Monday, March 14, 2011


I seem to be the center of a worm theme. My oldest, Aspen, started out as a wiggle worm graduated to bookworm and now we just call her "Worm". You know how family nicknames evolve.

So when she started a worm bin we took it in stride. "What is a worm bin" you ask? So did we! A worm bin is a composting system that you can have inside your home. In fact it needs to be in your home so the worms don't freeze the winter and it will be very convenient to use.

You can buy worm bins online, but the daughter of a builder tends to lean toward "do it yourself". Aspen found and enjoyed a workshop at Durham’s Scrap Exchange on Foster.

Now, back to the worm part of our story for they are the heroes of this story. Aspen’s worm bin is made of a plastic storage bin with a tight fitting lid. She drilled holes in the top and sides to give the worms air and in the bottom to drain the worm "tea". To start the process she filled it with shredded newspaper to the top. Then you moisten the paper just so. Not to soggy but definitely moist. Then you add the worms. Two pounds of worms (roughly 2000) to one pound of food scraps expected a week seems to be one formula, but the supplier of Aspen's worms gave her two fists full and that seems to have worked. The worms self-adjust their population based on how much you feed them, so the amount of worms you start with isn't that important. The worms need a few hours to become adjusted to their new accommodations. Start them off easy with just a couple of cups of vegetable scraps. Let them munch on that for a week. In the meantime you can start placing your food scraps in another smaller plastic container in your fridge. That process will keep them from rotting quickly and adding an unwanted bouquet to your kitchen. Then once a week add that collection to your worm bin and they will happily (so Aspen tells me) compost them for you. Each week you add fresh moist newspaper to the top to control odor and bugs. When you feed the worms you should use a gardening claw to lift up an inch or two below the top of the soil the worms have made and place your food under that layer.

Every six months or so you harvest the compost and add more newspaper. Weekly you can harvest the "tea". Aspen mixes her tea with a ratio of one-third tea and two-thirds water. She uses for plant inside and out. Sort of a poor mans Miracle Grow.

Recently Aspen started pestering me to pimp her worm bin. She wanted an easier way to harvest the compost and tea and to roll it in and out from under the shelf in the pantry.

A quick trip the big blue box store netted wheels, a plastic paint tray and a couple of plumbing parts. A few minutes of assembly (with a teaspoon of father/Worm banter) and voila, the worms have a new ride!

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