Once you've decided to raise composting worms, the container to keep them in is the next issue. Worms need good drainage, a little fresh air, and whether you are keeping them inside or out, they need containment. The worms used for composting are not native in all areas, and if they get out in the wild they can disrupt local worm populations, so it is best not to let the little guys roam free.

There are two basic choices, homemade or premade. A homemade box is cheap, but it can be harder to maintain and harvest dirt from. A commercially produced box looks good and is easy to use, but is also remarkably spendy. The more time and effort put into the construction of a homemade bin, the more it will mimic the ease of use of the commercial bin.

While the simplest homemade boxes generally have one large area for the worms and compost, commercial bins have several layers, allowing the worms to move up and down. You can change the order of the layers, making worms travel through the compost material several times, processing it as they go, and creating much better soil (or so the marketing people tell me). Removing finished dirt is also much easier, as you can convince the worms to migrate to another layer, leaving the worms in your bin while the dirt goes in your garden. In single-layer bins, you can encourage the worms to migrate to one end of the box instead. (Note, because red wrigglers are not native in all areas, all dirt should be spread in the sun to dry and kill any worms or worm eggs before use.)

There are many plans for multi-layer worm bins available online. They are not hard to make, and as long as they provide containment, drainage and ventilation, the worms will be happy.

However, I knew that my bin would not be in a private yard or shed - it would either be in my kitchen or in the basement or patio that we share with our house's other occupants. I already subject people who share my living space to curing meat and fermenting pickles, I think a scrappy rubbermaid tub full of worms might cross some sort of line. When it comes to worms, appearances matter - worms in a fancy box look cleaner and more contained. So, I went with the commercial box, and I am glad I did. It looks at home in my kitchen, keeps everything tidy, and so far seems to suit the worms needs as well as mine.

Leave a comment

This blog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.