Part 3: Composting & Worm Bins
Post /Step 3: Feeding & Watering your garden
Now that you have all those plants, how will you feed and water them?
Plants need three things: sun, water, and nutrients
We have already covered sunlight when discussing where to create your garden spaces in part 1. We also discussed the soil needed to start your garden. If you remember, part of the soil mixture I suggested was a
13-13-13, which is a natural fertilizer, and compost. You will need to purchase both to start with, but what about in the future? Let us dig a little deeper into this composting subject.
Now is the time to start composting! Composting is a great economical way to create nutrient-rich soil that will feed your plants throughout the year. The best thing about it is it can be completely free and only takes a little elbow grease!
Everything you need to know about composting is in my Composting 101 Blog! Composting 101: Read More Here
Add a Worm Bin!
Now that you have the basics of composting down, it's time to add the garden gold! We're talking about worm castings or "black gold " because it is worth its weight in gold for the gardener. What are worm castings?
Well, it's good ole worm poop! Earthworms in your soil signify that your soil is healthy. They produce organic matter and desirable microorganisms that will naturally fertilize your garden. These castings also contain some essential plant nutrients. The Ohio State University Soil Ecology Laboratory found that worm castings enhanced seed germination and plant growth for flowers and fruit production. They also seem to stop plant diseases around the root and crowns of plants. Worm casting also deters insect pests, including mites and aphids. Sounds good, right? So, where can you get worm castings?
You can buy worm castings at the store, but it is more cost-efficient to create a worm bin where you can collect your own worm castings. You probably already have most of the things you need already!
List of materials:
- A solid plastic storage tub with lid- you DO NOT want what it to be see-through
- Soil mixture (with no lime or fertilizer)
- Food and composting scraps
- Composting Worms.
- A drill or wine opener
- Watering Can
Take your opaque tub and wash it out with a small amount of dish soap. Whether you are using a new or used tub, you will want to do this. Drill several holes in the bottom of the container. You can do this with a drill or a wine bottle opener; be careful. Use the top of your container as a tray underneath the tub to catch any excess water that may drain from your worm bin. I picked a deep-lipped top, so there would be plenty of space.
Fill your bin halfway full with an even mixture of peat moss, black cow, compost, and garden soil, no fertilizer or lime. Now all you need are composting worms and food scraps! With a simple metal spoon, dig a hole in the middle of your bin, place your worms gently in and cover them up. They will soon be exploring and digging their way through the soil. Choose one side of your bin to dig another hole, place a small number of kitchen scraps in, and cover them up. Then a couple of days later, do the same thing on the other side. Scraps can be a banana peel, cut-off ends of veggies, or the left pieces off your kid's plate. You do not want to put meat, egg, or milk in your worm bin. Treat them as vegetarians, and you can't go wrong. The cooked scraps will break down faster, giving your worm's food while they wait on the raw scraps to break down. You don't want to overfeed your worms to the point they don't have time to break down the scraps. You will end up with a stinky mess. You also don't want to forget about them; you can starve them. Water is also essential!
You will need to keep the soil moist. Do this by using a watering can with a cap at the end that has small holes intended to break the water stream up into droplets. This rain-like watering will give the soil an even soak without disturbing the soil. Now you see why you need the lid underneath your bin.
Where do you need to place your worm bin? You want to put your container in a shaded area of your home, where it will not get too cold or warm. It should never smell if you are doing it right, so don't worry about that. I suggest putting it somewhere for easy access and weekly checkups. Over time you will see your soil change texture. It will look similar to used coffee grounds. After about six months, you should be able to harvest your worm castings. We gather ours from six months to up to a year. I love to use mine in my seedling mix and place it around some plants that need a nutrient boost.
Here is a little clip about my inside worm bin:
Happy composting! - Kara