Worm Compost Bins - Lots Of Different Choices

Adding worms to a compost bin makes the compost much more effective and also easier to handle. The process is actually called vermicomposting, or more commonly, earthworm farming.

Some people do this in order to harvest the worms for fishing, and the compost is just a nice side benefit. But we're here to talk about worm compost bins right now, so we'll concentrate on the process of raising worms to get the compost. That compost is called worm castings, and is actually the worm excrement. But it doesn't smell at all, and is a great compost for all types of gardens and plants.

The idea is to feed the earthworms the various types of waste organic matter that would go into a regular compost pile (with the exception of animal products, pineapples, citrus fruits, and onions and their relatives). The end result is the castings. The structure where the worms are kept is called the worm bed. That would equate to the compost bin in regular composting. There are a number of different types of these being used.

One worm composter uses a container with holes drilled in it on the sides and bottom. You put a layer of gravel on the bottom, cover it with a few sheets of newspaper and some organic matter for food, a little dirt, and put the worms in. Then cover it with something like newspaper, a garbage bag, or a metal lid. Put it over a pan, raised up on some sort of spacers, to catch any liquid ('leachate') that leaks out. After replenishing the waste matter when it gets low for a few weeks, while always allowing the contents to remain loose and aerated, you remove the contents and take the worm castings out, then start over.

A different type of worm compost bin uses two containers of the same size with holes, placed one on top of the other. Once again raise them up over a pan, or just set them on top of a third container of the same size. In this plan, you set the top container up similarly to the prior setup. When the top container is about half full, move the container under it to the top. Then put some food, etc. in that pan, and in a few weeks, all the worms will move to the top, leaving you just great compost in the center bin.

In both these septups, any leachate that drips to the lowest pan will make an excellent liquid fertilizer.

A third type of worm composting setup is called a swag. This uses a sack, usually made of plastic, with a wide top and a narrow bottom. The top is held open by a metal ring, and the bottom is tied shut. A bucket is placed under the bottom to catch the leachate. It can be hung from a sturdy post or tree, or a stand is available for purchase. You just feed the worms as above, and when the castings are ready, untie the bottom and squeeze them out. One reviewer said it made him think of milking a cow!

So there you have three different types of worm compost bins. Actually, there are many variations on the above, and some that fall into completely different categories, because everybody that starts a worm farm gets ideas about changes they might want to make that would make their setup be a little easier, or provide better compost. If you decide to give it a try. I'm sure you'll come up with some great ideas yourself!

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