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My New Flow Through Bin (With Pictures!)

I finally got time to put my flow through bin together. It turned out well and didn't take long. I'll walk you through the process.

Here's the bin after a light washing but before any modification. From the looks of it, it's former life was a a paper recycling bin, so there wasn't much washing to be done, thankfully.


The design is pretty standard, and will look familiar to anyone who has been around the web looking at worm bin pictures. First step was to measure off my door. I went with 11" wide so I could get a dustpan in there. If I remember correctly the height is around 8". Then I drilled one hole in the centre of the bin, 1" above my door. Here it is with one rod in place:


Of course, the next step is measuring off the rest of the holes (I used the garden fork I'll be scraping with to get the measurements, placement ended up being about 1 1/4" apart) in the front and the back, and drilling them. Then placing the rods in (I used permanent stakes since I had them already, and they are pretty strong and coated in plastic so they won't rust) and cutting out the door with a jigsaw. After the rods were in I cut them with a saws-all so they weren't sticking out as much. Here's a picture before I did that, so you can see them sticking way out the back.


Here's a view inside:


After that it was brought inside and I dumped the contents of my oldest stack bin inside, after lining the grating with three pieces of newspaper to help prevent fall-through. This is pretty well processed stuff which I could use in my garden, but I wanted to use it here instead so I can give the system a while before I harvest, and to give the worms a place to go if things get bad anywhere.


One surprise was the bins I had set up just a few days ago, before I got this wheeled bin. The amount of processing the worms had done in a matter of days was really impressive. 4-5 lbs of worms are eating machines! It's tough to see in this pic but maybe you can get an idea.


Finally, I took the unprocessed bedding out of my two bins, dumped the working sections on top of my older compost, added some fresh food, and then put the bedding back on top of it all.


Here is the finished product in its final home:


Since I've read that flow through systems can get on the dry side (which will be a nice change of pace let me tell you) I haven't drilled any holes in the lid. I've got 9 large holes around the perimeter at the top, and those should give good airflow without a lot of evaporation. If I find things are still too wet, I might drill some holes in the top as well.

I must say, I'm really looking forward to seeing what this baby can do. It should hit the ground running because there is at least 10 lbs of worms in there.
I'm also looking forward to not blending (or possibly even freezing) my food scraps anymore...

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Thanks for sharing the pictures. As you know, I've been thinking of creating a similar bin for a couple of months. Most of the trash cans I've seen have uneven walls. I don't think the uneven walls will work as well as the square walls in your bin.
I was incredibly lucky to get this bin. I'm still not aware of anywhere that I could buy a bin like this outside of an industrial supply place, and if I got one there it would probably run me 100 bucks.

As it stands this thing cost me about 15 bucks - the value of the stakes).

I know a lot of people have built these types of systems in round barrels, but I really prefer the (relatively) square walls.
The basic principle behind this could be, and has been, translated to various particular instantiations. Wood is a popular alternative to plastic. The downside is that eventually it will rot and need to be replaced, but that will be some time from now, and if you line the inside with something you solve the problem.

A member here recently started using a flow through bin made out of wood, so that might provide some inspiration too.
Kudos Jason, it looks like a solid design. Let us all know how it performs. I've seen a lot full of these bins! Imagine the possibilities! And on wheels! Muhuha... How deep do you think capacity level is? Did you think of any other cost efficient ways to fabricate the bed's mesh bottom?
From the grating to the top holes is 25". Thanks to the wonderful math skills of the internet I've found that it works out to about 6 cubic feet total area. (Length and Width are 22.5" and 19.5" respectively)

I didn't really think much about possible grating solutions because I knew early on that using the stakes meant I didn't have to worry about rust and I didn't have to worry about going out and buying anything. My biggest two concerns would be rust and strength. Threaded galvanized steel rods would work, as would conduit I think. PVC might work too, though the chemical aspect may be a concern. Anything weaker than that would worry me. I've seen people thinking about using weed whacker cord and stuff like that, but I wouldn't want anything too bendy either. And you need something that makes harvesting easy, too. These stakes cost about a buck each and galvanized rods aren't too expensive either. Maybe less.
Jason very nice it looks wonderful.

Try cutting a cardboard lid to sit on top of the bedding. Make it a little smaller than the area needed to be covered to allow for air flow. I like mine in sections so i can just slide a section aside to feed. You can poke a few small holes through it if you like. The lid will help keep more moisture in the bedding and prevent a lot of flying bugs. It also has a neat side affect - the worms will come up to the top of the bedding. When you pull the cardboard off you will be able to see the worms working the surface.
My weed whacker cord only works because I've got such a small bin. It's set up in a tall kitchen trash can. I'm clearly on the internet, but I've just got to buy/borrow a digital camera so I can show it to you. Soon.

Hi Jason,

 

What a great help your photos are.  Thank you.  What are the stakes?  Where did you get them?  It looks like they work great.  I'd like to duplicate your design.  Is that ok?

 

+Frank

cost eficient depending on your ability to scrounge o got som 3/8 dia fiberglass electric fence poles from the dump
Why won't you have to freeze or blend your scraps with this system? It looks great by the way.
Thanks. I started freezing my food primarily because I could never safely put in garbage as it accumulated. Food waste tended to come in fits and starts and most of the time it was too much at once for my bin to safely handle. With the flow-through I am hoping the larger size and (eventually) increased worm biomass will mean that I can just dump in food as It comes, maybe emptying my storage container twice a week or something like that. I may still freeze in the summer time to keep fruit flies to a minimum.

I only started blending recently because I wanted the worms to more quickly process the food, because I had frozen food piling up. It worked, but it's a lot of messy work and -like before- in theory at least the increased air flow, worm biomass, and the longer time-to-harvest provided by a larger continuous system should mean that I don't need to blend anymore. I've also read that blending can more easily lead to the food heating up, and I can attest to that from my experience. It's something which I'd like to avoid here if possible.

Eve: You read my mind. I actually went and put some newspaper on top last night, and when I find a piece of cardboard that is large enough I'll probably do that. Or maybe your sections idea is the way to go. It's a good idea. Maybe I'll do quarters?

The bin looks great.  That is a good ideal about putting the cardboard in sections so you dont have to lift the whole piece to feed or peek.  I have a stack of old mini blinds that I have not thrown out yet.  Maybe I can use the adjustment rods in a flow thru bin like yours?  I might use the blind parts in my square foot garden as grids.  Execelent detail by the way. 

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