Kermit used to sing, “It’s Not Easy Being Green.” Well, I’m here to tell you….
Kermit was dead wrong.
It *is* easy being green. All it takes is a single trip to your friendly store and a little ingenuity. A couple of months ago, B approached me wanting to build a compost bin in our kitchen. Right away I thought it was a great idea.
That is, until he mentioned the worms.
B wanted to build a worm composting bin out of easy-to-find materials. I was dubious at first. Worms? In my kitchen? But then B told me all the reasons he thought this was a good idea:
1) One pound of worms can eat five pounds of trash. Per week.
2) The worms turn that trash into super rich soil that I can use in my planters, rose garden, etc.
3) The compost bin is self-contained, meaning the worms go in and never come out.
4) There is no smell. I repeat – there is NO. SMELL.
Since B is always super diligent in his research, I decided to go along with it. I had no idea that creating the worm composting bin would be so much FUN!
Here’s what we did:
STEP 1: PURCHASE MATERIALS
To build the composting unit, we needed:
1 large plastic tub
2 styrofoam blocks
1 aluminum baking tray
120 live (duh) red worms from the bait/tackle section (just under a pound of worms)
STEP 2: PREPARE BIN
To prep for composting, B drilled several holes into the bottom of the plastic tub for drainage. He then set the aluminum tray in the bottom of the cabinet, with the styrofoam blocks on either side of the tray. The blocks hold the tub off the bottom of the cabinet and the tray catches the “tea” made by the compost bin. (No smell. I’m serious.)
STEP 3: FILL BIN
The kids had a blast with this part. We tore newspaper into strips (after reading the comics, of course) and placed them in the bottom of the bin. We then added a couple cups of water so that the newspaper was good and saturated.
Next we gave the kids some pails and shovels and had them go outside and dig up some dirt. Nothing fancy – no special soil or anything from a bag – just good ol’ dirt.
STEP 4: ADD WORMS
At this point, the kids were beyond excited. They knew that we’d be introducing the worms to their new home in a few short moments. We had to take a break because this kind of occasion calls for tiaras and princess dresses. Naturally.
Important Note: We started with just under a pound of worms because those sucks breed like crazy! The worm population in a composting bin will double every few months. If you are considering starting a bin, be sure to keep this in mind. Don’t start with 3 pounds of worms unless you want double, triple, or quadruple that by harvesting time.
STEP 5: WAIT A FEW DAYS THEN COMPOST AWAY!
The worms need a little time to get acclimated. We waited 4 or 5 days, then started small by throwing one or two banana peels and a grapefruit rind in. It’s important not to overwhelm the worms with too much food (keep the 5lb trash/ 1lb worms rule of thumb) but in general you can follow these rules, taken from www.redwormcomposting.com:
- Vegetable & fruit waste (citrus fruit should be added in moderation when using smaller bins)
- Starchy materials – bread, pasta, rice, potatoes – all in moderation (beginners may want to avoid these altogether initially)
- Shredded newspaper, used paper towels (common sense applies here), cardboard (great idea to add these carbon rich materials at the same time you add any wet food waste)
- Egg shells (best if ground up and in moderation)
- Coffee grounds
- Tea bags
- Human/pet waste
- Non biodegradable materials
- Harsh chemicals
We won’t harvest our bin for several months but in the meantime, the girls are enjoying checking on the worms to see how much soil they are producing. (And yes, they have figured out that ‘soil’ is really worm poop.) So far it’s been a great lesson in the life cycle, conservation, and do-it-yourself-ing.
And did I mention it doesn’t smell?
Your comments are better than worm poop.
Please leave one below!