Odyssey of Life, Part II: The Unknown World
Making a Worm Bin
A worm bin is an indoor composting system that hosts a community of
small organisms that together decompose organic matter. The largest animal in
the bin is a small, two-inch long worm called the red wiggler (Eisenia
foetida), which can be found at places that supply worms for landscape
gardening. Earthworms cannot be used.
Use a screwdriver to poke two dozen airholes into the sides of an inexpensive
foam cooler (don't poke holes in the bottom part). Fill the cooler half full
with damp (not soaking wet) shreds of newspaper, corrugated cardboard, and/or
dead brown leaves.
Add two handfuls of red wiggler worms (about half a pound) and a handful of
soil from outside. Feed the worms small amounts of fresh fruit and vegetable
scraps—about one handful per week. If the food is all gone at the end of the
week, add a bit more the next time you feed. Don't overfeed them or feed them
meat or dairy products. Don't give them liquids (if the soil dries out, you can
spritz a bit of water on it).
Over the next few months the worm bin community will eat the food scraps and
their paper bedding and then excrete vermicular compost. A healthy bin will
contain a mix of damp paper bedding, organisms, food, and soil and will be dark
in color with a clean, earthy smell. It will take several months for the
organisms to begin to dramatically change the organic material into soil.