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First Bin (45 gallon garbage can flow-through)

Hi Everyone - I've been lurking here for a while and finally got time to set up my own bin. After reading lots of posts over the past couple of months I decided to start with a continuous flow-through modeled after Jason's. I'll probably try a Rubbermaid as well in 6 months when I have some additional worms just for the experience of doing it, but I'm hoping the flow-through will be my main bin for getting rid of food and garden scraps once it gets going. Thanks to everyone here for all of the great info that helped me set up my first bin! Here's what I did:

I got a 45 gallon garbage can from Walmart for $14.88 and 3/4 inch OD electrical conduit in ten ft lengths from Home Depot for around $2 each. The grate ended up looking like this:

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When it came time to fill the bin, I placed 8-10 sheets of newspaper on the grate (figured having Reggie Bush and the Saints at the bottom of my bin would be good luck!)

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Then I added about 6 inches of dampened bedding (pieces of ripped-up cardboard and shredded leaves) and 4-6 inches of pre-rotted vegetable and fruit scraps mixed with shredded leaves that had been composting for several weeks.

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My 2 lbs of red worms arrived on 1/21/10 - I ordered them from Decker Worms in Houston because I figured the transit time would be short to Baton Rouge. My worms were only in transit for 2 days and were in good shape when I got them - they were packed in what appeared to be dry peat. I dumped in the whole bag to the bin and added some water to dampen the peat they were shipped in, and was surprised by how active they were right away. I topped them off with an inch of damp bedding. Finally, I added some appropriate decor for the worms' new abode which I'm sure they appreciated :) I also added a digital thermometer made for reptile enclosures that I got at PetSmart for around 10 bucks - the temp probe goes down into the middle of the bin. The pre-rot bin sits next to the worm bin. Most of my vegetable and food scraps go into the pre-rot bin rather than directly into the worm bin - I throw in whatever I have whenever I have it, and just cover with some shredded leaves - no worries about overfeeding or overheating this way. I was freezing scraps for a while but this is much more convenient for me. Most of what goes in are vegetable and fruit scraps, and some coffee grounds from work.

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The hardest part of all this by far was not messing with them too much for the first week, but yesterday I couldn't stand it any longer and decided to check on what was going on under the bedding. In addition to finding lots of happy red worms, I had an awesome surprise - there were already cocoons after only ten days - there are lots of them in the pre-rotted material that I started the bin with - yippee!

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Views: 8806

Comment by Michele on February 1, 2010 at 4:55pm
Welcome to the World of Worms!!! You have a very nice setup and sounds like you are off to a great start.
Michele
Comment by bpearcy10 on February 1, 2010 at 6:02pm
Go Saints!
Comment by geaux_worms on February 1, 2010 at 6:14pm
Who Dat Dem Worms!
Comment by Andrew from California on February 1, 2010 at 9:39pm
Now that's what I'm talking about! What a great way to start vermicomposting. No messing around with a handful of worms in small bins. Sounds like you did your homework and jumped in the deep end. Bravo! I added your bin to the list of DIY Flow Through bins
Comment by Andrew from California on February 1, 2010 at 10:05pm
I didn't notice the lack of air holes, Jane. Personally I would live the bin top open. My guess is condensation would form if you kept the lid closed. Worms would literally climb the walls.
Comment by Garden Citizen on February 2, 2010 at 1:07am
If the lid is off and with the open bottom is that enough air or should one also have some holes around the middle too?
Comment by geaux_worms on February 2, 2010 at 8:28am
You folks are exactly right - when I leave the lid down all the time I do get condensation on the sides and the underside of the lid, and have a few worms wandering up the sides. Most of the time I keep a large piece of cardboard on the top of the bin and just close the lid over it - when I do that I have no wandering worms and no condensation at all on the sides or the lid. This seems to have worked well in terms of keeping the moisture level in the bin appropriate and the worms happy.

I have ordered some 3" round plastic louver covers (like in the pic below from redwormcomposting.com) and plan to install one at the top of each side of the bin for ventilation.



I'm hoping that this will allow me to keep the lid completely closed and still have good ventilation and moisture levels. If needed, I'll add a couple more 3" holes in the back. My understanding of this type of flow-through is that the large opening in the bottom provides for a lot of air flow as long as there is some ventilation at the top, and that it's pretty common for people to use a pizza box or other large piece of cardboard to cover the top, allowing enough ventilation.

Once I get the louver covers installed I will certainly report back on how they affect the moisture levels in the bin, and whether or not two 3" holes are enough to allow me to keep the lid closed all the time.

Thanks everyone for their comments and suggestions!
Comment by Andrew from California on February 2, 2010 at 4:31pm
gw, the louvres should work great. Most folks have just drilled 1/2" holes just below the lip of the lid, but yours will sport a more hi-tech look.

Jane, I was agreeing with you that the bin needs ventilation from the top. I was just saying that I would just keep the lid entirely open. Jason, who has a blue 65 gal. FT trash bin, kept the lid open for many months before he got the hang of adjusting for moisture content in his feedstock. I think he now closes the lid, but he has vent holes drilled just below the lid.

Those who live in cold climates usually keep the lid closed to retain warmth. Even with vent holes, excess moisture can be a problem.
Comment by bigtex worms on February 2, 2010 at 8:10pm
I have one of these and made mine by feeding through some coated laundry line, since I am a woman and did not want to deal with cutting metal pipe.


You can see my article about barrel style bins here:
Comment by Eve on February 3, 2010 at 6:33am
My blue barrel FT has two 3" hole in the lid and the line where i cut the lid off is not that strait. So i would say that the amount of air moving through the bin would come out to the same volume as your will when the lovers are installed.

I have never worried about covering the holes. The FT isn't inside, i get fruit flies in the summer but i also have a collection of baby frogs and toads move into the top of the bin that eats the flies. And add there poop to the system. Its a win win.

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