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Here's my flow thru plastic barrel. I used string trimmer line for the grate, spaced 1 1/2 inches apart. I may have pulled too hard because the line tension made the middle of the barrel deflect a bit. Next time I'll have to fit a pipe brace or something across the middle to hold it round... or something. The occupants shouldn't mind though. I used low tech leather and sheet metal screws for hinges. This door may change in the future since I'm anticipating leaving it open most of the time for air flow, and think I'll need a screen door to keep out critters.

I loaded it two days ago with the top 3-4 inches of my wooden bin, and fed them a mix of vegis, coffee grounds, and rabbit manure yesterday. A plastic garbage can lid fits ok as a lid, but I think the wind will blow it off. May have to make a plywood circle. Added a piece of yardstick along the inside to measure the fill rate. I'm guessing that noting the height monthly will show some growth.

It is in a shady spot but since it's a white/clearish barrel I'm wondering if light will get in too much and keep the worms underground. May not be an issue. I'm also thinking that I'll make the bin portion a little deeper than 18 inches like maybe 22 so there can be 18 of bin with a 4 inch air space on top. I'm a dependable supporter of life's most constant thing... change!

Now I get to run the material left in the half of my wooden bin I took the starter layer from, through my trommel screen I just finished.

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Comment by Steven on October 5, 2010 at 8:50pm
Nice work, that looks great. I love the yard stick idea, I'm a huge fan of metrics. I think I'll add one to my FT. The white bin will probably help regulating the temperature if it gets any sun.
Comment by Susan B on October 5, 2010 at 9:45pm
Well done. Welcome to the FT world. I also had trouble with my oval tall kitchen plastic garbage can and the bottom wires sinking and pulling the middle in. Mine is so small I was able to use chop sticks to keep the sides out in a more or less normal configuration.

There's LOTS of space between the bottom of the VC and the bottom of the bin. Any particular reason? I can see it would make harvesting easier on the knees and back. Mine are so small I can lift them on to my work table to harvest.
Comment by Andrew from California on October 5, 2010 at 10:37pm
Looks good, Steve! You've been busy. Keep the updates coming. I "borrowed" from the top of my FT too often for it to ever pass the 12-14" level. If you have enough worms in there, it can take some careful adjustments in feed rate to keep the level going higher. The working worms can reduce the volume of material considerably. It speeds things up if you pre-compost the food stock.
Comment by Steve Lambert on October 6, 2010 at 9:36am
Thank you. I think I'm going to love the flow thru world of vermicomposting. Having fed a wooden worm box outdoors for 16 years I just wasn't aware of what is possible with other worm habitats. I knew about the Worm Factory but I never justified the cost. After seeing all the homemade possibilities I'm just so excited about using my flow thru I can hardly stand it. Occasionally I'll ditch or postpone a chore to "check the worm bin", or "feed the worms". It's a very satisfying activity this vermicomposting.

Steven - I hope the light coming into the white barrel doesn't adversely affect the worms. The bin sits in an all day shady spot and has a cover/lid.

Susan - The sides of my plastic barrel are thick and the circles provide a lot of strength, but I compromised it with the door cutout being just 2" below the tensioned string line. Right now the middle strings are sagging about 4". My next plastic barrel flow thru will have the string line running parallel to the access door so the tension doesn't pull on the weak spot. My dad made this suggestion and I'll be trying it out hopefully in the next several days on the next flow thru. I may even restring this one.

Andrew - I hope that feeding them when they run out of food and keeping their moisture level adequate will help them settle into an active, hungry, fertile population. My hot-rot compost pile was at 150 F yesterday so I have some food stock on it's way. In the mean time it's raw vegis, coffee grounds, and rabbit droppings.

Larry - Thanks for the velcro idea. I'm going to use that. I tend to make things complicated, so I'm glad to know someone like you who was cut from the KISS (Keep It Super Simple) mold. Belonging to this forum and knowing a few idea guys like you and my dad guarantee my success. I plan on leaving the door wide open for air flow until the bin temp gets low and the worms slow down. Then the bin(s) will move to the shed where I can control temp a little easier.

This initial flow thru was made to be operated at a comfortable working height for both feeding and harvesting. Recently I put it on 6" blocks to raise it so I have that much less to bend down. I'm not afraid of hard work but it's a time and energy efficiency thing I have, and I try to maximize the efficiency process. The bottom of the bin has 3" for VC to collect, then about 12 more inches before the bottom of the string line. My idea was to make this area easy to harvest from, easy to view what's happening at the bottom of the pile, and sufficient, safe space to put a 25 - 40 watt incandescent light bulb for heating the bin during cold weather. Of course much of all this is yet to be tried and tested, so I expect some of it will fail to work as planned, and some will work OK. Something that fails definitely helps me get to something that works. And of course ideas from my dad and Larry always help.

I gotta go check my flow thru!
Comment by Andrew from California on October 9, 2010 at 3:35pm
Steve, I added your FT to the DIY FT list. It's 50 gallons, right?
Comment by Steve Lambert on October 9, 2010 at 6:02pm
Great... a good area for followup on what's working and what's not. Thank you. I'll try to get a "Reality Check" on my flow thru posted in the next day or two.

I didn't know, so I went out to check... it says 220 L on the side, so I guess that's about 58 gallons. It doesn't matter to me or my herd, but for anyone wanting to compare bins or calculate capacities it would be good to represent it accurately. Thanks for checking.


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