Vermicomposting, worm bin, composting with worms community and forums
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.
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?