Compost bin plan

Here's a plan for a successful home compost bin -- complete with red worms!

They're slippery! They're slithery! They're a farmer's best friend!


They're little red worms with a big mission...recycling! With a bit of help from humans donating food scraps, these red worms eat their way through the leftovers and leave their castings (worm poop) to form rich, soil-like compost! This compost ultimately helps to save the planet by recyling waste products into nutrients to help other plants and lawns to grow better! It's one of the most effective ways everyone can participate in bettering our environment.



To begin composting, procure some sort of big bin like a plastic tub or fish tank with a volume of about 5 to 10 gallons. The container should have a lid with holes to allow the worms to breathe.


Next, tear black and white (not colored) newspaper into 1/2 inch strips. Wet them until most and put the strips into the bin until it is about 3/4 full of paper. Keep the paper "fluffed" up and do not pack it down. Then add approximately 2 to 4 cups of soil. The next step is adding the red worms (call your local worm farm!)


Sometimes referred to as "reds" or "blue-gray thins" composting worms are different from garden variety earthworms. They have been bred specifically for composting and can be obtained from several sources locally and online. (If you're interested contact "Live Nude Worms" by searching for them on the web- I promise they're a clean site!). To determine how many worms you will need for your compost bin, weigh your food scraps each day for about 2 to 3 weeks and figure out a daily average. Double the answer and you will know how many red worms to use. (ex. 25 oz. of food = 50 oz. of worms to eat it)


And, finally, the food scraps! Bury small pieces of fruit and vegetables under the newspaper strips, varying the locations each day. If you like to cook, try to imagine your compost bin as a huge mixing bowl! If you like to experiment, picture a large test tube! No matter which ingredients you choose, the finished product will help your garden thrive.


Ideally, you should try to keep a 20:1 ratio (C/N) of garden refuse (carbon) and kitchen scraps (nitrogen). Be sure to keep the moisture content at a consistent level, too. If it feels dry, use a spray bottle filled with water to dampen. The worms will also consume their "environment," so be sure to add new paper strips as needed. DO NOT use meat, bones, oils or dairy products in your bin.


Some suggestions for carbon (usually "browns" and "yellows"): dry leaves, twigs, sawdust, paper, straw, dry grass, hay, corncobs, cornstalks, vegetable stalks, crushed nutshells, pine needles, and wood ash.


For your nitrogen ingredients (the "greens"): fresh fruit and vegetable scraps, fresh lawn clippings, farm manure (like rye grass), human and pet hair, coffee grounds, and garden weeds.


One more suggestion: keep your bin away from windows and heaters!


Then, after about six weeks, you will begin to see the castings! In another three to four months -- you will have your very own compost -- thanks to your new worms!


Speaking of recipes...after you have harvested your compost, how about a "cuppa" for a favorite tree or shrub? If you have plants that will benefit from a quick dose of nutrients, you may want to try making "compost tea" to feed them. Take a cloth bag and fill it with compost. Submerge the bag in a container of water and steep for about seven days. Use the enriched "tea" on your plants!

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