How I Made My Worm Bin

I've said before that dirts get a bad rap, but far beneath the reputation of dirt is that of worms. Yet, without the i...

I've said before that dirts get a bad rap, but far beneath the reputation of dirt is that of worms. Yet, without the important part of the ecosystem that is God's perfect composter gardening would be hard for me to afford.

The dirt in my garden stinks. It's sand and coal and terribly eroded of top soil. We don't have a lot of organic matter. This makes gardening the least bit organically (I do my best not THE BEST), difficult. Worms are helping my soil building along. They munch through compost and create high nutrient organic matter, they seed their castings with beneficial microorganisms, they lay their eggs in the dense matter and their children till and aerate the new soil.

For these reasons I encourage you to start your own worm bins.

For the following reasons, I urge you to use caution when ordering online.

For months I had been meticulously researching vermicomposting. After a successful season starting a black soldier fly colony, I was excited to start a bin of earth worms for a more concentrated soil amendment. Late August, I decided that I had the time and resources to establish a worm bin and reap the rewards of my labor over a long fall and winter season the following spring.

I placed an order a well reputable worm breeder online, the glowing reviews assured me that I'd receive the shipment in a timely manner and the worms would be lively, but skinny. That was acceptable to me.

Upon their arrival, I could tell by the look on the delivery driver's face something had gone horribly wrong. The smell of what I could only presume comparable to a dead body wafted in my direction as he handed me a package full of holes. The driver chuckled jovially, "We wondered at the warehouse what was in the package."

My, how they must have wondered.

I kept hope alive, even though it reeked of despair. Having never had earthworms before and only ever dug them from the soil as a child with grubby hands eager to use them for fishing, assumed that maybe I was in for more than I bargained. Maybe worms just smelled.

My daughter was excited. I had told her earlier in the day we were getting a package full of worms, and I could see the wheels spinning in her head. She was ecstatic, despite the smell.

So, I opened the package.

They were decomposing. The decomposers were decomposing. I gagged and recoiled and threw the box away as fast as I could. I slammed the bin to our garbage container shut outside and prayed for our waste workers.

After a few phone calls, I was able to secure a refund, and I was left without worms. My bin full of fresh coco coir, vegetable scraps and egg shells sat empty of life. I was basically going to throw it all away and call it a day.

Then, my husband had an idea, "Isn't the bait they sell at Walmart just worms?"

He's a genius.

Luckily, they were. What's more after doing the math, the exact cost of my worms ordered online were also the exact cost of clearing out all the bait at Walmart. They were alive. They were active. They gained a reprieve from the hook.

They were smell free. 

I didn't have to ship them.

I should have done the math to begin with.

What should worms smell like?

Worms shouldn't smell like anything save fresh soil. If your worm bin smells something is off.

What type of worms should I use?

My experience with red wigglers has been nothing but fantastic. They're forgiving, and boy have I made mistakes. Some use european night crawlers. Or a mixture or assortment. All of those are perfectly fine, but the regular earthworms in your garden may not fair as well in your bins.

How much does it cost?

Worm bins are cheap. I spent approximately 30 dollars on worms and coco coir. I recommend coco coir because it's super absorbent and does well retaining water as your bin grows it will need that. Worms are over 80% water, so they love the coco coir.  People use all manner of containers, I use rubber maid containers.

How should you get started?

The main concern should be just to start. It doesn't matter how one starts. You don't need coco coir even. You can just use shredded cardboard. No need to buy a lot of worms. Start out with 20 feed them slowly, and let them expand on their own in your bin.

Just start.

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