Congratulations, you’ve got worms! But these aren’t just any worms. They are composting worms. These worms break down organic material (i.e., kitchen scraps) and create nutritious castings that can be used as fertilizer in plants at your home or garden. If properly cared for, worms can eat up to their own weight in food scraps a day. Worms are just like any other living thing — they need several things to survive: air, water, food, and a nice place to live and reproduce.

Worm Bins

You can buy prefabricated worm bins at your local hardware store or online. If you’re looking to make a low-budget worm bin, it’s easy. You just need some plastic tubs and a drill. Use 3 plastic storage bins with snap-on covers. They can be 7-by-12 inches or the larger size available at drug stores and hardware stores. Drill a lot of 1/8-inch holes in the bottoms of two bins and along the top edge of both bins. Make sure that the holes are big enough for your worms because later on when you swap the order of the bins, they will crawl up into the bin above. Stack the two perforated bins inside of the solid bin. Begin adding worms, shredded paper, and food to the bottom (solid) bin and the worms will work their way up!

Here’s another way to build your own worm bin with plywood.

Worm Habitat

By taking a container and filling it with some topsoil and a little sand, you have the start of an indoor worm bin. Shredded newspaper makes a great worm bedding and is readily available. This is where the worms will get their water. Shred newspaper into ½-inch strips and then thoroughly moisten. It should be as wet as a wrung-out sponge. It should not be too wet, or the worms will drown.

Always keep a 1-2 inch layer of moist shredded newspaper on top of the bedding. As well as keeping the worms moist, this will prevent fruit flies. Worms live in the soil and therefore prefer the dark. Keeping a loose fitting lid on the bin will provide darkness and should allow enough air into the bin.

Feeding Worms

Worms will eat up to their own weight in food a day. At first, it is important to start off with less food until the population is established and begins to reproduce and grow.

Daily: place about a handful of food under the layer of moist newspaper. Start in one corner, and as you add more food, work your way around the bin. Never place new food on top of old food.

Trouble-shooting problems

  • Smells: Stop adding food. Make sure bin is not too wet. Add more newspaper if needed.
  • Fruit flies: Make sure food is covered by moist newspaper. Reduce amount of food.

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