Urban Composting: Making A Red Wriggler Worm Compost Bin

Urban Composting: Making A Red Wriggler Worm Compost Bin

This post is the second of a two-part compilation on composting with red wriggler worms.

Making a Worm Bin is much easier than it may seem at first. It is a fun and easy process anyone can do. Below is a step by step process for making a worm bin. To make a Worm Bin, you will need the following items:

Plastic storage bin (medium or large)
Drill or screwdriver (be careful!)
Organic gardening soil
Organic compost
Recycled cardboard
Vegetable and fruit scraps

Prepping Your Worm Bin

Using a drill or a heated screwdriver (be very careful in any case and keep children away at this point!!!), puncture 3-4 holes 1 or 2 inches below the top of the plastic bin. This allows for fresh oxygenated air to enter so your worms can breathe!

Turn the storage bin upside down and puncture 6 to 8 (or more) holes in the bottom. If conditions within the bin become uninhabitable for the worms, they can escape to freedom. The adventurous worms often burrow out, so check under the bin weekly to see if they are trapped underneath.

If you are putting only the Suggested Food Scraps in the bin (see below) and the bin does not feel hot or steamy, then you can simply put the worms on top of your compost layers again. They will go back to munching away on their gourmet feast!

Prepping Your Suggested Food Scraps

Globally, 1.4 billion tons of food is thrown into landfills yearly. The food is usually in a sealed plastic bag – which makes it all the worse! That food is not going anywhere for an exceptionally long time and the plastic remains on the Earth for millions of years!

To help mitigate this effect, conscious people can compost. Since I began worm composting almost 2 years ago (with only 1 bin at that time), we have reduced trash bags going to the landfill by 75% or more! It has given my household a greater awareness of food waste, too!

When our worms could not keep up with our weekly food waste, we began to become aware our serious food waste problem that we had not even noticed existed – which sadly was initially very high due to buying more at the store to reduce grocery trips. We began a much more careful “food in” and “food out” inventory; and, we are happy to announce we have almost no food waste now and have saved a lot of money in the process.

But do not be alarmed! If you have too much food scraps and no room in your bin, freeze them. This is better for the worms in the long run.

All vegetable and fruit scraps can go in the worm compost bin: EXCEPT: garlic, onions, hot peppers (chilis or jalapenos, for example), and citrus fruits. In addition, do not put cooking oils, cooked foods, dairy, or meats in the worm compost bin. Tea leaves are great. SOME coffee grounds are okay OCCASIONALLY.

When you cut up fresh food scraps (“very small, please!” request your worms) it can take a week or so before the scraps decompose and liquefy enough to be eaten by our worm kids. When you take frozen scraps out of the fridge and chop it up it often turns into a liquid mush. This is exactly what the worms crave!

Try to separate veggie greens and other acceptable veggies and fruits separate inside or outside of the freezer. The idea is to keep the greens separate from all other veggies and fruits. This separation should occur whether the food scraps are kept in a freezer or not

Prepping Your Recycled Cardboard

Save your cereal boxes, Amazon boxes, and any paper or cardboard packaging. “Reduce, reuse, and recycle” is the motto. Now we will reuse that cardboard! Shred or tear up the cardboard and save it in a dry place. Cardboard is both the bedding and a huge food source for the worms.

When you are ready to make the composting layers in your bin (see below), place several handfuls of cardboard in a bucket that has been cleaned free of any cleaning product or chemical.

Add water. Mix the water and cardboard together. Squeeze out the excess water from the cardboard pieces before applying to the worm compost bin. The consistency should be like a damp sponge after the water is squeezed out of it.

If you do not seem to be harvesting enough cardboard and paper packaging, start saving the napkins you use to wipe your mouth and paper towels (that do not have chemicals on them). The worms love it!

Creating A Home for Your Worms & “Compost Layering” in the Worm Bin

First, add 2 inches of organic soil to the bottom of your worm compost bin (after drilling or puncturing the holes as described above). Then, add 2 inches of organic compost. Thereafter you will make layers of food scraps alternating with damp cardboard and paper products. It is suggested to keep GREENS separate from all other food scraps. Greens ideally go on top to keep the bin from heating up. A layer of wet or dry paper products on top is said to reduce fruit flies, etc.

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Worm Bin Maintenance

Worm compost bins are easy to keep up with. I add damp cardboard and food scraps once every week or every other week. You will be able to “eyeball” how much of each is needed very quickly. In hotter climates or hot times of year, more damp cardboard may have to be added liberally.

