This. Is my favorite book. There are many reasons why, but suffice to say, it’s an innovative approach to sustainable living in extreme urban environments. It’s one of the first books on sustainable living and urban homesteading that I ever read, and after reading dozens of others, it remains the champion. I strongly recommend it, and it is often available through library loan, though I encourage you to purchase it as a manual for the home. It’s available on Kindle!
This project that I’m about to introduce to you actually comes from this book. It is a worm bin for redworms, which make compost. Previously, I was hungry for the space that I needed to have such a large indoor composter. Our family requires one this size because there are three of us, and since we’re vegan, we have a lot of plant based kitchen scraps. If you are not plant based, you might find yourself with fewer scraps to put in a compost, since compost cannot have animal products. If you have outdoor space, you might find an outdoor compost a better option. We have limited outdoor space, and we do not have a considerate place to put our compost, so this was the best option for us.
If you are experimenting with minimalism, you might have a few spare totes kicking around. Simply take two of them with their lids for this project. You’ll also need some newspaper or brown paper, a handful of kitchen scraps, a drill with a 1/4in and 1/16in bit, a bit of soil, a bit of water, and something to prop your bin up.
And worms. Don’t forget the worms. Have this project ready before you get your worms because when the worms arrive, they’ll need tlc and immediate care. I ordered my worms from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm. The product has excellent reviews and I was very pleased with it. The book recommends that you get 1000 redworms for this project, which are on sale right now!
This project is also messy. You’ll also want heavily tinted or solid bins because worms hate light and get hot easily. These bins aren’t for outside- worms get too hot and they get too cold. Stick this in your house or your basement.
Begin by drilling 20 holes each in the bottom of each bin using your 1/4in bit. Let the drill do the work- if you push the drill too hard, you’ll crack the plastic.
Then, using the 1/16in drill bit, drill as many holes as you see fit along the bottom edge and top edge of each bin, and in ONE of the lids (not the other). These are oxygen holes, so go wild.
One bin is for your worms. The other bin is for when you want to collect your compost, so you can now nest the two bins.
Inside one bin (since it’s inside the other), put about 4in of moist shredded newspaper and brown paper. If you have a heavy hand, use a squirt bottle. It should be damp but not wet. If there’s dripping water anywhere, ITS TOO WET. Worms don’t swim. And dead worms die too.
Now that you’ve got your paper in, add a handful of veg/fruit scraps and bury it in one corner.
Place your lid with holes on.
Place your bin over the lid with no holes. Prop the bin up over it using bricks- I used plant pot feet that you can get at the lawn and garden store. This is a drip pan in case your compost oozes (ew).
Feed your worms as often as food disappears (it should be about a handful a week until they start breeding). Don’t put too much food because it will rot waiting for them to eat it.
When the worms arrive, dig them a bit in your paper and dump them in. Then cover them up and place the lid back. Worms don’t like light, so you can leave the light on for a day if you want them to bury in good and get comfy.
If you notice worms escaping, they’re either too wet or hungry.
When it is time to collect your compost (3-4mos), simply fill the outside (second) bin with 4in of moist shredded papers and a handful of food and place it OVER (inside) the bin where your worms are. When they run out of food in their existing bin, they will crawl through the bottom holes of the new bin to get to the new food. Then, the first (outside) bin can be removed and emptied, and placed back underneath (outside) the new bin.
For more on troubleshooting your worm bin, check out this book, happy composting!