Here is how we did it with a few materials in 10 easy steps.
What you need:
- Plastic bin (we used a 20gal which is good for 2 people) with a lid that fits
- Larger lid to use as a drainage tray
- Drill and screws
- Hardware cloth and aluminum window screen
- Hot glue gun
- Box cutter and scissors
- Shredded newspaper
- Water with a neutral pH of 7
- Worms - Reg Wigglers are a good type because of they generally hang out in the shallow area of the soil, so they will be happy in the depth of a 20gal bin (we ordered red wigglers online from Worm Lady)
Cost: $50-$60 project
We had most of the materials needed already, so spent approximately $20 on materials and $30 on the worms. We found the hardware cloth and aluminum window screen in the garage, so if this is not something you already have, expect to spend an additional $10 for it.
10 Step Instructions
Step 1: Drill several drainage holes in the bottom of the container, a few inches apart. There is really no set formula for this, just space them relatively evenly and make sure they are distributed throughout the bottom to provide even drainage.
Step 5: Lay the piece of hardware cloth piece on top of the piece aluminum screen. Screw the pieces in that order on top of the hole to hold it in place. This will provide air circulation into the bin and keep anything from getting in or out of the box.
Step 7: Moisten the newspaper using water that has a neutral pH (7) - that's what worms like. The newspaper should feel like a rung-out sponge.
Step 10: Cover, and move the bin to your desired location where it is around 70 degrees. Inside this is easy, but if you have it outside, it will need to be brought in over the winter. The bin definitely doesn't smell if you take care of them!
That's how to set it up. We've had it for about a month now, and this is what we've learned to maintain it with a little food scraps and water:
What you need:
- Water with a neutral pH
- a food grade spray bottle
- food scraps (no onions, or alliums in general)
The newspaper will provide enough food as it breaks down for the worms in their first 3 weeks. Start keeping food scraps in the kitchen, letting them warm up and start to breakdown before feeding the worms. We started feeding them once a week, and you can increase the frequency overtime. The larger the bin, the more often you can feed them.
Always keep the bedding moist so that it feels like a rung-out sponge. We spray the bedding gently with water from a spray bottle once a week. Keeping a full bottle of neutral pH water right next to the bin makes this job easier.
We're not there yet, but here is a good method we learned:
- Monitor the amount of worm castings monthly
- Every 3 months or so plan to harvest the bin; you should get a lb or so yield (at least that's we've heard).
- To remove the castings without disturbing the worms, start moving the bedding and food scraps towards one side of the bin until the bottom layer of worm
- Remove the castings and move the bedding back slowly over a few days. You can add fresh bedding too.
Now we have fish and worms that we are taking care of, while they produce yields to feed us and make the soil healthy.