourself, you should have a plastic box or a wooden box. For worm composting it is important that the box has a lid, is dark and yet permeable to air, thus regulating the moisture inside. Also, the walls should not be too thin to better absorb temperature fluctuations of the outside temperature – important especially if the worm boxes are placed on the balcony. How you design the worm bin and whether you use it exclusively as a worm farm or, for example, as a (rollable) stool, a coffee table or a base for a kitchen herb bed is, of course, up to you.
Which worms move into the worm bins?
Not all worms are the same – even though to the human eye there is almost no difference between earthworms and compost worms. For a worm bin you need compost worms, because these industrious little animals with sonorous Latin names such as Eisenia andrei, Eudrilus eugeniae, Lumbricus rubellus, Dendrobaena veneta and Eisenia foetida prefer to live in the foliage layer above the soil and not underground, thus ensuring that the organic material is decomposed there. To do this, they eat a good half of their own body weight – every day. The more comfortable the compost worms feel on the worm farm, the more food they eat, the more they multiply and consequently the faster they decompose your organic waste. To make the compost worms as comfortable as possible, the temperature in the worm bin should be 20 to 25 degrees Celsius.
If you are using compost worms in your worm bin for the first time, you should settle three worm species in the bin. Dendrobaena veneta, Eisenia foetida and Eisenia andrei are particularly suitable. You can buy them in an angler’s store. With six liters of substrate in the worm bin, it is best to start with 500 animals. If your worm bin is smaller, you will have to reduce the number accordingly.
What can be composted in the worm bin?
In order for a worm bin not to stink (i.e. no putrefactive bacteria or mold to form) and for the worms to reproduce as desired, you should, in your own interest, only dispose of organic waste in your indoor compost that does not cause problems for the worms – and not too much of it, especially at the beginning. Otherwise, the animals will be overwhelmed and will not manage to decompose the compost before it starts to mold and stink. Normally, the worms process the organic waste into fine compost within 20 days. The worm compost then takes a while to turn into fertilizer: You can use the first DIY fertilizer six months after building the worm bin. However, worm tea is available earlier and should also be drained regularly, otherwise it too can become a source of stench.
These kitchen scraps may go into the worm bin:
- coffee grounds
- loose tea
- fruit scraps and fruit peel (also banana)
- vegetable scraps and vegetable peelings
- Leaves and remains of plants (no wood)
- Paper and cardboard (if not colorfully printed)
These wastes are not allowed in the worm bin:
- Egg white and yolk
- Onions (but peel is okay)
- Citrus fruits
- dairy products
- cooked, salted food
- cat litter
Build worm bin yourself: Helpful tips and tricks
Before building the worm bin or worm tower, decide how you want to drain the worm tea. You can add a tap or plan for a cassette, which must be easy to pull out.
Sufficient air supply is essential for frictionless and odorless composting of organic waste in the worm farm. So don’t skimp on drilling air holes, gladly further up the box.
Use fine chicken wire to separate the organic waste zone from the worm humus or compost zone. This will also allow you to block the holes in the worm bin from the inside. Don’t worry, as long as the worms are comfortable in the worm bin, they won’t break out. But it will make you feel a little better, while still allowing air circulation, which is why you drilled the holes in the first place.
Don’t skimp on the hinges for the lid. You will be opening the worm bin every day, so it should be easy to handle.
Do you want to build or buy a worm bin?
If you have decided to use a worm bin, then the question remains to be answered: Do you want to build the worm bin yourself or buy a ready-made product? The following of advantages and disadvantages can help you decide:
- Can be adapted to existing space in the
- Can be adapted to existing space in the apartment.
- Shape and design of the
- wooden box are individual.
- Ready kit with all the necessary
- parts and instructions
- facilitate the start of the worm farm
- For some materials you have to buy
- the usual amount in the hardware store
- which is often too much to build a worm bin.
- often too much.
- For inexperienced people the construction
- can be a challenge.
- Ready-made worm boxes do not always
- always fit into their own home.
- Be it because of the size or the shape.
- The price is usually quite high.
Cost of a worm bin
Things to consider when looking at the price of a DIY worm bin are:
Starting material: plastic or wood?
Size of the worm box
DIY performance: are you building everything yourself or are you building a worm bin into a purchased wooden box?
Not all parts for the worm bin can be bought in the small quantities you need. Hinges can usually only be found in packs of 24, and chicken wire by the meter. The quantity needed for the box is usually less than what is offered in the hardware store.