Composting In The Apartment? - A Worm Bin Makes It Possible!

Composting In The Apartment? – A Worm Bin Makes It Possible!

A compost heap is really something great, after all, it turns kitchen and garden waste into humus-rich soil that can be used excellently for fertilizing. But those who don’t have a garden don’t have to do without “gardener’s gold”, because with a worm bin, you can put a little mini composter right in your kitchen at home.

What is a worm bin?


As the name suggests, a worm bin is a box in which compost worms live. The worms eat various organic waste that may be produced in the kitchen, multiply and in turn excrete worm humus, which can be used as a natural fertilizer for plants of all kinds. The worm bin is thus a smaller version of the conventional compost pile – but the worm humus has five to seven times the fertilizing effect and can be worked deeper into the soil to be fertilized.

How is a worm bin constructed?


To build a worm bin, you need a wooden box that is permeable to air and has a lid. It should be about 40 x 40 x 60 centimeters in size and separated in the middle by a grid, for example, chicken wire, or a wall with holes in two chambers.

Although worm boxes can also be purchased in stores, those who have some manual skills will certainly also enjoy building a worm box themselves from untreated wood. Instructions for this can be found on the Internet, for example.

Which worms should be in the box?


The compost worms for the box are not ordinary earthworms, but the genus “Eisenia foetida”, “Eisenia andrei” and “Dendrobena venata”, so to speak relatives of the earthworm. Unlike earthworms, compost worms work their way horizontally through the soil and through the worm bin. In the process, they process about their own weight in organic waste.

Compost worms are not alone in the worm bin. They live together with bacteria, fungi and other soil organisms and share the work of converting compost waste into humus.

Where can I get the compost worms?


Since the worms are also used for fishing, they can be purchased locally at fishing supply stores, for example, or over the Internet. Another option is to ask friends, neighbors, and acquaintances with compost piles in their yards for some compost for the worm bin. Ideally, they mix compost from two different gardens, since different critters live in each garden. The more diverse the hardworking helpers, the better for the worm bin.

How to fill the worm bin for the first time?


For commissioning, the walls of one half of the box should be lined with untreated, well-soaked cardboard. It makes sense to shred the cardboard beforehand and also fill the crate a few centimeters high with the waste paper shreds. Next, the worms are then added in the substrate in which they were already sold. The other side of the box remains empty.

From the next day, the worms are allowed to add organic waste daily. However: Since the waste is initially processed by microorganisms, not too large amounts of kitchen waste should be added to the box for the first few days. Otherwise, the waste may rot. After a few days, however, the amount can be steadily increased.

It is important that the contents of the worm bin are always nice and moist. If it looks too dry, a spray bottle with water will help.

Where is the best place for the worm bin?


Worms prefer a sheltered place with a constant temperature, around 20 degrees Celsius. Direct sunlight, on the other hand, is rather unpleasant for them, and the worms do not like frost at all. In addition, the box should not get wet. While in spring and autumn the worm bin can be placed on the covered balcony or terrace without any problems, it is usually too cold there in winter and too hot in summer.

Therefore, the worm bin is actually most practical directly in the kitchen. There, the resulting waste can then be disposed of directly in the box and, depending on the model, the small compost factory is even suitable as a seat.

Those who are afraid of bad odors when thinking about it can be reassured, because composting in the worm bin is fortunately odorless. When the lid is opened, only the smell of earth and damp forest soil comes up. If there is indeed an unpleasant odor, this is a sign that something is going wrong in the box.

What can go into the worm bin?


Not everything that can be composted in the garden is also suitable for the worm bin. For example, the worms are particularly happy with all unsalted vegetable scraps, fruit scraps, crushed eggshells, coffee grounds, tea bags, leaves, hair, non-woody plant parts and up to 20 percent paper or cardboard. To prevent over-acidification in the crate, you can also add a little primal rock flour from time to time.

Cheese and other dairy products, meat, cooked and salty foods, especially hot and spicy foods, citrus fruits, onions, garlic, oil, already moldy or even poisonous plants, however, have no place in the worm bin. Also cat litter or glossy and coated paper are not on the menu of the compost worms.

What to do in fruit fly season?


A slightly dampened newspaper or a hemp mat placed on top of the organic waste will keep fruit flies away and worms, substrate and humus additionally moist and dark.

When is the humus ready?


The organic waste is placed in one half of the box until ready humus is to be taken out. However: Until one half is full, it takes some time, because the organic waste collapses strongly during the conversion.

The humus should no longer contain worms if it is to be used as fertilizer. Here, the built-in grid in the middle of the box now plays a special role. If one wants to remove the humus from one side of the box, new organic waste is first placed in the other half of the box. When the worms notice that there is no more food supply on the usual side, but there is on the other side, they move over to the other half. After a few days, all the worms have moved to the other compartment and the finished, worm-free humus can be removed.

How can the worm humus be used?


Fresh humus is gradually produced in the box. This can be used for plants in the bed or in the pot. For this purpose, add a layer several centimeters thick to the potting soil when repotting or planting in the bed. (You)

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