Sunday, February 13, 2011

Tutorial - The Worm Bin

We received two lbs of wiggely worms. FINALLY.

Mail ordered from here ... because none of our local nurseries had any. Worms are needed to turn all our compost into nutrious soil for our homestead to make the trees and tomatoes grow better and bigger (in theory). Our soil is not terribly bad but it can definetely use some improvement, which is why we ordered the wiggels.

We had ordered them a while back but USPS didn't deliver them, so we had to pick them up at the mail office. When Aurelia and I picked them up, it was stated on the package "Large unknown dog", indicating that somehow this was the reason for the non-delivery. I was upset that someone would think that my fantastic, sweet and loving BFF is first of all, just a "dog" and then more importantly she is somehow believed to be scary. Look at that face ....

Gotta admit, she can be frightening if tons of slobbery kisses are what scares you. Aurelia definetely has sympathy for you then, "Too much kissing, Schoko!" OR of course, if you are a squirrel, then you SHOULD be scared of her. She may never get you but she will be relentless in trying; Schoko can sit under a tree waiting for that squirrel to come down all day, if noone pulls her away.

In any event, we got our worms. They were much anticipated because there is work to do for them. I expect no less of them than to till the entire 8,000 square foot property. This is how a Roman Emporer must have felt: commanding these wiggely slave worms, only to after all their hard labor throw them infront of the lions, errr ducklings.

But where shall I house these guys?

While some people dig up a bunch of holes in the ground and divide the wiggels up, I was aiming for a more organised approach (I am German, after all). My friend Stefanie had already anticipated my need for a worm bin and send me information on how to build one myself. THANKS AGAIN!!! 

Of course, you can always buy a composter or worm bin. This will easily cost you a couple hundred bucks, even on sale but after hours of research and comparing. Or you can simply go to a store and get all the building materials for less than $ 10.

We used:
- Two plastic boxes that can be stacked into one another with lids. They must not be transparent, worms don't dig light.
- Newspaper (I used one of these 'free' publiactions that show up in my driveway on a weekly basis)
- Drill (I used an electric one to make super small holes)
- Some water
- Some organic waste
- Some mulch or soil
- Stones or other material to elevate

#1 Put one of the boxes incl. lid aside. This one remains intact. The other one receives some wormy improvements.

#2 Drill holes into the box bottom and around the top edges and into the lid. Be carefull not to crack the plastic (see picture under #3 on what NOT to do - I cracked the plastic, you can see it in the top left corner).

#3 Rip the newspaper in stripes and put in the manipulated box.

So far, so good ...

#4 Sprinkle the newspaper with water.

#5 Put some soil and/or mulch on top

#6 Now, bring the worms into their new home.

#7 Feed these guys by putting some organic waste on top. You may want to make the pieces a tad smaller for your new pets. The recommendation is also to NOT feed them citrus in large amounts.

#8 Now, we have to pay some attention to the unmanipulated box. Put in this box the elevation material; we used two stones.

#9 Stack the boxes into one another with the stone-box on bottom. Lid on. Done. Yes, you will end up with a spare lid.

We placed our box in a shady spot I water and feed them every now and then as well as check on how they are doing. Apparently, if you don't feed them enough, they may die and if you feed them too much, a yucky scent will emerge.

How much can they eat? Of course, some smarty pants academic did a study (prob got some government grant for solving this pressing issue and wrote a book) on this and found that these wiggely workers can eat as much organic waste as 4-6 times their body weight per day.

However, rule of thumb is to feed them half of worm weight of waste per day. So, in my case with 2 lbs of worms: In other words, we need to come up with 1 lbs of organic waste per day to keep them happy.

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

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