How Choose Worm Bins For Garden Composting
A good worm bin is important for successful vermicomposting. There are a huge variety of bins that can be purchased, and there are many different instructions for building your own worm factory. The versatility of worm composting is part of what makes it fun, but it can become a little overwhelming for newcomers who are trying to find the right system for their situation. Although worm composting bins come in a plethora of shapes and sizes, the good news is there are a few constants that every good worm bin will have.
Living organisms need oxygen. The worms must “breathe” oxygen through their skin, and the decomposing bacteria need oxygen to function. Fresh air is also necessary to keep the contents of the worm bin from smelling foul. Ventilation areas should be above the compost line, either on the side of the bin or in the lid. The slits or holes should be plentiful, but very small. Large holes allow insects to get into the bin and worms to escape.
Have you ever noticed that after a heavy rain, sidewalks and roads will be covered in worms? Any stragglers will become toasted in the sun after the surface dries. Moisture is important for healthy worms: too much and they will drown, too little and they will dry out. A good worm factory will have holes in the bottom of the bin so that when you add water to keep the bedding moist, any excess will drain out the bottom.
Worm chelate is the brown liquid that flows out of the drainage holes. Although the goal of worm composting is to create fine, finished vermicompost, worm chelate can also be used in the garden. When mixed with water and sprinkled on plants, chelate can deliver nutrients and even deter some garden pests. Whether or not you plan on using worm chelate, your system should collect this liquid – especially if you plan on composting indoors. Look for systems that have a collection area that is sealed to the bin rather than a simple dish set below the bin. A seal between the liquid collection and the worm bin helps prevent worms from escaping through the drainage holes and deters fruit flies and other pests that will live in the liquid.
If you’re new to the world of worm composting, it’s a good idea to start small, then consider growing your system over time. While some folks may be content with a small system, others may hope to increase operations in the future. If you plan on buying a worm bin, look for systems that sell additional components to expand on what you’ve already purchased rather than requiring you to buy a whole new bin. Those who want to build also should consider stackable designs.