Worm Bin & Worm Breeding

The first of several planned worm bins is ready for bedding, worms, and slightly-composted food! The worms themselves are (hopefully) growing in trays of bedding made from coconut coir, paper, and rock dust with horse manure as food source.

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A worm breeding tray

A note — Most (nearly all) hay grown in the USA has been sprayed with at least one persistent herbicide so we are very careful not to mix castings from manure with castings from food waste (we poisoned our home tomatoes a few years ago and learned this lesson the hard way).

Persistent pyridine carboxylic acid herbicides and their residue remain active even after the hay is digested and the manure composted in a hot aerobic pile. These four are bad, but we are also concerned about the presence of long-lived non-persistent broadleaf herbicides such as dicamba & 2,4-d. The US Composting Council publishes a series of fact sheets on the topic. Here’s one.

So we have worms breeding in bins in our basement, hopefully happily producing many cocoons hatching multiple baby worms, and with them fully engaged we set up a cinder block bin in the shadiest spot on the garden plot.

Our bin is 4’ x 8’ from outer edge to outer edge, with the air space inside the blocks hopefully stabilizing temperature inside. At a usable ~12 sq ft, we want to start with no less than 15 lbs of worms.

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Cinder block worm bin

Worms are fantastic decomposers but they’re also apparently delicious, so we wanted to make sure we didn’t attract birds, raccoons, possum, etc, and topped the bin with a lid.

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And with the lid

Eager to use our new trommel, we took the time to screen a previous worm bin, using a 1/2” and 1/4” screen in sequence.

Adult worms that didn’t fit through the 1/4” mesh, along with the larger items from their environment

Adult worms that didn’t fit through the 1/4” mesh, along with the larger items from their environment

I can’t rush the worm breeding, but it’s hard not to check their progress twice a day. They’re such nifty animals!