My dad recently handed me a quart-sized carryout container and told me to help myself to some European Night Crawlers from his worm bin. As my kids dug through the castings and scooped the worms into the container, I couldn't help but think that this image would resurface somewhere down the line in my nightmares. Or at the very least, turn me off of carryout food for a few months.
Despite their squirmy sliminess, I love worms. I really do. And I have wanted to start a worm bin for ages. When I saw how easy it was to do, I just had to give it a try. You don't need those fancy vermicompost bins with 3 layers that you rotate. After all, it's not like the worms in the yard work that way. You might, however, want to do a little research and Mary Appelhof's book, Worms Eat My Garbage
is a great resource.
I started with a plastic bin. You can add a few ventilation holes if you like, but with a lid that is not completely airtight, you might not need to. Locate the bin somewhere where it won't get too cold or too hot, like a basement or garage. I added a few inches of peat moss to the bottom for bedding, but shredded newspaper or cardboard also work well. Mix with water to moisten. The right level of moisture is important, similar to a sponge that has been wrung out. Add some worms (European Night Crawlers
or Red Wigglers
are best) and some tasty table scraps (no meat, dairy, eggs or oils) and you are in business. Replenish the food as needed, but don't overload it.
The first night home, my worms tried to head for the hills, climbing straight up the sides of the bin, a sign that something was not to their liking. I had added my worms too fast and the bedding/food mix was not decomposed at all. The quickest fix was to cover the top with something translucent, and hang a dim light above them (a great tip from my dad). As I got the moisture and bedding adjusted, I found they stayed put and started to thrive.
Soon, we should have some nice fresh worm castings to add to our garden. The kids, meanwhile, have started to bond to their newest creepy crawly pets. Maybe this will postpone their requests for a dog. Okay, probably not, but it's fun anyway.