Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Building a Tidy Cat Worm Propagation Bin

Earthworms need homes, too. And they don't ask for much in the way of housing. This simple worm propagation bin, ideal for those who raise just a few worms for composting or fishing, is almost too easy to make.

This is a cat litter pail, bought from Walmart with 35 lbs of cat litter inside. When it was empty, it became my new worm bin. This is a nice size, but I also have a somewhat smaller bin, also made from a cat litter pail, that works as well.

The first step is to drill in some air holes. In my first attempt at a cat litter pail worm bin, I drilled all the holes in the top. Not a good idea. You see, with the holes at the top, you can't stack the bins. So in this model, I drilled the air holes at the top of the pail, using a small drill bit.

Drain holes must also be drilled in the bottom of the bin. This is in case one gets too enthusiastic about wetting the worm bedding. Worms cannot live in over-wet bins, so drain holes are needed.

Bedding for worms is also their food source. One type of bedding is shredded/torn paper. Paper bedding must be soaked in water for 24 hours, then as much water wrung from it as possible. Then you fluff it out.

My paper bedding includes a lot of paper my mother shredded with her paper shredder (crosscut). It also includes hand-torn newspaper torn into about 1 inch squares.

Well composted manure is also a good worm bedding. I have loads of manure, just not so much well-composted. The composted manure must be moist. In this worm bin, I alternated layers of composted manure and damp shredded/torn paper.

Peat moss is also used in worm bedding. Commercial vermiculturalists often use 50% peat moss and 50% composted manure. Like paper, peat moss must be soaked in water for 24 hours and wrung out for use in a worm bin.

Worms for the worm bin may be obtained from a local worm farm, a bait shop, or purchased in bulk on eBay. Rule of thumb is you want about 1 lb of worms for every square foot of worm bin. Using less, it will take longer for your worms to propagate to desired levels. The type of worm you want is the red worm, or red wiggler, the common type of worm used for fishing, composting, and many other purposes.

To learn more about worm care, I recommend the book Raising Earthworms for Profit by Earl B. Shields.  I believe it is the most complete book on the subject.

Profitable Earthworm Farming by Charlie Morgan is also a fine worm manual, and it also includes a short chapter on raising mealworms.

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