Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I'm ready for the worms!

12 years ago I wrote a newspaper article about raising worms as part of my Master Gardener certification. I had the privilege of interviewing a local expert on worm composting who taught me that the proper term is vermicomposting. Visiting her at her house I discovered that she had many "worm composting pits" in her back yard. What surprised me the most however, was that she also had a can-o-wormsin her kitchen! Ever since, I have wanted to buy my own can-o-worms. The Can-O-Wormsis basically a multi-tray composting system raised up on legs with a tap on the front to drain excess water as "worm tea".

Since this popular unit costs over a hundred dollars, I was never able to get one.

Last year, I finally decided to try my hand at vermicomposting in a makeshift plastic bin. It was fun and worked for a little while. My bin didn't provide adequate air for them and since it was sitting on the basement floor, ants invaded the bin. I made all sorts of mistakes and the worm farm failed.

This year, my wife said that she would like to try again if we could find a cheaper alternative to the Can-o-Worms.

I had my eye on this unit:

The 4 Tray Green Gusanito Wormswrangler Worm Farm Bin. It was available for $68.95 - much less than the can-o-worms.

Meanwhile, my wife found the Worm Composting System from Gardens Alive which also had four trays and a spout. It was $99 but they offer an online $20 off coupon. That got it close to the Gusanito system price. Since we already love and trust Gardens Alive, that's the one we bought. Besides, I had some other organic products to order from them. I don't think I could keep my garden organic without Gardens Alive's great products. By the way, if you are interested in the $20 coupon, you can get it here: $20 Off Any $40 Purchase

Sorry, I'm getting off topic a little here. That was the introduction to my post!
Here's the real post:

Our new Worm Factory has arrived and the worms will be here any day! It only took three days to get here after we ordered it. We quickly opened it up and spread out the pieces.

Our cats were very curious about it. Remember Our cats Macy and Maggie? They show up in our pictures from time to time. Hey cats, get off the table!

We began putting the worm bin together. I had to screw on the legs and attach the tea spigot.

Then came time to test the spigot.

It works! Although next time we use it, the water won't be that clear! All done except for the residents of the worm factory. It also came with paper bedding and a block of coir to add to the bedding. We have to start with only one tray and stack new ones up as the worms and their bedding/compost fill up the first tray.

To keep the basement ants from attacking again, and to prevent neglect, we will be putting this attractive new vermicomposter right next to our table and hutch in the kitchen dining room.

Weird, huh? We are excited. Does this seem strange to you, or are you a vermicomposter too? It will provide wonderful compost as well as conversation when visitors are here!

Anything to keep us thinking of Spring!



They did really look good...absolutely something I could have in the kitchen. Very interesting..


I want one of those too. I just not willing to spend the money on it yet.Maybe next year.


That is so incredibly cool. I will have to check back with you to see if it works or if it smells up the house. We live in an apartment so obviously we can't have an outdoor compost. I am not worried about giving away the compost. I am sure someone will take it.

What is worm tea? What do you do with it?

Chiot's Run

I'm so excited for you. I've been wanting one of these as well. I'll have to add that to my gardens dreams list (it's getting rather long though).


I'm highly motivated in that direction myself, especially since my neighborhood requires enclosed commercial composting outside only and that doesn't work well here.

But I've also delayed due to potential outlay on something I've never seen.

I really look forward to seeing how you go about it and what it is like so I can jump on that bandwagon!

Marc and Renee

Daphne, Chiot's Run and ChristyABC - I understand not wanting to spend the money on a worm bin. I have been that way for many years. I guess we went ahead with it because last year we wasted money on buying (and subsequently killing) worms. We didn't have a good home for them but it was enough to see the value of raising worms.

Billie - "Worm Tea" is what they call the liquid that is drained out of the working worm bin. After the worms have been in there a while, the water will look more like tea. It is a good liquid fertilizer for house plants or seedlings. The bin should not smell or attract gnats unless we put too many kitchen scraps in for the worms to eat fast enough.

I will write a more descriptive post about how to raise worms inside next week after the worms are in and the unit is working.

- Marc


I've been wanting a worm bin for a long time...this is just the push I need! I'm going to go buy one now! Can't hardly wait!


We've had a bin for almost a year. Mine is a mint green plastic tub with holes drilled in the bottom for drainage and ventilation holes drilled along th top of the bin and in the top. This bin lives in our laundry room, which opens into the kitchen - makes it easy to throw in scraps, etc. I do not have much tea; however lots of vermi compost for my plants and garden. It was fun to discover my first worm eggs - my daughter says they look like little dragon eggs!


I started my bins in small plastic shoebox size containers and have graduated to a wigwam- all in my small basement. I can't wait to check back and see how this system works for you...

Wayne Stratz

I want to do this at home and work too. I just got a Garden's Alive catalog. I'll take a look.


I have a similar worm system, and I only use the water proof tray at the bottom and the next one that houses the worms. I don't find it fills up enough and the worms don't tend to use it enough. They seem happier with the one and I just remove some of the castings if it's getting full.
I used to have mine in the laundry, smells great, a little earthy but never off unless there was rotting food in there. I now have it just by the back door so I can feed them as I leave, and it doesn't get too hot (they fried this summer, and I had to start over.

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