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Faith In Action: Worm Bin, Session 2: Awesome Love

In "Love Will Guide Us," a Tapestry of Faith program

Materials for Activity

  • Two 8- to 10-gallon, opaque plastic storage bins with lids
  • A manual (or electric) drill with 1/4- and 1/16-bits, and safety goggles
  • Newspaper
  • A small bucket filled with dry dirt
  • Red worms, 1 lb. for each set of bins
  • Water source (either a faucet or pitcher)
  • Cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Bricks, or lengths of 1x1-inch wood

Preparation for Activity

  • Determine how many worm bins you will make. One for the congregation? Will families take them home?
  • Purchase worms in advance. Calculate how many worms you need. A red worm can consume about half its weight each day. For example, if your food waste averages 1/2 lb. per day, you will need 1 lb. of worms.
    • Find a local red worm "farm" or other source, or order worms online. The price of $25-$40 per pound may be negotiable if you purchase a large quantity.
    • Timing is essential: The worms can live only a few days in a shipping container.
  • Find out if anyone in the congregation composts with worms. They may be willing to "harvest" worms for your bin!
  • Arrange for someone who knows about worm bin composting to help with this activity.

Description of Activity

Composting with red worms is great for apartment dwellers or people who lack the space for a large compost. These bins are not smelly at all (they do have a smell, but it should be "earthy," not rotten) and can easily be kept under a sink. The worm "castings" make the best soil amendment available.

This project is captivating not only for children, but also for adults. The idea that these little red worms can consume as much as they do is astounding. You may hear the word "awesome" often!

Step 1: Drill about 20, evenly spaced 1/4-inch holes in the bottoms of both bins. These holes provide drainage and allow the worms to crawl into the second bin when you are ready to harvest the castings.

Step 2: Using the 1/16 inch bit, drill ventilation holes 1 to 1 1/2 inches apart near the top of each bin, all the way around. Set one of the bins, and one of the lids, aside.

Step 3: Drill about 30 holes in one of the bin lids. (Place the lid firmly on the bin to drill.)

Step 4: Prepare bedding for the worms by shredding newspaper into 1-inch strips. Worms need bedding that is moist but not soggy. Moisten the newspaper by soaking it in water. Squeeze out the excess. Cover the bottom of one bin with 3-4 inches of moist newspaper and fluff it up. Old leaves or leaf litter can be added also. Throw in a handful of dirt for "grit" to help the worms digest their food.

Step 5: Add your worms to the bedding.

Step 6: Cut a piece of cardboard to fit over the bedding. Wet the cardboard and lay it on top of the bedding. Worms love cardboard and it will break down in a few months.

Step 7: Set the lid without holes, upside down, in the spot where you want your compost. Choose a well-ventilated area such as a laundry room, garage, or under the kitchen sink. The upside-down lid will catch runoff—"worm tea"—which is a great liquid fertilizer.

Step 8: Place bricks or short lengths of wood on the upside-down lid. Then set the bin with worms on the bricks.

Step 9: Feed your worms slowly at first. As the worms multiply, begin to add more food. Gently bury the food in a different section of the bin each week, under the cardboard. The worms will follow the scraps around the bin. Burying the food scraps will help keep fruit flies away. Be sure to keep the lid (with holes) on your bin to keep flies away and to keep worms from escaping.

Step 10: When the first bin is full and there are no recognizable food scraps (this is important), place new bedding material in the second bin and place the bin directly on the compost surface of the first bin. In one or two months (patience is required) most of the worms will have moved to the second bin in search of food. Now the first bin will contain (almost) worm free "vermicompost." You can gently lift out any worms that remain and place them in the new bin, or include them in the garden with your compost.

Feeding Your Worms: What do worms like to eat? Feed your worms a vegan diet. Most things that would normally go down the garbage disposal can go into your worm bin. You will notice the worms will eat some foods faster than others. Worms have preferences just like us.

Worms LOVE

Worms HATE

breads and grains

dairy products

cereal

fats

fruits

meat

tea bags

feces

vegetables

oils

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

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