TLDR: Yes, you do, but not the traditional worm bin they show in YouTube. No. It does not make sesnse to build a temporary house for worms. Worms just need an open top for air exchange, a dark space to prevent light, a small bottom hole for over water discharge and a nice bedding and food. Prevent it from going hot over 80°F, keep the pH level as neutral but not any lower than 5, and a very moist bedding so they can move around easily. Estimated Cost – $30 plus $40 for a pound of worms BUT you get to have endless worms and vermicompost tea!

For novus vermifidelis (articulate vermicomposters), starting an earthworm bin is not difficult. I’ll share how I do it. Grab a breathable grocery bag. Add very wet coconut coir in it (or ripped cardboard and fine dirt/soil), place the bag in a sturdy box for support, add moldy food in a small plastic box with holes, then wait for a long time for the worms to eat all your food. Then give more food once it is almost out. Rest assured, the bedding will all be composted (without aggravating or “mixing the bedding”) because that is what worms and bacteria do – decompose organic materials. Know that is how the natural decomposition in the soil works. How it is shown in YouTube, which is the traditional method is all wrong, in my perspective. My method called “the PSL method of Growing Worms” (named after the founders of tildeWorms) is the natural method of growing worms. It has all the benefits of your intended goal as to why you want to grow worms – to give your plants good growth).

Why soil? Because soil has inert minerals in it which is needed by the bacteria in the worm bin to produce bacterial exudates perfect for your garden. Soil is a natural habitat for worms (and bacteria) so add it. It also adds stability to the bedding, and moisture retention.

[In another article, I will present to you all the scientific reasons as to why the PSL method makes sense. Keep coming back for new information.

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The box

It is any sturdy plastic box that is just a bit larger than the size of a grocery bag to keep your bag standing upright. It has to be plastic so that it will not decompose, and should not be brittle when exposed to the sun. For further advantages, choose a plastic box that you can stack on top of each other for vertical growth. Choose a box that is molded with big holes for air exchange, the worms and bacteria will need air. Choose a size about 12 inches deep because earthworms are epigeic (they do not burrow down far). Also, the deeper and bigger the box the more anaerobic it becomes and will be bad for the worms’ (and bacteria’s – you should know that you are not just taking care of worms in a worm bin) living space.

The breathable bag

Breathable is a requirement. If you fill the bag with water, will it seep out? However, all that worms need is an opening on the top and a few holes on the side, but if the bag is breathable, then it is the optimum air exchange that the bin can have without having to make hole where worms can incidentally escape. A grocery bag fits this requirement. In my experience a polypropylene type grocery bag works. It does not easily tear apart and can handle 5 gallons of wet bedding – the maximum worm habitat you should be growing the earthworms with. If you need more space, then it is time to build another box.

The bedding

The easiest bedding is coconut coir. Its pH is perfect. Granularity is best for worms to dig around. But it is an added expense. Otherwise, to keep it free, you can use ripped long cardboard (not to inch pieces), cardboard ripped to small pieces, soil, or wood chips or leaf litter. All these materials need to be rotten first to prevent going hot (decomposing) because you cannot control the temperature. The long cardboard is used as pillars for the smaller bedding pieces – so that the bedding does not cave in as the worms dig their burrows. Imagine the worms building their hallways to travel in and out around of their living space.

The food

Contrary to popular belief, worms do not eat fresh produce or food, they eat the mold from the food. All food (except some) becomes acidic first prior to becoming moldy. The strategy is to make a decomposing box for fresh food waste mixed with compost (for quick food decomposition) then give the moldy food to the worms instead. This is where I would recommend the bottom-top approach where you gather moldy food from the bottom and throw new food at the top of the bin. You can easily build something like this with using a bin the has a bottom-side door opening. Appl the food in a box with side hole, not bottom holes to prevent seeping of the food juice onto the bedding. Cover the sides and top holes of the food box with the bedding to prevent fruit flies or other insects.

