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So, I guess I'm pretty hooked on vermicomposting already.  I've gone from the garden worm tubes started in early fall, to a RM bin, to the new FT bin.  The bins are both indoors.  I seeded the worm tubes with Ef's, the RM bin is Ef's and the FT is EF's so far, but I'm working on sources of Eh's, Ee's (thanks, again, to Pat James) and looking for any other species that can co-habit in a FT.  I'm hoping to add some Alabama jumpers as I work the garden come warmer weather.

 

Pat didn't know it, but he had a major hand in the design of my FT bin since I'm using harvester rods like his.  I've used fiberglass window screen attached to the top edge with a loose flap folded over to the inside as an escape barrier.  I have 3, 1" vent holes near the top on each side that have screen glued down over the holes (part of the escape barrier screen).  I'm using larger than usual vent holes to let in some light to help discourage worm travel.  The door has wire window screen over the hole to limit fly, and even more important, cat access to the underside of the bin.  I used scrap plastic from the center of the door to reinforce the margins of the door hole.

 

The harvester rods are 1/2" ID PVC pipe on 4" centers.  The screws are 3" drywall screws spaced about 2" apart and I tried to alternate them as best I could (without being completely anal about spacing).  Sorry, they're not super easily visible on the "inside the bin" view.  The screws are inserted all the way through one wall of the PVC, and just barely pushing on the inside of the opposite wall of the pipe, to brace them a bit and help prevent loosening.  The bottom of the rods are 12" from the bottom of the bin so the screws can clear the "wheel well" area at the back of the bin.  There are caps on the rods on the back of the bin and "T's" on the front as handles to turn the harvesting rods.  The caps are a very snug, slip fit, the "T's" are glued on since there will be more force applied to them.

 

I first laid down multiple layers (at least 7-8, I used extra since I didn't have the nearly finished VC for the bottom) of moistened newspaper, then layered some very finished cow manure compost, then about 1/3 of the RM bin bedding and worms on top.  Then I topped that with very moist, shredded cardboard and shredded, mixed leaves and about 3 tablespoons of finely ground egg shells.  The cardboard/leaf bedding was soaked for 3 days ahead of time, then wrung out well before being added to the bin.  I've added just a very light layer of past prime green, leafy veg to start off the feeding cycle.  I topped this all with dry strips of assorted shredded paper and paper towels to help take up excess moisture, discourage fruit flies, and inhibit worms traveling up, while still giving "shade" to the worms as long as they're down where they belong.  All together, about 12" including the very fluffy top layer.

 

I am open to any suggestions or tips anyone has for me.

 

Please forgive the bad cell phone pics.Pics before attaching door.  You can tell it's a used bin!  Thoroughly cleaned, but now "upcycled" for worms.

This pic shows the large, screen covered vent holes and the floppy, fiberglass screen to stop worm travelers.

Another view of the "worm fencing".  Once I get some Pe's and Ee's, we'll see how well it works.

And finally the harvesting rods.  It's surprisingly difficult to get the screws all angled the same direction, so they look a bit erratic.  This also somewhat shows the reinforcing strips I made from the center cut-out plastic from the door.  I don't have screws close to the front on the 2 outside bars because of the bump-in the bin has on the front.  I used aluminum rivets to attach the reinforcing strips and when I finally put the hinges on the door.  Total cost to me was around $10.00 for the PVC pipe, fittings and hinges.  We already had all the window screen scraps, the staples and glue for the screen, drywall screws, hook and eye for the latch (not shown, everybody knows what they look like), pvc cleaner and glue, rivets and the tool to apply the rivets.  The bin was a freebie abandoned at my hubby's work by a company that moved out (he's a building engineer at a commercial building group). 

 

I hope this will be a great VC producer and easy to harvest, as well as contain any worms prone to wandering (Pe's and Ee's when I finally get them).  I now have some moist paper shreds in the very bottom of the bin for any worms that may drop down below the bars.  So, suggestions, anyone?

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Comment by Pat James on February 4, 2011 at 4:50pm

Sharon, I noticed the similarities to my own harvesters. I am impressed with the other enhancements you added, like larger vent holes to deliberately let in light. You have definitely thought through possible problems and moved to prevent them.

To me it's suprising how many people do not think of problems/deficiencies first and how to counter them. Most people are more reactive than proactive. KUDOS!!!

So far I have not had problems with the drywall screws.

How does it feel to be so interested in a bunch of invertebrates rather than the animals you deal with on a day to day basis?

