There is a lot of garbage in a household. In fact, most of the things that are thrown away are valuable or nutritious. That is why in Hamburg it is obligatory to install a bio garbage can on every property. However, if you give your organic waste to the city, you miss out on the precious compost that can be made from it. Of course, it is even more annoying if the organic waste ends up in the residual waste and is then incinerated.
So before you throw away your organic waste and then run out again to buy fertilizer for your houseplants and balcony plants, it’s better to compost in your own worm bin instead.
Where can I get a worm composting bin?
Basically, you can build a worm bin yourself with some craft experience and the appropriate tools. You can find well illustrated instructions at Smarticular. There are also numerous video tutorials on Youtube. However, I can recommend to read the comments first, because you will always find new learnings there and thus avoid mistakes.
But there are also ready to buy worm boxes. You can order them completely at Wurmkiste.at or Wurmwelten.de. If you prefer a local supplier from Hamburg, you can buy your worm box at the Raum für Stadtnatur in Altona or at Nutzmüll e.V.
I got the hybrid version for Christmas with the kit for a rolling stool from Wurmkiste.at.
If you don’t dare to build it on your own, you can also build your own worm bin in a workshop at Raum für Stadtnatur.
The worm box does not have so many secrets. It is a simple wooden box, with air holes on the side. In order to prevent the worms from escaping through the holes, a fine net is stretched there. There is also a membrane in the bottom through which excess water can drain into a drawer below, called the worm tea drawer. In order to separate the good compost from the fresh waste, after some time a plastic box is placed in the wooden box, which can be lifted out. On top of the fresh organic waste is placed a hemp mat or newspaper to keep the compost moist and prevent flies from settling.
The do-it-yourself kit was just right for us. The wooden parts were sawed to size and all consumable parts, such as screws, hinges, glue, etc. were included in the set in very sufficient quantity. Only linseed oil for the treatment of the wood we still needed. Written instructions were included, of course, but Wurmkiste.at also created a very easy to understand video tutorial. With this and a cordless screwdriver, the assembly was no problem even for non-artisans.
Wool fabric for the seat cover we still had, so we only needed to cut it.
The only other thing we had to borrow from neighbors because our office equipment failed at this point was a heavy-duty stapler to attach the fabric to the wood. But for DIY emergencies like that, you have the chat group with your neighbors.
After the box was well dried, the worms could move into their new home. We also ordered the compost worms from Wurmkiste.at. Even in the middle of January, they survived the transport unharmed.
The self-assembly kit is a clear recommendation from us, if you do not want to construct a box completely by yourself. It is fun to build the box, it is not too much work and with our supplier we saved 70 euros compared to ordering the finished box.
In the worm bin you can put all the leftover fruit and vegetables that you have in the kitchen. In addition, the worms like to eat a bit of cardboard, tea and coffee grounds and eggshells. You cut the leftovers into small pieces and throw them directly into the box.
At the beginning, the worms eat only a small amount, but over time the worm population increases. About every three months the number of worms in the box doubles. We’ve had our crate for six months now, and our worms are doing well against the organic waste of a family of four.
What most people can’t imagine is that the worm composter doesn’t stink. In fact, I also had to check with neighbors first to be convinced that I also want a worm bin. You can’t smell anything, though. When you open the box it smells slightly earthy, but not unpleasant.
We did have a small problem with fruit flies during the summer months. In the hot months, when fruit flies develop from time to time even in normal household garbage, we now no longer put fruit scraps in the worm box, since then we have no more problems with it.
Apart from that, the worms are very easy-care pets. Besides feeding, they get some mineral mixture sprinkled in the box from time to time – but that’s it. We have never had a worm break out of the crate either.
During the summer vacations our worms had to stay at home alone for four weeks. But that also worked out well. Before we left, we put some more food in the box and then our neighbors, who also watered the flowers, gave the worms something to eat again after three weeks. They looked a little thinner, but now they are being brought back up.
The worm tea drawer at the bottom of the box must be emptied every few weeks. I always apply this liquid fertilizer immediately on the balcony. Especially with boxes on wheels, the worm tea drawer must not become too full, because otherwise it will spill over when you move the box somewhere else. But it is not so bad if this happens, because the worm tea is also odorless.
The worm humus can be harvested for the first time after half a year. Then you take out the plastic box with the fresh organic waste and you can harvest the finished compost underneath.
According to theory, all the worms should be at the top of the box with the good food. When we tried to harvest shortly after the vacation, we still had many worms at the bottom of the box. Then we fed well again and added raw polenta to the top of the box. This then attracted the worms to the top and we were able to harvest the worm humus.
After six months we are very satisfied with our worm bin. It’s really no trouble at all and some of our waste doesn’t have to be transported away and processed.
The children have learned something about natural cycles again and also like to feed the worms. The worms don’t really pass as pets, but at least as a stool the worm bin is very popular because the seat is so comfortable.
In addition, we are of course curious to see how our homegrown compost affects the balcony vegetation. Our neighbor, who is already fertilizing with her worm humus, is expecting a record tomato harvest this year – we’re excited!
Feel free to comment here if you have any questions about worms and their box!