A worm factory is another term for composting bin. A worm factory can be made at home or purchased from a store. Homemade worm factories may not be as sophisticated as store bought work factories, but if you’re short on cash and you are working on a small scale composting project, a homemade worm factory will work just fine. To create the perfect worm factory you will need the following materials:
- Raw fruits and vegetables
- A shallow container (24″ X 18″ X 8″ should work) with a lid
- Moist Leaves
- Worms, preferably red worms such as Eisenia foetida or Lumbricus rubellus
Red worms can be purchased from a number of online retailers or at most plant and/or pet stores. You can use either a wooden bin or plastic bin. If you have a wooden bin, line the bottom of it with sturdy plastic such as a heavy trash bag or shower curtain. Make sure you have a nice pile of moist leaves from your backyard or other grassy area. Mix the organic materials (leaves, fruits, and vegetables) together, then add the worms. It will take roughly 3-5 months for the worms to eat through the materials. At this time, you will notice very little materials and a hefty amount of compost. Once this happens, it’s time to harvest.
During the harvesting period, do not add any food to the worm factory for two weeks. When two weeks has passed, simply move all of the contents of the worm factory to one side of the bin and remove any large pieces of undecomposed materials. Add fresh materials – leaves, fruits and vegetables, to the empty side of the bin. Over the next two weeks or so, the worms will begin to move to the side where the new materials are located, leaving their compost behind. All that is needed at this point is to remove the old compost and replace it with fresh materials. Cover the new side of the worm factory to encourage the worms to migrate to the new side.
When you are ready to use your fresh worm compost, you can use several methods of extraction, but one method in particular seems to be the most effective. Dump the entire contents of the bin onto a large sheet of plastic and make several piles. Once exposed to the light, the worms will quickly bury themselves in the bottom of the compost within 2-3 minutes. After a few minutes, remove the top layer of compost, leaving the worms on the bottom. Once you have removed all of the worm compost, simply collect the worms and return them to the worm factory.
Worm composting material is ready to use immediately or if you choose, you can store it for later use. Worm compost can be added directly into your potting soil or mixed in with your garden soil as a soil amendment. If you notice a worm or two in the compost, don’t be alarmed. This is fairly common. Worm compost use is not limited to outdoor gardening. Contrary to popular belief, worm compost does not have an offensive odor, so you can also use worm compost in the tops of your indoor plants.
If you would like to purchase a high tech worm factory from a retail store, you can purchase them from places like Home Depot, Target, Wal-Mart, and any outdoor plant or garden center. These types of worm factories may have automatic separators, electronic timers, and more. You can also purchase your worm factory online through a number of different online retailers. Simply enter “worm factory” into your favorite search engine to receive hundreds of results. Happy composting!
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