Now that Margaret and I are stationary for a while, we decided that we had no excuse not to have a worm bin. We were familiar with the basic steps: 1. Start saving your food scraps. 2. Get and a plastic bin. 3. Prepare the worm habitat with shredded paper and some dirt. 3. Get some worms. 4. Add food scraps and keep on adding. If you read the following, you’ll notice that I don’t follow the proper order…
I had heard that worms love butternut squash and my plan was to catch a whole bunch of them by burying some squash in our backyard. After three days, I dug up our squash and didn’t find a single worm. The squash looked almost edible, so I decided it hadn’t gotten rotten enough and decided to stick it back in the ground for a week. I forgot to dig it up at the end of week one, and when I finally got around to it after three weeks, it didn’t look rotten at all: no worms.
Luckily, we met some people who were willing to give us some starter worms. If you haven’t got a wormy social life, you can order them online from companies like the Happy D Ranch or Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm.
We bought a modestly-sized bin we found at the thrift store; how much food waste can two little people produce? I drilled holes around the rim for ventilation and we tore up a bunch of newspapers and bank statements as a basis for our worm bin. We don’t have a paper shredder, but a great way to destroy documents that contain important information (boy, I feel like Inspector Gadget saying this) is to tear them into strips and use them as bedding in your worm bin. It’s good as well if you soak the paper in water and wring it out, because the worms like a little moisture–not too much though. Add a couple spadefuls of dirt and our worm bin was ready for its tenants.
We added our worms to the bin and began to enjoy the self-righteous pleasure of dealing with our own food waste. We had learned that the worm population will reach an equilibrium with the habitat in our bin in about ninety days, so we were careful not to overwhelm them with too much food waste. Throughout the process of preparing for the worms, we had been saving our food scraps and by this point they were nice and rotten.
Keeping the bin under our kitchen sink was very convenient. There is no odor as long as your bin is in good health. After two months, our worm bin smelled of soil when we opened it to add new food scraps. We did notice that there were a few fruit flies laying eggs around the rim of the bin and on the underside of the bin, but the shredded paper we covered the food with seemed to keep them down.
In addition, a good friend of ours, Bryant Holsenbeck, gave us Mary Appelhof’s excellent guide to vermiculture, Worms Eat My Garbage. This has proven a great resource as we have begun our venture into worm bins.