Vermiculture - Whats The Difference Among Worm Bins And Worm Farms

Vermicomposting is the science of using a species of live worm called the red wiggler to decompose food scrap sand other organic waste materials. Because almost everyone (in the United States especially) produces some amount of organic waste, be it small or large, Vermicomposting is thus a fantastic hobby for just about everybody. It is cheap, convenient and effective, a great learning opportunity for kids (and anyone, really), beneficial for reducing environmental pollution and makes a great fertilizer to boot. For those who are interested in taking it up, you have two options for housing your worms: worm bins and worm farms.

How it Works

Most people produce an average of a pound of organic waste per day, between vegetable scraps, tea bags and coffee grounds/filters, egg shells, fruit rinds, and so forth. Red worms will consume up to half their weight in food per day, so in general you'll need about one pound of worms. (I've also heard that worms will eat their own weight in food, but my experience is that it's actually a little less and depends on the food.) As they eat your food waste, they will digest it and output a byproduct known as "worm castings" that is an extremely rich fertilizer. The worms are kept in a lidded plastic enclosure with holes for circulations and drainage, and a bedding of moistened shredded newspapers, dried leaves, and a small amount of dirt.

Worm Bins

Worms bins refer to a setup that uses a single plastic container to house the worms, with some kind of shallow tray or pan underneath to catch drips and dirt particles. This is the most basic setup for worms, and also the most inexpensive - while there are commercial worm bins available you can also easily build your own for under $15 with a plastic bin from Wal-Mart or other store. Worm bins are also great space savers and can be stowed under sinks, in cabinets and closets, laundry rooms, garages, and almost anywhere else.

Worm Farms

A worm farm is a structure composed of a series of bins that are stacked directly on top of each other and allow the worms to travel between each one. Generally there is a minimum of two layers, both with prepared bedding, though the worms will reside in the bottom bin to start. After you feed the worms for several months and fill the bottom bin with castings, you then starting putting food in the upper bin to encourage them to migrate upwards. After a few weeks you can remove the bottom bin, which should be mostly free of worms, harvest the castings and replace the bedding, and use it as the new top layer for your worm farm.

Each of these methods has its pros and cons. Bins are more compact but it is trickier and more time-consuming to harvest the castings; farms support more worms and are easier to harvest from, but cannot be easily concealed if that is your preference. All in all, both are good solutions for Vermicomposting, and each individual must determine which one fits into their lifestyle better.

By: Charles B Michaels