Monday, May 6, 2013

A Plastic Bucket Worm Bin DIY

Vermicomposting is something that is gaining in popularity as gardening is becoming more and more popular among people who want to know where their food is coming from. Vermicompost is a product that comes from the process of a type of composing that uses various worms. The most used worms are earthworms, red wigglers, and white worms. They help to create a uniform mixture of decomposing food waste, bedding materials and vermicast or worm manure.

To keep vermicomposting affordable you can create your worm bin from a plastic bucket.

To get started on creating your own Bucket Worm Bin you will need some supplies:
Three 5 gallon plastic buckets. (I like the 5 gallon camo buckets, they blend in a bit better than a blaring white bucket).
One lid for your bucket.
A drill with a 1/8 inch and 3/16 inch drill bits.
Shredded cardboard and/or newspaper. This will make your worm bedding.
Red wiggler composting worms. Your bin will be able to hold between 250 to 500 worms.

Creating your Worm Bin:
  • In two of your buckets drill several 3/16 inch holes into the bottom. These holes need to be roughly an inch apart.Your third bucket should be left WITHOUT holes.
  • Drill a line of 1/8 inch holes near the top of all of your buckets. This is the ventilation system for your compost so that it doesn't get or stay too wet.
  • Take your lid and drill some 1/8 inch holes in it as well. Again this is to help with ventilation and aeration.
  • The bucket that you are going to start your vermicompost in needs to be placed inside of the 3rd bucket (which was left hole free in the bottom).  Start your first level by moistening the cardboard and/or newspaper you have and putting it in the top bucket. then add your worms. At this time feel free to add a few food scraps. 
  • Put your lid onto the bin and allow the worms to work away. Add any food scraps as often as you need to. 
  • This is the part that will sound a little weird: once your first layer starts getting really broken down by the worms stack the other bucket with holes into the bucket that currently has your worms and vermicompost in it.To start your second layer add fresh bedding to the bottom of the bucket and add some food scraps on top of that. Your worms will start migrating up into the second bucket for the fresh food. Wait about two weeks to give most of the worms time to migrate up into the second bucket before you harvest the vermicompost from your original bucket. 
  • Regularly check the bottom bucket for liquid that has drained off of the vermicompost and use it as a fertilizer on any plants that need it.
  • Repeat the above steps as each level becomes full. 
Explaining the above process: Your worm bin will work in levels. The first level is where you start out with the worm bedding and food. Once that is broken down you will add the next level and the worms will gladly move into a new home with new food. The broken down stuff left on level one is your finished vermicompost. This is for you to use in your garden. You will switch back and forth between two of the buckets, emptying the finished vermicompost, then adding fresh food and bedding for your hard working worms to continue breaking down and making compost for you. The third bucket you have is going to be used to catch moisture off of the first two buckets. This mixture is referred to as vermicompost tea. Most people use it to fertilize their plants.

Tips for your Vermicompost:
Best foods for compost worms:  bread, carrots, coffee grounds, cucumbers, fruit peelings, lettuce, melon rinds, plain pasta, unsweetened cereal
Worst foods for compost worms: citrus fruits, citrus fruit rinds, potatoes, potato peels, onions, onion skins, also never add meat, fat, or dairy food to your worm bin.

Don't let compost get too dry, this will kill your worms.
Also, do not let the compost get too wet, the compost should feel as moist as a wrung-out sponge, to resolve a too wet worm bin you will need to stop adding foods that have a high moisture content. These foods include: berries, cucumbers, melons, and tomatoes. Once you get your bed back to normal you can start to incorporate these again, but do so in moderation. Also you will want to add fresh dry bedding to the bin. Just pull aside some of the wet contents and add a couple of layers of the new dry bedding, this will help to absorb some of the moisture.

Keep in mind that a vermicompost that is too wet can drown your worms.

When starting the new layer of vermicompost you may want to take a handful or two of the old vermicompost and add to it. This can help to introduce a few worms to the new bin and possibly some helpful microorganisms and worm eggs in order to help with the composting process.
Once you have this system down you can start adding more worm bins in order to expand your composting abilities.

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