Worm Bin Basics

Worm Bin Basics

So, you’re considering starting a worm farm in a brand-new worm bin and are asking yourself "what do I need to know before I start?"

In this guide, we’ll cover all the important topics to get you better understanding the basics of vermicomposting, aka worm farming.

Choosing a worm bin

commercial worm bin

There are many types of worm bins available out there, and you can always make one yourself, but we recommend keeping it simple and going with something lightweight and user-friendly like the Worm Bucket. You can find out more about our product by visiting our homepage.

Getting worms

You should be able to buy worms online or locally, but if you have a large garden or outdoor space, you can also try what’s known as worm grunting, to get your own worms for free! Click this link to learn more about worm grunting, and to find out how it’s done.

As a beginner, a pound of worms or roughly 250, should be more than enough. You don’t want to overdo it because then the worms might get overcrowded and die due to poor airflow and/or drainage.

Worm bedding

worm bedding

You need to provide bedding, so your worms have a carbon-rich, moisture absorbent material to live in. You can use clothing scraps, shredded paper, coconut coir, cardboard pieces, aged compost, wood shavings, straw, dried leaves, soil, and anything else that’s high in carbon and biodegradable. If it qualifies as a ‘brown’ for your compost pile, chances are you can use it.

Change their bedding every few months or when you harvest the castings – your worms will appreciate it. For tips on harvesting, check out this link.

Feeding your worms

Now, let’s talk about the most important step, which is feeding. You can give your worms kitchen scraps, any uncooked food, bedding materials, and more. Just toss in some food as and when you have it, making sure your worms always have something to munch on. A pound of worms can work their way through half a pound of food every day.

Don’t give your worms oil, cooked food, citrus and any animal products (dairy, eggs, meat, bones), or you risk stinking up the bin. Check out this article for a full list of foods to avoid.

Drainage and ventilation

If you purchase a worm bin, ideally, it should take care of drainage and ventilation for you. The Worm Bucket, for instance, has an outer drainage bucket with a spigot, and escape-proof ventilation holes, so your worms have plenty of fresh air, but they can’t escape the bucket.

If you’re making your own worm bin, you will need to make sure these two conditions are met, or you risk having a stinky mess on your hands.

More tips

Here are some more tips for keeping your worms happy, healthy and productive:

  • worm food
    Keep the worm bin indoors where the temperature is ideal
  • Place the bin somewhere dark but well-ventilated (such as under a cabinet or table)
  • Avoid overfeeding your worms, or giving them too much of the same thing
  • Stop feeding them for a couple days before you harvest the castings
  • Moisten your browns before you give them to your worms, and drain the bin as needed

Worm Castings Benefits

vermicompost

What are worm castings and why should you use them for your plants? Worm castings are the excrement of worms, essentially their poop. Sometimes you might hear the castings called  vermicast or vermicastings because “vermi” means worm, therefore the procedure of using worms in composting is called vermicomposting. 

When worms eat organic matter like the scraps from your kitchen meals, they are actually feeding on the microorganisms in that material. Their castings turn into a super fertilizer rich in nutrients and it contains five times more nitrogen, seven times more of potassium and phosphorus, as well as two times more calcium than mere dirt alone.

Worm castings actually assist in making the dirt more healthy for your plants by aerating the soil via the tunnels the worms make as they burrow through the dirt, which in turn helps the dirt absorb water better too so it’s not too dry. The castings also contain beneficial fungi and bacteria which helps to support other organisms living in the soil, which is vital if you’re doing any organic gardening.

Plants even grow quicker in soil enriched via worm castings and in some cases get twice as big as plants that don’t get the benefit of worm casting fertilizer. Best of all worm castings are eco-friendly, chemical free, won’t burn your plants like chemical fertilizers and don’t smell bad like some types of fertilizer. Instead they have a rich, earthy odor.

Another benefit of worm castings for plants is it helps protect them so they can fight off diseases or pests like predatory insects.

 Using Worm Castings on Your Plants

photo of soil

The way you use this wonderful soil enhancer is by mixing it into your soil. A good ratio is a quarter percent of worm castings to three-quarters percent of potting mix. You can also add a cup of worm castings to two cups of dirt for starting seeds, and when you go to transplant your seedings, be sure to dump in about a quarter cup of them into each hole. If transplanting a tree or shrub, increase that to a full cup of worm castings for best results.

 Where to Get Worm Castings

One of the best ways to always have worm castings on hand to use in your garden is to raise worms yourself. It’s not difficult and all you need is a proper container, bedding such as shredded paper, cardboard and soil, enough water added to make it moist, but not sodden, and a lid so the worms don’t escape. 

Then, you just feed your worms kitchen scraps like peels, cores, leftover scraps, coffee grounds (even coffee filters), grass clippings (not weeds or the weeds will come back up in your garden or yard), etc. Just don’t feed them dairy, meat, oils, human or animal waste products, or citrus fruit scraps. 

Soon they will be producing the luscious worm castings you need to fertilize your plants. If you start off with around 200 worms, you will end up with around seven pounds of castings in a month or so. You just need to separate the castings from the worms via dumping out your worm bin and sorting through it. 

These castings resemble rich, dark dirt and look a little like coffee grounds. If you squish a handful of them together, they will make a clump which holds together and feels a little like a sponge consistency. It may have tiny pieces of the food you’ve been feeding them, but that won’t keep the castings from being beneficial to your plants.

head of cabbage

So, in answer to what are the benefits of worm castings for plants, you can see that they are a wonderful and all-natural method of fertilizing plants and are quite easy to obtain and maintain for achieving higher yield of vegetables, fruits, or any other type of plants you choose to grow.

Invest in a worm bin, such as the Worm Bucket, today and soon you'll have wonderful worm castings that you can use to fertilize your plants!

These were the basics of worm farming. Now you know what you need to learn further about. Our blog is an excellent resource for getting started – it has lots of bite-sized articles that cover everything from basics to how tos, dos and donts, and FAQs.

Happy Composting from Rob & Audrey at Wormbucket.com