1. Buy 2-10 gallon sturdy plastic bins with 2 lids
2. Select one of the two bins and drill holes in bottom of container.
3. Place the drilled bin on top of the other bin and place lid on top. Drill 4-6 1 inch holes between the lid and bottom bin to create air holes. Hot-glue screening over the holes in the inside of the bin. (This prevents worms escaping the bin).
4. Place the top bin, that has the holes, on top of the bottom bin. Place lid on top. The second lid may be used under the entire unit to protect the surface where you keep the bin.
Eisenia fetida (common name: red wiggler)
It's important that you do your research and buy the right kind of compost worms. Compost worms are different than night crawlers and other bait worms. Some local bait shops carry compost worms but they are often more expensive than reputable online worm farms. Check out these resources for the correct worms to buy:
Materials and Supplies for Composting: North Carolina State Extension Publications
Uncle Jim's Worm Farm: I've had good luck with this company. I order 1000 worms per bin.
Bedding: 1 Coir Brick (1.4 pounds) Coir is compacted coconut fiber. Easy, economical and PH neutral bedding option.
Buy this at a garden store or online. Locally, the Bruce Company has the best price at $3.00 per brick.
1. Half cup sand. Use any clean sand. Recommend buying a small bag to insure that no chemicals, salts or pesticides have been added. This is black sand but any bagged sand works. Sand adds needed grit to a new worm bin. Add it to the newly expanded coir fiber bedding and mix around before you add the worms.
2. Crushed Egg Shells: Crush 4-6 eggs shells in a plastic ziploc bag using a rolling pin or large tin can. Egg shells add needed calcium to the bedding. Add it to the expanded coir bedding and mix around before you add the worms. Egg shells can continually be added as food but it works better if you crush the shells before adding.
Follow these steps to set up the bedding material for the new worms:
1. Using the bottom bin that has no holes drilled, place the unwrapped coir brick in the center of that bin. Fill a clean milk gallon container with warm-hot tap water. Pour the hot water over the dry brick. It will begin expanding fairly soon.
2. The dry brick will continue to expand as it soaks in water. The entire brick should be completely expanded in about 15 minutes. You can use your hands to mix the water and coconut fiber together.
3. Place the bin with the holes on top of one of the plastic tub lids. Transfer the expanded coir bin material to the bin with the holes. Once all materials has been transferred, place the bin with holes and bedding on top of the bin with no holes. Let it sit for at least 3 hours so that excess water from the top bin has time to drain to the bottom bin.
4. Check the bottom bin for excess water. Throw away excess water from bottom bin. Replace top bin over the bottom bin. The bedding material should be moist but not soaked. Optional: add a few shovels of garden compost if you have it. You could also add some bagged compost to the bedding. Mix well.
5. Add sand and crushed egg shells to bedding and mix.
6. Create a trench in one side of the bedding. Add worms in trench. Sprinkle half cup of tepid water on top of worms and cover with bedding.
7. On opposite side of the worms, create a trench in bedding and add food. Cover food with bedding. (Use old produce, coffee grounds, tea leaves, crushed egg shells etc) Never add any kind of fats or oils, meat, bones, anything with salt or spices or any kind of dairy. I also avoid adding strong onions and garlic, citrus peels, avocado peels or pits, and fresh pineapple. Chop up large items such as woody stalks of asparagus or green beans and melon rinds.
8. Close lid tightly. If worms have traveled from a distance in the mail (yes, you can order live worms through the USPO) the worms may be very feisty and may try to leave the bin. Place a light overhead (worms hate light) and/or place near a window. It also doesn't hurt to place something heavy on top of the lid. Worms will settle into their new environment within a few days. Make sure to keep your worms happy with plenty of food and a moist environment.
9. Worms typically can be fed 2-3 times a week. Check bin often at first to make sure worms are getting enough food and the bedding is moist. Add tepid water as needed.
10. Some people add a layer of black plastic or crushed leaves between the bedding and top lid to keep the bin hydrated.