Acidity, climate and a “wet bar”

The acidity of the bedding should be at 6 (for best performance) but it is hard to achieve this with a new bedding. I have a 4 month grow bin and it has been at about 5.6 now starting from about 4. As the bedding decomposes the pH level rises. The food that is given to the worms will lower the pH down if given in huge quantities, upon which you can have worm death. Keep the food quantity where the feed will be consumed in a week.

The temperature of the worm bin should be kept to 70° and should be prevented from reaching 80°F. If it does it will cause sudden death to your worms. Place reflective (or white rag) on top and around of the bin. Dry cardboard has good insulation properties (that’s what homeless people use in the streets) if you can’t afford a reflective insulator. Do not allow the cardboard to get wet, however. Try to get the regular delta temperature of your insulation, if it is 80­°F measure at the outside ambient air, what is the temperature of the worm bin. This gives you an idea of the what would your worm bin temp. would be given a hot weather forecast. But don’t rely too much with it, because the worm bin acts like a heat battery and each day of continuous hot temperature will gradually reduce your delta temp and will soon equalize with the ambient temperature. If the measured internal temp is getting too high, then sprinkle water in your bin – wet but not dripping. There are other ways to lower the temp of a worm bin. Keep coming back to this website for future articles.

The moisture (humidity) of the bedding must be wet but not dripping, or at least not near drying. The moisture of the bedding is needed by the worms to breath for while they are burrowed in, presumably, by some osmotic process happening in the worms skin. They’ve developed this process many thousands of years ago, so they are good at it, but you have to provide it to them, artificially. That is, by wetting the bin periodically, especially when the weather is hot. Additionally, the moisture gives the bacteria a medium to travel around from bedding piece to another – bacteria move much easier on wet matter.

At all means do not allow the bin to be kept with lighting. Worms are very sensitive to light, they dig down for cover, but they still need to reach the top for food. Cover the top of the bin with the excess of the grocery bag top lip.

A discovery I have is that worms like to mingle under wet not-so-heavy materials. You will find lots of worms under a brick square paver. In my opinion, this is an opportunity for worms to have fun and reproduce. To replicate it in, place a wet square cardboard then place you feed box on top of it. The more the worms see each other, the better your worm bin can reproduce more worms.

As you can see we are trying to replicate the natural life and habitat of earthworms. As a vermifidelis, if you want to domesticate worms and expect them to not escape out of your worm bin, give them the habitat they need.

“The days of the YouTube video showing the old (and bad) way of growing worms is over. Use the PSL method – natural, effective and proven.

There is a reason for this PSL method.

1. Easy Liquid Tea Extraction. Water seeps through the bag.

2. The sturdy box can be stacked to a reachable height. Grow worms in a 2 sq. ft. space.

3. Air exchange for aerobic environment. The bedding holder is a breathable bag with small, tiny holes everywhere, and the box has pre-moulded holes in it.

4. Food acidity cannot seep in. Feed is centrally located and contained in a plastic box.

5. Reproduction is faster. Mingling in a wet bar gives all worms a chance to know each other.

6. No worm aggravation (UGGH!). This worm bin is not designed to shake and mix the bedding and worms. Worms hate that. Imagine if an ogre does that to you.

7. No filtering, no tumbling. All we need is the tea, not the compost. (I have an article about “Tea or Compost”, read why.)

8. Extracting the worms is easy. The wet bar cardboard and feed box is actually a “bait space. When the worm bin is fully populated, you are required to under populate the worms to induce reproduction habits – it is a natural step in population. Then you can build a new box using the extracted worms.

9. On the spot application. Place your worm bin in the portion of your garden that you want to revive. Just add water on the worm bin – wet but not flooding – but make it seep thru. ! No – worm bin leachate is not bad! Whoever said that need to have evidence, unless your worm bin pH is very bad.

10. The PSL method has room for automation. tildeWorms is developing an electronic system for monitoring (and possibly) actuating the habitat requirements of a PSL bin. Check this website for this article installment.

tildeWorms has a pledge program for the “PSL worm bin with Red Wiggler worms” selling now. Take action to get a $50 discount if you pledge before the sale time. Act Now. Click “Buy Now” on the top menu. Look for “Live Worms in a Premade Grow Bin”

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