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DIY Vermicomposting – A Worm Farm on a Budget
Have you wanted to set up a home worm farm but been put off by the high cost of buying one of the clean ones “designer label” multi-level “vermicomposting” kits promoted by garden centers and mail order companies? Well, let’s cut the crap! – IT’S NOT ACTUALLY A SECRET !!! – You can easily make your own DIY kit of three trash cans for just a few dollars and your worms will be as happy as little pigs in yellow stuff, without a big bad wolf in sight. Plus, you don’t need to be a seasoned craftsman to pull this off!
- Hardware stores, supermarkets and camping sites sell solid black (opaque) general purpose plastic storage containers at a very reasonable price. They are usually tapered so that they can be nested for easy stacking on shelves and are equipped with “fitting”ce cover. You will need three of these conical containers (but only one lid) for your worm farm. For a simple home worm farm, I would recommend 12 gallon (45 liter) containers. They will usually be about 15 inches (400 mm) deep. You can go smaller if you want.
- In the first storage container, drill a 3/8 inch (15 mm) hole centered on the side of the bin, just above the bottom. Insert a ½ inch (12mm) cheap plastic barrel or watering can (with washers) into your hole and quickly tighten it with locknuts – make sure you get a good seal – test by filling the container with tap water. This container should be the lowest in your pile and will keep the nutritional value high”worm tea” leachate that will begin to drip from the compost bins above. Worm tea is a valuable liquid organic fertilizer that can be diluted and applied directly to organically vegetables.
The two top bins will actually hold the worms. They must be identical and prepared as follows:
- Drill ¼ inch (6 mm) holes across the entire bottom of each container for drainage and to allow for drainage and upward migration of compost worms, these holes should be regularly spaced about two inches (50 mm) on centers in both directions.
- For ventilation, drill two rows of ¼ inch (6 mm) holes on two inch (50 mm) centers in a continuous band around each of the containers. This band of holes would be about four inches (100 mm) below the top edge of the bin.
- It is not necessary to drill holes in the lid, which is tightly closed over the upper basket. as you should get enough air through the sides.
- First, place the lower (liver) container on the bricks or blocks so that you have enough room to pump the liquid from under it. Choose a shady location (in a shed or garage if subject to frost) to grow worms.
- The second and third containers are “nested” inside each other and fall into the container. To maintain working space for the worms and compost accumulation, you need some spacers or packers about six to eight inches high between the two top bins and some smaller packers about four inches in size in the bottom (liver) bin. . You can use wooden cubes or closed food jars for packaging. The packings also prevent the conical auger containers from jamming together.
- To prevent “evil bugs” from crowding into the bins, close (seal) a small gap between them with strips of shade cloth or mosquito netting.
Now you are ready to start production. Space prevents us from giving full detailed notes here on the finer points of the operation of the system, such as the selection and feeding of your worms, the eradication of vermin, and the maintenance of a worm farm, etc. You can visit our website for this information. But make sure you cover the following points:-
- Place your worms in an upper bin with a good (moist) fibrous substrate (or even shredded newspaper) and after a few days you’ll be ready to start feeding your kitchen scraps. Cover the food with more bedding material to keep out pests and leave the lid closed.
- Make sure that the worm farm never dries out by sprinkling the bedding with water from time to time if there is not enough moisture from the leftover food.
- After the top bin has been fully productive for a while, the worms will reproduce and the worm castings will begin to accumulate compost. When the amount of compost is sufficient, stop adding feed to this bin and swap the top two bins so bin no. 2 place on top of stack, container no. 1 is now in the middle. Set up this new top bin with clean litter, a small amount of old castings, and immediately start stacking kitchen scraps in it. The worms will naturally migrate upwards towards the new food source, leaving the bottom bin with only a few left over and ready to harvest your compost in about three weeks after the switch.
- All you need to do is to regularly repeat the process of alternating the above two containers, taking out the compost whenever it accumulates and squeezing it out. worm tea from time to time. Use both products in your garden to grow delicious, all-organic vegetables and stunning roses. Sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor – your worms do most of the work anyway!
To see a detailed diagram of this simple worm farm as described and some illustrative photos, you can visit our website at http://www.working-worms.com/
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