How To: Build a Worm Hotel

By Matt Seek | June 1, 2013
From Xplor: June/July 2013

You can recycle newspapers, turn kitchen scraps into garden fertilizer, and raise a never-ending supply of fishing bait. All you need are worms and a place to keep them.

here’s what you need

  • 10- to 20-gallon plastic tub with a lid (Make sure the tub is a solid color, not clear.)
  • Drill with a 1/4-inch drill bit
  • Newspaper
  • Two handfuls of sandy soil
  • One pound of red wiggler worms (Search for Eisenia foetida online — that’s the scientific name for red wigglers. Don’t use worms from your backyard. They won’t survive in your worm hotel.) here’s what you do
  • Kitchen scraps such as vegetables, fruit, pasta, egg shells, and coffee grounds (Avoid meat and dairy. They will make your worm hotel stink.)

here’s what you do

  1. Have an adult drill holes 2 inches apart in the sides of the top half of the tub. This lets in air for your worms. Drill a few holes in the bottom of the tub for drainage.
  2. Tear newspapers into 2-inch-wide strips. Soak the strips in water, wring them out so they’re damp, not wet, and fluff them up. Fill the tub three-quarters full with strips.
  3. Sprinkle soil over the strips. Worms don’t have teeth, so they eat grit to grind their food.
  4. Scatter worms over the strips.
  5. Wait a couple days for your worms to settle into their hotel. Chop a cup of kitchen scraps into pieces and scatter the scraps throughout the tub. Cover the scraps with newspaper strips and put the lid on the tub.
  6. When the worms eat all the scraps, add more. If the bedding gets dry, spray water on it.

In a couple months you’ll notice extra worms in your hotel. Use a few for fishing or give some to friends to start new worm hotels. You’ll also see lots of black “soil” in the tub. Gardeners call these castings. You might call it worm poop. Whatever its name, it’s great for your garden. To separate worms from their homemade fertilizer, place the tub in the sun for 20 minutes. The heat and light will force worms deep into the tub so you can scoop out the top few inches of poop, uh, fertilizer.

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This Issue's Staff

David Besenger
Les Fortenberry
Karen Hudson
Regina Knauer
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
Tim Smith
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White