Vermicomposting, worm bin, composting with worms community and forums

As some of you may know, I collect empty egg cartons from where I work and as can be expected, that has elicited many questions. This has provided me with several opportunities to share the wonders of vermicomposting with my poor unsuspecting co-workers. One of my co-workers appeared more interested than disgusted so I offered to make one for her 7 year-old. She responded positively, so I went ahead and made one. My original idea came from Susan's of making an FT from a kitchen trash bin. I was going to go for one with a lid though. I found something better - 11.75 gallon pet food bin.

I also purchased some wire clothesline to make my shelf support.

Cutting the door in the bottom was a painstaking mess. What is the trick? First I tried drilling holes in all for corners and then using a razor blade. No luck. The blade on my Leatherman wasn't a match for the plastic either. The saw zaw was not a good choice either. The only thing I could get to work was the Dremel saw, and even that wasn't the best. Has anyone else found something that works very well?

To assist with ventilation, I also drilled holes along the top edge on all four sides. They are probably 1/4 inch holes.

After drilling holes 1.5" apart from each other above the door, I wrapped the wire through them and knotted each end. I put 3 layers of dry newspaper on top of the wire.

I placed some almost finished vermicompost that had already been harvested and was dry as well as some dry UCG with a couple of filters as the first layer (about 2 inches worth).

I used a spray bottle to dampen it a little before taking some mostly composted material from another worm bin that was too wet from the rain we've been having. After adding in some rotten strawberries, I put in some nice half-composted bedding from my Gusanito which is a little on the dry side at the moment (so I sprayed my active tray with my bottle as well). You can see the strawberries on the left and the remains of an avocado on the right (it was put whole in my Gusanito on August 20-rats took a few bites out of it when it fell on the ground). The pit split open and sprouted - the worms are all over it.

On top I placed torn-up egg cartons that have been soaked to make a good layer of 3-4 inches.

On top of that I placed a thick layer of bougainvillea flowers that had fallen on the ground and gotten wet in this morning's rain. The worms love them and they make wonderfully light, fluffy vermicompost along with the egg cartons.

The very top layer was a mixture of both dry and damp leaves that had fallen from our fruit and Plumera trees.

Hopefully it will function well for my co-worker's 7 year-old. I chose a clear container hoping that it would allow her to watch the vermicomposting process easier. I'm going to let it settle a little bit before putting the lid on and allow them to recoup a little bit before taking them to their new home.

Below you can see the black cloth that I attached to the bin with velcro on the side so the front can open and close.

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Comment by Andrew from California on October 29, 2010 at 7:45pm
Looks real good, GC. My only suggestion is to find a light black cloth to drape over it so the worms aren't exposed to light. Another option would be to build a cardboard "box" around the portion below the vent holes. Tape 3 of the corners and leave the 4th loose. They could then open that side of the box like a door.
Comment by Garden Citizen on October 29, 2010 at 8:07pm
Great idea Andrew - thanks for the tip!
Comment by Garden Citizen on October 29, 2010 at 8:22pm
Made the box around it, hopefully that will make them happy. :D
Comment by Steve Lambert on October 29, 2010 at 9:01pm
Nicely done! I may build one as an observation FT myself. Very cool

Re: cutting out a door... I had success with drilling a hole with a drill bit who's diameter allowed me to get my tool of choice into the void (the drilled out part) to saw/cut the material for the opening of the door. For my 58 gal barrel FT I used a 1 1/2" forstner bit to drill the hole for a jigsaw blade to fit into and continue cutting. This gave me a finger hole to open it and use it as a door, but others may just want it cut away and left open. I hope the pic below shows you what I'm talking about. Use whatever size drill bit you decide, or you have on hand. A forstner bit or a brad point bit has a sharp center that is nice when drilling a hard, slick surface like plastic. You could also drill out each corner and that might help you turn the corner when using your cutting tool of choice.

Comment by Garden Citizen on October 29, 2010 at 10:21pm
Awesome Steve! I actually cut it out completely as a window, although I did keep the plastic piece I cut out in case the family I give it to would like it attached as a door with hinges instead...In which case the finger hole is a GREAT idea!
Comment by Susan B on October 29, 2010 at 10:27pm
I had a clear bin for a while. I put a thick towel over it during the day but I found that the PEs don't react at all to artificial light. Even with the towel, they would disappear from the edges during the day but come back and feast at the edges at night. I could turn on a really bright light and they wouldn't flinch. This was before we got EFs from Olomana, so I don't know about them. It might be kind of cool for the kid to see the different species of worm acting differently at the edges.
Comment by Rebecca Wilson on November 1, 2010 at 7:58am
This is a great idea!
Beckie =)
Comment by Diana on November 4, 2010 at 1:54pm
the only question I have is how will you get the casting out of the bottom... maybe I'm not seeing an opening.
Comment by Andrew from California on November 4, 2010 at 2:16pm
Diana, the opening is a little hard to see since the material is translucent.

Comment by Steven on November 5, 2010 at 4:48pm
Nice job! I toyed with the idea of using that exact container for my FT before I settled on a kitchen garbage can. I used a cheap jigsaw I bought at Buy'N'Large, it worked really well. I think it cost 20 or 30 dollars and gave me an excuse to buy another power tool.

One suggestion. If you still have the plastic you cut out, consider adding a "lip" to the top of the opening protruding into the catchment area, by maybe an inch. I say this because the bin you made, like mine, is slightly tapered in toward the bottom. The top of your window is actually slightly outside of the catchment area. I have found that if I over water, as I keep doing, it drips VC and water and sometimes worms. Some of the dripping lands outside the bin because I don't have a lip to direct it into the catchment.


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