Here’s a worm compost made out of recycled materials. This old metal drum was rusting away behind our house, so we decided to put it to good use. A friend cut it in half so we could put the 2 halves together into a long bathtub shape. We drilled holes through the bottom for drainage and placed an old plastic tub underneath to catch the ‘worm water’ – a good Nitrogen-rich fertilizer for plants. We added layers of cardboard, newspaper and food scraps (also all recycled materials). We collect the food scraps from restaurants in town, tapping into a renewable and largely wasted resource. The worms were donated from a friend’s compost pile. All of this resulted in a pretty sweet set-up with some great results!
The worms act as biodigesters. They digest organic matter (such as food scraps) to produce worm castings (worm manure). These castings are rich in water-soluble nutrients and Nitrogen – creating some of the highest quality soil and fertilizer for your land.
For vermicompost, the worm species you want to be looking for are Red Wrigglers (Eisenia foetida or Eisenia andrei), European Nightcrawlers (Eisenia hortensis), or in the tropics Blueworms (Perionyx excavatus).
If you’re starting off your worm colony with a small number of worms (100 let’s say), it’s a good idea to keep them together in a small space before letting them loose in the big bin. Worms are hermaphrodites and reproduce by rubbing against each other. Therefore, by keeping them in a smaller space, you increase the frequency with which they rub against one another, increasing their rate of reproduction. In a big space they are less likely to ‘find’ and ‘rub’ each other. A good idea to start off a colony is to keep upgrading the size of your bin as your colony grows. Start off with a litre milk jug and work your way up to a bathtub. That way your worms will always get plenty of sexy rub action and your colony will thrive!
Another idea is to order worms online. That way you can start off with a large colony and can put them straight into your big bin.
Any way you do it, vermiculture (worm keeping and composting) is an excellent way to produce high-quality soil from a frequently wasted resource, keeping both your worms and your garden very healthy and happy!