Black Gold (worm castings)

The red wriggler worms will tend to stay in the upper layers of the worm bin and what moves downward? Black gold! Black gold is worm poo; or worm excrement. Black gold is a mixture of soil, broken down food particles, broken down cardboard, and worm excrement. This makes a superb natural organic fertilizer for indoors and out door plants and vegetables – it is full of nitrogen and phosphorus and life!

Thanks for reading! If you find this information useful, or would like to share your insights about composting, send an email to: amritaculture@amritavirtualacademy.com

Urban Composting: Introduction to Using a Red Wriggler Worm Compost Bin

Urban Composting: Introduction to Using a Red Wriggler Worm Compost Bin

Hello everyone and welcome.

I will be offering a series of urban gardening articles for the Amrita Virtual Academy blog. In this first edition on Urban Gardening & Composting, I offer to you one of several effective ways of composting when you live in an urban environment.

This post is the first of a two-part compilation on composting with red wriggler worms.

I live in the middle of the capital of Estado de Mexico, called Toluca. It is a bustling and vibrant city right outside of Mexico City.

Our local chapter, GreenFriends Mexico, focuses on urban gardening, urban composting, and the vital need for Source Reduction. (Source Reduction means to consciously reduce the output of waste we create. Even recyclable materials need to be reduced – or re-used – if possible.)

What is an urban environment? How do we define such a thing?

Literally, it is living in the city in a home or possibly an apartment. There may be a little patch of grass outside, a small yard, a mini-balcony, or a small patio. These are great environments to start a nice Red Wriggler Worm Compost Bin!

Why Red Wriggler Worm Composting?

One question that comes up about vermiculture (worm composting) is: “Can this be done in the city?” The answer is yes! In some urban homes it is easier than others. However, we can get creative in homes that have less or no green space.

Even in more rural areas – such as newer modern housing complexes or gated communities – they have small porches and little or no green space or yards. This is a common trend in many areas.

In our modern “cement jungles,” it is especially fun for children and “kids at heart” to play with these amazing little worm souls! Kids love to participate, learn, and play with the worms!

It helps both children and adults that live in cities and other urban areas to connect with Mother Nature, understanding composting (and how long it takes for even food waste to “go away”), and to experience the wonders of Life right at home in the palms of your hands!

There are three initial questions you will want to answer before starting a worm compost bin:
Where will my worm compost bin be placed?

How large of a worm bin is manageable in the space I have?

If I live in a cold climate, do I have a place to bring the worms inside, so they do not freeze to death?

Q1: Where will my worm compost bin be placed?

A: In an urban environment, there are many places you can explore placing a worm bin. In a garage, on a balcony, porch, patio, or if you are lucky enough to have a private green space that would be great.

Q2: How large of a worm bin is manageable in the space I have?

A: Urban homes come in many different shapes and sizes depending on which city and part of a city you live in. If you have more space like a garage, patio, balcony, or strip of green land outside, a worm composting bin is perfect in these spots.

I have two bins in my tiny garden outside!

I have used medium sized to large plastic storage bins to house my red wriggler worms.

The bin cannot be too small! They need space to play, live, move, and eat. If the bin is too small or uncomfortable, they may seek new living arrangements soon!

For small apartments and homes with limited space, the worm bin may not be the best option. We will share more blogs on urban composting to come in future months, too!

Q2: If I live in a cold climate, do I have a place to bring the worms inside, so they do not freeze to death?

A: This is probably the largest consideration for using worm bins in an urban area. What are your autumns and winters like? During cold seasons, the worm bins must be brought indoors – in a garage for example. If you are shivering outside, it is too cold for your worms, too! In temperate and warmer climates (like mine), the bin can stay out year-round.

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Red Wriggler Worm Fun Facts

You can only use red wriggler worms in the compost bins for your vermiculture experiment. Other species like the common earth worm will die in the compost bins because they do not like enclosure like the red wrigglers do.

Red wriggler worms are hermaphroditic! Expect babies over time! The red wrigglers tend to gather in clusters in the bin to eat and hang out. When their bodies rub together, larvae are produced which look like little brown or whitish-brown beads. You will definitely notice the babies as they are tiny, and the adult worms are long, plump, and large!

Red wriggler worms eat their body weight worth of food a day!

If ever you want the worms to descend deeper in the bin, shine a flashlight on them or talk loudly. They do not prefer the sunlight or loud voices to interrupt their seva (selfless service) or eating meditations!

You can buy your red wriggler worms online with a simple Google Search.

This makes a superb natural organic fertilizer for indoors and outdoor plants and vegetables – it is full of nitrogen and phosphorus and life!

Thanks for visiting us & reading. Come back soon!