Vermicomposting, worm bin, composting with worms community and forums
I've been contemplating an in-ground, doggy-poo vermidigester for a while, now, and finally got it placed and started the other day. I used an old Rubbermaid trash barrel we've had around for over a decade. We bought it new to use for aquariums and such. It's never had anything in it but clean, filtered, fresh or salt water. It had some large holes drilled in the sides because it was a reservoir for RO water and had a "sight glass" tube attached to the side to show how full it was. Therefore, it wasn't so useful as a trash can anymore, but would do just fine as my doggy poo reservoir.
The first pic is of an equivalent trash can (I forgot to take "before" pics or "just drilled" pics, so bear with me). I drilled 1/2" holes all over the lower part of the can (below the large step in the sides) and around the big holes that were already there. I cut out the bottom except for about 1" of the side to keep it stronger (sorry, again no pic, but not really important, picture a trash can with no bottom). I dug a hole in the back yard in the most convenient spot (the apparent preferred area for the dogs) that will have a blueberry bush bed nearby in the fall. I would not use this compost on anything (in fact, I'm hoping never to handle it at all), but see no reason why I can't let the blueberry bushes take advantage of a nearby resource on their own.
I buried the can nearly to the rim - about 2" from the top on the high side and nearly 4" on the low side (yard has a pretty good slope right there). I filled some of the dirt back in around the can and made a small berm to divert water around the can (hopefully). The lid is temporarily a chunk of plywood we had from some salvaged shipping crates from the hubby's work. I am working on a design for a lid that will let me step on a lever to open a hinged lid so I don't even have to bend (we'll see how soon I get around to that).
I have taken about 1/3 of my RM bin contents as a starter culture of worms (Ef's +/- Ea's?) in 1/2 of the bottom. I kept a couple Alabama Jumpers that I found while digging and tossed them in, too, and will continue to relocate more as I garden. I figure (I hope) that more will find it by themselves, anyway. I have added some moldy straw that I had on hand and some of the poo produced in the last few days by my 3 large dogs (I swear the 75 pounder makes nearly elephant sized poo). I put the poo on the other side from the worms so they could choose to dive in or wait a bit, lol. I have some shredded leaves in a bin that I'll use as the primary bedding/brown material in future.
I will keep posting as things go along. I'm hoping to get more worms and more species, so I can get maximum waste reduction as soon as possible. It will be an experiment in how much browns (as in high carbon bedding) I have to add vs how much "browns" (as in high nitrogen poo) I have to eliminate. I suspect I may need 2 of these to fully keep up with my dogs, we'll see once the population of worms increases. I'm sure that someday I will want to move the bin and I may regret the lip I left at the bottom of the can when that day arrives.
I think I'm going to need more ventilation. I'm trying to figure out how to do that without releasing too much of the odor of the, ahem, contents of the bin. I need to keep rain out of the top and keep water from flooding in the sides during a TX "frog-strangler" rain storm. I've been thinking I could drill some holes around the very edge of the top of the rim (not on the flat part, but just down the inside edge). I don't really want to get lots of flies, so I was thinking I could do larger holes and glue window screen over them like I did with my indoor bins. I like the idea of the BSF helping the worms, but not the reality of having lots of big, black flies in the back yard.
So, anyone have other venting suggestions? Or further thoughts or recommendations? Should I lift it out now and remove that lip at the bottom before it gets full? The can has thick ridges as reinforcement right at the edges (which is part of why I left that part, they'll be a bugger to cut through. Am I doomed to fill this and leave it in place forever more? What do ya' all think?