donderdag 28 december 2017

How to make your DIY Wormbin ?

A Wormbin made out of recycled buckets.

A cheap and easy way to make your own Wormenpoep.

In many households it still is not a custom to separate organic waste. Big volumes of organic waste are added to the trash and are burned or end up in landfills. And that is a shame. Especially because this organic waste could be used to feed the soil if it would be composted.

If you would like to start composting at your home there are a few options. When you have limited space available in your garden and would like to start composting vermicomposting can offer a solution for you. If you like to start vermicomposting before investing in one of the many  wormbins that are on the market, you can make one yourself out of recycled plastic buckets. All you need is 2, 3 buckets, a fitting lid and a drill to make holes in the buckets. In many fast food restaurants you can get buckets for free.

Here you can learn in a few simple steps how to make your own DIY Worm Bucket:

Fill one of the buckets with water. Shred some cardboard and paper (don't use glossy or plasticized paper) and let this soak for some time. 

Drill 8 holes in the sidewall of the bucket, just under the edge on top. Use a drillbit of 10mm. These holes allow air to flow in and out of the bucket.

Also make holes in the bottom of the bucket (see image). These holes allow the leachate to flow out of your bucket.

Turn the bucket around and cover the holes from the inside of the bucket with newspaper. Also do this with the holes in the sidewall. Use toiletpaper for the holes on top for better airflow. The paper prevents the worms to escape your worm bin. 

Squeeze the wet cardboard until it stops dripping. Loosen the cardboard and paper and make a Thich bed of wet cardboard on the bottom of the bucket with the holes. The layer will be approximately 10 cm high.

This fluffy and wet layer will serve as a first home for your composting worms and will help to keep them happy after you introduced them into their new home. 

On top of this fluffy layer you add some 'living material'. You can use finished compost or use some healthy soil from your vegetable garden or forrest soil. In this way you start your 'composting eco-system'. 

Now is the moment you can add the composting worms. Add only a hand full. If you add too many they will want to escape your worm bin. 

Composting worms are for sale online, or you can ask around if someone can give you some from their worm bin. 

After this you add some more dry bedding material. Bedding material is the dry, carbon rich, moisture absorbing material that wil make your bin work great. 

After adding your foodscraps, be sure to add some dry 'brown' stuff to create a good balance between carbon and nitrogen. 

Stuff you can use as bedding is cardboard, paper, dried autumn leaves, thin twigs from herbs and straw. 
Some materials work beter for moist absorption (thick cardboard) and others better for keeping it fluffy and loose inside the worm bin (twigs and straw). 

Empty the bucket with water. This bucket will be the bottom of your wormbin and will be used to collect the leachate. Leachate can be used to feed the plants but is not the same as Compost Tea.

Place an empty plastic box upside down on the bottom of this bucket. This box will lift the second bucket to keep the holes for aeration open. 

N.B. If you like to learn to make your own compost tea. On the 29th of March we will give a  Workshop at plant shop Wildernis in Amsterdam.

Check regularly if liquid is collected in the bottom bucket and if so remove the liquid to prevent unpleasant smells. The liquid can be used to feed the plants (diluted 1:10 with water), but a better use might be to soak some cardboard in it and absorb this liquid. You can then put the cardboard back in to the bucket.  When used to feed the plants please make sure not to spray it on plants that you might eat uncooked (like salads, flowers or herbs). 

Place the bucket with your composting worms in the bottom bucket. Check if the air holes are left free (see image). If not change the plastic box in the bottom bucket with something higher. 

The composting worms hide under the bedding layer. Your worm bin is ready for use. 

You can now introduce the first bit of kitchen scraps. Cut the wast into small pieces (5cm or smaller) to speed up the composting.

Every time you introduce organic waste move the top-bedding aside and place the waste on top on one side. Cover the waste with the bedding you moved aside. After adding a layer of 10 cm of waste in your bin (over longer period of time) mix it with the old top-bedding and add new dry bedding on top. Close the bucket with the lid, or use some textile for better airflow (if stored outdoors make sure rodents and rainwater can't enter the worm bin).

When this bucket is full place a third bucket (fourth, fifth, etc.) on top. First you make holes in this bucket like in the previous one. Add some dry bedding on the bottom and continue as before. The worms will come up through the holes in the bottom and continue composting the waste in the next bucket. 

When first starting using your new worm bucket please allow some time for your worms to get adjusted to their new home. Wait with introducing more food for a few days. And from thereon add little bits every other day. Check if the worms are following the new food waste. If you see they are staying below stop adding food and wait till they processed the previously added waste.

The DIY Worm Bucket 

Some things to keep in mind when composting in a Worm Bucket:

Your DIY Worm Bucket is not a machine or a trash bin. It is a small eco-system. You will need to learn how to work with it before it will be able to process all of your organic waste. The composita worms have travelled to your home and need some adjusting to their new space. After starting the worm bin allow some days before adding more food scraps. 

When you have a lot of organic waste per week, you might want to consider after some time to change to another vermicomposter (there are many examples for sale) or build a nice worm hotel for your family or community. Le Compostier offers some designs for DIY worm hotels. If you are interested to build one yourself please send us an email.

Quiet, darkness, right temperature and moist.

* Composting worms like it quiet. Place your worm bucket on a quiet place where they are left alone most of the time. 

* Composting worms like it dark. Place the worm bucket in a dark place if you can, but be sure not to put them in direct sunlight.  

* Make sure the worms are kept in a place where temperatures don't exceed 35 degrees Celsius or drop below 0 degrees Celsius. Composting worms thrive with temperatures between 15 and 30. 

* The contents of the worm bucket need to be moist at aal times. Composting worms need to live in a moist environment. Keep it moist, but not wet. Make sure rainwater does not enter and in warm temperatures cover with a wet cloth or add more moist cardboard. Play with bedding material to regulate moisture levels. 

Use your own Wormenpoep to treat your garden and house plants. 

The wormenpoep (or worm castings) are fantastic to improve the soil. You can collect the compost from your worm bucket when the composting is finished. Finished vermi compost is dark brown and smells of forrest soil.

Vermicompost from the worm bucket might be very moist when harvested. Collect the castings in a plastic crate (foodgrade) and let it dry for some time. When you put some layers of cardboard on the bottom of the crate before adding the vermi compost any worms still left in the harvested compost will get under the cardboard and are easy to collect.

Add a handfulp of your own dried vermiste compost to plants in your garden or plant pots in your home.

You can also 'upgrade' old potting soil by adding vermicompost or make your own potting soil for your house plants with it using vermi compost and Cocopeat. In this blogpost you can read how: Make your own potting soil

What to put in your Worm Bucket and what better not?

Welcome in the worm bucket: 

Raw vegetable and fruit waste, made small. groente- en fruitresten, klein gesneden.
Flowers from ecological produce.
Teabags (natural material) without staple.
Coffee grounds (small amounts).
Eggshells (dried and made small).
Dried herb plants.
Old potting soil.

Beddingmaterial: sawdust (untreated wood), wood chips, dried leaves, cardboard, paper, straw and hay.

Not welcome in the Worm Bucket:  

Animal prote├»ne. Meat, fish, poultry.
Dairy.  Cheese, yoghurt, butter, milk.
Grain. Bread, cookies, cake, pasta, etc. .
Cooked foods.
Animal faeses.
Flowers with pesticides. 
Citrus fruits.
Oil and grease.

Good luck & let us know how your worm bin is working!

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