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What is a Worm Bin?

A worm bin is a complex designed to create compost using worms. Vermicomposting, or worm composting, is different from traditional composting.  Worm composting is a method that uses red earthworms, also commonly called red worms, to utilize organic waste, producing castings (an odor-free compost product for use as mulch), soil conditioner, and topsoil additive.  Naturally occurring organisms, such as bacteria and millipedes, also assist in the aerobic degradation of the organic material.

Vermicomposting is especially useful for processing food scraps, since the worms consume the material quickly and there are fewer problems with odor.  Worm composting does not generate temperatures high enough to kill pathogens.  For this reason, vermicomposting is more appropriate for food, paper, and yard waste.

Why to create a Worm Bin?

Although much of this organic waste can be recycled in the backyard using traditional aerobic backyard composting techniques, these techniques are not appropriate for apartment dwellers and are often inconvenient, particularly during bad weather in the winter.  Additionally, many municipalities prefer that food wastes NOT be composted in the backyard compost pile in order to cut down on problems with odors and pests.

Vermicomposting is an excellent technique for recycling food waste in the apartment as well as composting yard wastes in the backyard.  Finished vermicompost can be used in potting soil mixes for house plants and as a top dressing for lawns.  Screened vermicompost combined with potting soil mixes make an excellent medium for starting young seedlings.  Vermicompost also makes an excellent mulch and soil conditioner for the home garden.  In short – creating a worm bin for compost saves you money on top soil, potting soil, and fertilizers and saves your municipality money on landfill costs.

In terms of ease of composting, nothing tops vermicomposting.  Worms can compost garbage faster than any other type of composting method.  Each day a worm eats half its weight in food.  Furthermore, it take far less effort to care for your worm bin than to maintain an outdoor compost pile.

Steps for Creating a Worm Bin

Below is a sample timeline for a worm bin project where individuals will be building their own bins and the materials and tools will be provided by your organization:

red-worms

  • Determine the target audience for the worm bin construction
  • Order materials from supplier
  • Arrange for a location to store and build the worm bins
  • Arrange for materials to be delivered or to pick up the materials (NOTE: this may be an additional cost)
  • Purchase or arrange to borrow needed tools
  • Advertise the worm bin construction day through as many outlets as possible
  • Create and print steward’s manual/educational materials
  • Host worm bin construction day
  • Arrange site visits to make sure that the worm bins are functioning properly and answer any questions that the bin owners might have
  • Call worm bin owners to remind them to clean out their worm bins to instill good maintenance habits

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