Comment by Sharon Hollars on February 4, 2011 at 4:57pm
Are you thinking leaving the top open for air circulation or for limiting worm adventures?  I pretty sure the Ef's will be fine and hope that they have the bin kind of, hmmm, prepared for the other species by the time I get them.  I didn't have a single Ef stray from my RM bin and I used the same large holes with screen over them.  I know the other species can be more adventuresome, but I'm hoping the screen will keep them contained.  I'm more worried about the little darlings diving deep and going out the bottom.  The Ef's were added deeper in the bin per reading done here, but the others will all be added to the top.  I've been debating about the night light in the top and the bottom.  It would be easy enough to rig.
Comment by Sharon Hollars on February 4, 2011 at 5:04pm

Pat, I've always like invertebrates!  I've been a mud pie maker and worm collector from my early days.  My mom always assigned me outdoor chores instead of indoor, cuz she knew she'd have trouble keeping me inside long enough to do the indoor stuff.

 

I trialed the big, screen covered holes with my RM first and it seems to have worked well, so I kept it with the FT.  I figure it can't hurt to have all the no continued cost measures I can to keep the more adventurous species contained.  I knew from all my reading here and elsewhere that I would want multiple species, so tried to plan ahead as much as possible.

Comment by Sharon Hollars on February 4, 2011 at 6:23pm
Pe's will go right through regular window screen?  Hmm, maybe I need to skip the Pe's, or at least wait until the bin is more established.  The hubster has been very tolerant of my worms so far, but if they start marching across the floor with every storm I'm not so sure he'll be so easily convinced I need them inside.  He was a bit skeptical of the big FT bin as it is.  Thanks for all the input, I appreciate all the info from your first hand experience.
Comment by Sharon Hollars on February 5, 2011 at 6:57am
Hah, they're a truckin' on out o' there, aren't they!  Have you had them in taller bins and do they do the same thing in the taller bins?  Right now I have about 12" of very well ventilated space above the bedding.  Do dry bin sides keep them in place?  How did you find out they'll go through 2 layers of window screen, was the screen in the bottom of the bin?  Could they have been working their way around the screen at the edges?
Comment by Frank Dwelley on February 5, 2011 at 12:05pm

Sharon,

Well done.  I am looking to make my first FT, and was not going to make any kind of turning rod design; just the scrape-the-grate- method.  After seeing your design, I just may rethink that decision and take the extra steps to include that capability.

 

+Frank

Comment by Paula Allen on February 5, 2011 at 2:04pm

Sharon that looks great.  I can't wait to get my less the great worm bin started lol.  Im going to have to order at least a pound maybe two for it.  Im saving all my soda cans and I will use the money for them.  I most likely will keep this one inside also.  Now that you said you needed to keep the cat out.  If mine was out side we have coons that drop by some times and I don't want some darn coon getting into my worm bin. 

   Now I have enough worm systems.  I don't need any more.  Im SET.  Unless I can talk my husband into making me a system like Larrys Big Bin.  hehehe

Comment by Sharon Hollars on February 5, 2011 at 10:45pm

GG, I just let the hubby read the blog and he's not inclined to the whole, "marching worms" idea.  I think I may have to skip the Pe's.  I told him I think the cats will eat them before they get very far, anyway!  :-D

 

Frank, it really was pretty easy to do the rods.  We put the caps on one end of the pipe, slid it into place, then marked where to cut.  Removed it, cut 2 that length and repeated the process for the center one.  We allowed about 1/2" for the "T" to slip over the pipe plus about 1/4" play.  We put the cut rods (with caps on) into place, and marked the starting holes at the front of the rods (inside the bin).  Pulled them out, marked all the way down the length of one side, pre-drilled the holes, then turned them over and used my fingers to feel the holes on the back side of the rod and eye-balled in-betweens for the opposite side.  We slid the rods back into place, glued the "T's" on, then leaned in and started putting the screws into place.  Because of the shape of the front of my bin, we did the 2 outside rods first, then the center one to try to space them between the other screws.  It sounds a bit more complicated when you write it all out, but it went pretty fast.  I'm sure someone watching would have found it comical that DH and I are both leaning head-down, halfway into the bin to place the screws - I would steady the rod while he ran the screws into place (he does love his power tools).

 

Paula, my 4 young cats are entirely too curious.  They spend a fair amount of time sitting on top of the fabulous new worm bin.  They are delighted with mom's new device, as it provides an elevated vantage point and a whole new view of the house.  Did you know that at least 3 cats can sit on top of worm bin if they're feeling cooperative?  Who knew?

 

Thanks to everyone for the nice comments as well as good advice and tidbits of knowledge.

Comment by Jay on February 6, 2011 at 12:50am
looks good my only suggestion might be to drill the screws in some more so that they don't break off when it becomes full and you try to turn it.
Comment by Jay on February 6, 2011 at 1:01am
I'd say larry knows what hes talking about.  Ef can get through  window screen from what I've seen. I tried placing a layer of screen  on the bottom of my worm factory to prevent them from getting in the liquid  catch tray and the bottom still has worms in it.

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