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Make an Earthworm Bin

Garbage! Worms love it! All those banana peels, egg shells and pizza crusts that you throw away are mighty tasty to them. Some people invite worms right into their home to eat their old food scraps and it's a great idea! You get rid of your garbage, and they get a daily feast.

Here's how it works. You build a little home called a worm bin by adding comfy bedding, worms, and food scraps to a container. Worms will eat the food scraps and turn them into compost. Compost makes a great, nutrient-rich soil that is perfect for growing plants. 

Step 1: Prepare Yourself for the Task - What the Worms Will Need

Temperature: Choose a place for your worm bin where the temperature ranges from 55 to 77 degrees Farenheit. Temperatures below freezing and above 80 degrees Farenheit can harm your worms. Moisture: While worms love moisture, be sure to keep your bin away from a place where it could flood. Air: Just like humans, worms need air to live. Don't wrap your bin in plastic and be sure to leave air holes.

Step 2: The Bin

Size: Before deciding on your bin size, keep track of your family's food waste. The bin we'll show you how to build should be suitable to handle food waste from a family of four to six people. Material: Here's a list of what you'll need: 2 pieces 5/8" CDX plywood (35-5/8" x 12") *CDX is a special type of treated wood, (ask your parents to get at the lumberyard) 2 pieces 5/8" CDX plywood (23-3/8" x 12") 1 piece 5/8" CDX plywood (24" x 36") 38 2" ardox nails, hammer, drill with 1/2" bit

Step 3: Building it

Nail the sides together with four nails per side. 

Attach the bottom panel by using five to seven nails per side. 

Then get out the drill and make 12 half-inch holes in the bottom. That's so that air can get in and water can get out. 

You'll also have to raise the bin off the floor so that air can circulate up through them. Worms won't crawl out, but some worm poop might leak, so put a plastic sheet underneath. 

Step 4: Making Your Worm House a Home

Next you'll need to make your worms a bed. Worms like shredded cardboard or newspapers and old leaves. Fill your bin to the top with the bedding. The bedding will hold in moisture and make it easy for the worms to crawl around. 

Now, you're ready to add the dirt - but just a couple handfuls. Redworms like garbage more than they like soil. 

Finally, add enough water to make the bedding moist, but not soggy, and mix it all up with a garden fork. And you know what comes next...

Step 5: THE WORMS!!

 The amount of worms you put in the bin all depends on how much garbage you'll be adding to it each week. The basic formula is two pounds of worms for every pound of garbage (a 2:1 ratio). It takes about 1,000-1,500 worms to make a pound. 

Step 6: The Garbage

Now you're ready to add your garbage, but make sure it's the right kind of garbage! Worms don't like anything toxic like the chemicals in junk foods, cakes and candy. What's more, they're vegetarians and won't eat meat or bones, so keep that stuff out of your bin. 
What worms really like are old vegetables, fruits and any other organic (naturally made) foods. Here are some examples: Apples, Beans, Banana Peels, Biscuits, Cereal, Cheese, Egg Shells, Lemon Peels, Onion Peels, Pizza Crust, Potatoes, Tea Leaves and Tomatoes. 

Step 7: Maintaining the Bin

Keep an eye on your worms to make sure that they haven't eaten up all their bedding and that their home has enough water to be moist but not soggy. Make sure to clear a spot in the bedding to bury the garbage (use a garden fork). Cover the garbage completely with bedding and keep a loose plastic cover on the bin to keep in the moisture. Eventually, you'll want to change the bedding and take out all that good fertilizer the worms have created from your garbage. You should plan to do this about once every four months.

Step 8: Harvesting the Fertilizer

Warning: Do this outside or in a work room - it could get a little messy. Spread a large plastic sheet on the floor and dump everything in your worm bin onto it. Make about nine piles out of your bedding. Worms will be everywhere and they'll try to dig down into the piles to avoid light. Wait about ten minutes and then start to gently remove the outer edges of each pile. Every time you remove enough bedding to expose the worms, they'll try to dig even deeper into the pile. By repeating this for each pile, you'll end up with nine piles of worms and not much else. Then all you do is put fresh bedding (newspaper, dead leaves) into your bin, dump in the worms and watch 'em munch.