One of the major costs when delving into the fun filled hobby or profession of organic gardening is the cost of maintaining the proper levels of nutrients in your soil each year that you grow your food. Healthy organic vegetables are a mainstay with many people and those obsessed with good health will often start their very own organic garden. One of the best ways to maintain sizable crops that are full of robust and healthy food is to make sure that you add nutrient filled compost on a regular basis. By purchasing a worm bin and raising worms which will in turn create compost for your garden is one of the most economical and smart ways of creating one of the best gardening experiences of your life. Here are a few tips on how to make sure that you can provide the best organic compost for your garden using worms and worm bins.
The first thing that you are going to need if you are going to begin to in essence to grow your own organic compost is to find an affordable worm bin. Worm bins can range from about $50-$150. You could use old wine barrels (not made from oak due to their acidic nature) or a more modern choice would be the plastic containers that have lids that come in different shapes and sizes. One thing you should consider is making sure that your worm bin is not too tall. Often times you will see pictures of them and assume that taller and larger is better whereas in reality unless you are going for worm cocoons which are often laid on the top level of the soil and compost with in the bin, you would be better off to get a short one, more like a bucket that holds five to 10 gallons, which will consolidate the worm's efforts for creating compost and through consistent rotation generate far more compost than large worm bins ever will (think surface area not volume).
Just like an organic garden that you are growing, where drainage is a necessity for the excess water in your soil after watering, worm bins also need to have drainage holes at the bottom and also several holes that will allow air into the bedding within the bin. Depending upon the type of material that your worm bin is made of, you could probably take a power drill and bore five to 10 holes about a quarter inch in diameter around the perimeter near the top and also, if there is a lid, holes in that is well. By having proper aeration for your worms, as well as proper drainage, it will create a habitat that is conducive for optimal worm breeding as well as compost creation.
Remembering that the worms are the producers and generators of the compost that you need for your organic garden, you should know a few things about worms to make sure that they stay healthy and happy in their compost producing environment. Worms of course are made of about 80% water and if you let the soil within the container get to dry, they will actually begin to excrete water from their bodies in order to maintain the proper moisture balance. This of course will cause damage to the worms and they will inevitably die. Therefore, in order to make sure that their habitat stays in balance, there are a few things that you should add to the soil such as biodegradable bedding.
Biodegradable bedding can be things like dry grass, cardboard, peat moss, or even horse manure that has been heated to over 140° to make sure that any bad bacteria was killed off. Using these types of bedding which have anywhere from a mildly acidic to a mildly basic p.h., help regulate moisture content within the bin and almost act like a sponge maintaining a moisture level that is adequate for the worms on a consistent basis.
Once you have the proper amount of moisture, it is time to feed your worms. Taking into account that worms are typically photo phobic to almost all kinds of visible light, make sure that some of the food scraps that you place in the bin for the worms are somewhat buried which will act as a beacon for them to crawl up and begin to eat their food. With the addition of the lid over the composting mixture, the worms will come to the top and begin feeding in a frenzy which is exactly what you want because the more they eat, and more compost they will produce. Worms love to eat most any vegetable scraps. You can also feed them bread, most grains, but always avoid dairy products and fatty foods which will actually cause the typically fragrant odor found in most worm bins into a rancid smell that you will regret later.
The end result will be a composting mixture that is rich in many necessary nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and of many other trace minerals that create one of the best organic fertilizers on the planet. By adding worm bins to your repertoire of organic gardening necessities, you will create for yourself not only an extremely productive organic garden but a vermiculture factory that will provide you with the best compost you could ever add to your garden's soil.