Harness the Power of Vermiculture With Worm Bins

Build do-it-yourself worm bins to create organic fertilizer for your garden.

  • Chester uses a pitchfork to mix the worm-enhanced compost every now and then. He says that it requires less work than traditional composting because it needs to be turned less frequently.
    Photo courtesy Fox Chapel Publishing
  • The "lid" for the worm bin is just a bunch for 1x6 planks. Easy enough.
    Photo courtesy Fox Chapel Publishing
  • You can buy worms online or in your area, or just collect them from your yard.
    Photo courtesy Fox Chapel Publishing
  • TO keep the moisture from escaping, Chester puts a layer of cardboard on top of the pile.
    Photo courtesy Fox Chapel Publishing
  • Urban homesteading just got easier with Chris Gleason's "Building Projects for Backyard Farmers and Home Gardeners."
    Cover courtesy Fox Chapel Publishing

Transform an ordinary backyard into a productive farm with Chris Gleason’s Building Projects for Backyard Farmers and Home Gardeners (Fox Chapel, 2012). Gleason provides inspiration and instruction for 21 gardening and animal projects to complete the transformation. The excerpt that follows, from “How Does Your Garden Grow?: Garden Upkeep,” will teach you how to install vermiculture worm bins to create your own organic fertilizer.

This book can be purchased from the GRIT store: Building Projects for Backyard Farmers and Home Gardeners.

Harness the Power of Vermiculture

My friend Chester has gotten involved with a novel garden-related activity. Inspired by a neighbor, he is now a big advocate of vermiculture, which means using worms to speed up and improve composting. He has found it to be an inexpensive and easy way to enrich his garden’s soil, and it looks pretty fun to boot. He adds all his family’s kitchen scraps, and anything else that would normally be composted, to his worm bin, where the worms break it down and produce a powerful organic fertilizer called worm castings. Note that worm bins should be kept out of direct sunlight, and do not winter over unless they are heated somehow. If you live somewhere with cold winters, try building a portable worm bin that you can move into your garage when the weather turns cold.

Building Worm Bins

The heart of the system is a simple box that Chester built from reclaimed Trex decking material, although he noted that you could use just about whatever material you can lay your hands on. His bin measures 4' x 4' (1220 x 1220mm), and it is about 18" (460mm) deep. He uses a bunch of old 1x6 (19 x 140mm) boards for a top. If you don’t know where to start when building a box, take a look at the raised bed projects below—put a bottom on either of those for a very serviceable worm bin.

How to Use Worm Bins

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