Starting a Worm Composting Bin

-Written by Steph

So the thing is, we’re actually NOT just about finding cheap apartments, writing e-books on how to be frugal, and spending ridiculously low amounts of money while living an active downtown lifestyle with frequent international travel. We’re actually very focused on self-sufficiency as well, and have long dreamt of growing our our food! We’ve also noticed that being vegans, we produce a TON of vegetable scraps. I also cut Cel’s hair, and holy hell is there ever a lot of it going into the garbage every month. So why not combine those things, and create a productive garden and fancy composting system? Unless we discover some vegetable that grows really well in the winter we won’t be starting the gardening half of that for now, but we can definitely compost!

So, a bit about worm composting before we start. I’m not an expert by any means, but it seems pretty simple so far. It’s a great option for apartments or small spaces because it takes way less space than a traditional composter, doesn’t require turning, and works great with the smaller amounts or compostable stuff that city apartment dwellers tend to produce. Besides feeding the worms once a week or so, it pretty much takes care of itself.

The easiest way to get started, if you live in Vancouver, is to give the city a call and sign up for a workshop. They give you everything you need, including a class, for $25. Otherwise, you need to acquire the following:

  • Rubbermaid bin with two lids – one lid goes underneath to collect excess water
  • Shredded newspaper, dry leaves, straw, wood shavings (nothing acidic!), or some combination or dry brown material
  • 1/2 pound red wiggler worms
  • A few handfuls sand or soil – if it’s sand, make sure it’s not salty ocean sand or you’ll kill the worms!
  • Watering can

Here’s all my stuff assembled and ready to go (cat for scale):

First

First, I filled the bin about halfway with bedding material, which was a mix of straw and newspaper. Threw in a few handfuls of freshwater sand I picked up from an aquarium supply store. Here it is at that point:

Second

You can’t really see the sand, but it’s there. Then I gave it a good watering, but not too crazy – don’t want to drown the worms! About the dampness of a wrung out towel.

Fourth (2)

Then it was time to add the worms! They came in a heap of composted cow shit. Say hi to the Undertakers! Gotta name the worms.

Fourth (1)

I dumped them in the bin, added a bit more bedding and water, and almost forgot to feed them. Here they are in the bin in all their cow shit glory:

Fifth

Lastly, it was feeding time. I forgot to take pictures, but I just dug down in one corner with the trowel, dumped a bunch of peels and vegetable scraps in, and buried it. They can eat about 1 litre of scraps a week a first, going up to about 3 or 4 after they get comfortable and start breeding a lot in a few months.

This whole thing is a bit of a science experiment as well, and I’m definitely planning on throwing some weird stuff in there and seeing if they eat it. Starting with Cel’s hair.

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