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5 dollar, 1/2 hour Worm Composting Bin(s)
by Marcos on July 11, 2006 Table of Contents intro: 5 dollar, 1/2 hour Worm Composting Bin(s) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . step 1: Get your stuff together . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . step 2: The foundation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . step 3: Second verse, same as the first . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . step 4: Ready for worm move-in . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . step 5: Care and feeding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . step 6: The Harvest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . step 7: Cottage Industry? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Related Instructables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Advertisements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Customized Instructable T-shirts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Comments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 2 3 4 5 5 5 6 6 6 6 6

http://www.instructables.com/id/5-dollar-12-hour-Worm-Composting-Bins/

intro: 5 dollar, 1/2 hour Worm Composting Bin(s)
No flashing lights, bikes or iPods here. Just worms in a box. Eating. Update: I've added this to the "repurposed" instructables because this project is made of 100% salvaged and repurposed materials. Also, the worms are busily repurposing food scraps into fertilizer. Years ago, when I was poor and under-employed, I craved a worm bin (aka vermicomposter), famous for the fastest compost in the West. I did research on the web, and found that commercial bins were expensive, as much as US$200 for an Australian multi-tray "worm farm", which was way too big for my apartment-dwelling self anyway. That winter, I visited my sister in Oregon nursery country, and she had the brilliant idea to use nursery flats as trays. I've seen simpler versions of worm bins, a 5 gallon bucket, or a big Rubbermaid tub with a lid. They probably work as well, at least until you want to harvest your worm castings, which you must sift out of the newer bedding and food scraps. The tray version allows you to segregate old from new, in just a few minutes. Mine has a couple of issues I have not gotten around to solving, more on that in the last couple of steps. Update, Sept. '07: After all these years, I finally realized how easy it would be to separate the liquid from the food and castings. The castings I had been getting were thick mud. Enter the filter! I lined the next to bottom tray with heavy shade cloth, usually used overhead for shading plants, etc. You'll see it in the shade plant section of the nursery where you go to get your flats. I'll post photos later. Onward to the building part... Update, : May 28, 2008 See step 7 for some info on how I harvest the castings.

step 1: Get your stuff together
I bought 5 nursery flats (the trays that hold a bunch of small, square pots. They are also used to grow ground cover and grasses in. (you buy the whole flat of plants). outside the US, please let me know what's used in your country. A gruff old country nursery man sold me the flats for seventy-five cents each. You'll need: - 3-5 (or more if you eat a lot of vegetables) nursery flats - a piece of heavy 3-5 mil plastic sheeting, big enough to line one tray with a couple of inches coming out over the top edge. This will be the bottom tray. Another piece to lay over the top as a lid is optional. Better yet, a piece of screen to keep pesky flies out. - shredded or torn paper for bedding. I first used newspaper, then got a big bag of "cross-cut" shredded office paper from the Accounting dept. It works great, and I don't have to tear paper or put it through a home shredder any more. - 1 small stick for spreading bedding and food scraps. - about a pound ( a little less will do fine) of red wriggler worms - optional lid to keep varmints and light out. I used a scrap of wood. - food scraps, vegetable matter only! No fats. More on this later.

http://www.instructables.com/id/5-dollar-12-hour-Worm-Composting-Bins/

Image Notes 1. The nursery flat, with square holes just right for red wriggling upstairs or down for a snack. 2. The indispensible stirring stick, with bedding and food. 3. This one is the "foundation" with the plastic liner. There's a small clump of nekkid worms in the corner. See later steps for a closeup.

Image Notes 1. Here's a closer view of a nursery flat.

step 2: The foundation
Choose one tray, line it with the plastic sheet. I folded the corners as if I was wrapping a gift box inside out. Origami folders will know exactly what to do. The important thing is that the plastic is folded fairly neatly, so it does not bunch up and prevent the tray above from sitting down straight and comfortable. Add shredded paper, enough to fill it about 1/4 full. If you're ready to add worms, dampen the paper lightly. Worm literature says, "like a wrung out sponge". Not soggy and dripping, yet damp enought that sensitive wormy skin is not instantly dessicated. I usually don't put any food in the basement layer, as the worms seem to like this as their living room and bedroom. They tend to go up to higher layers to feed, and congregate in the bottom, where most of the castings (aka worm poop; compost) end up.

http://www.instructables.com/id/5-dollar-12-hour-Worm-Composting-Bins/

Image Notes 1. This bedding is from the office shredder. Most of it is damp from the moisture in the food and castings underneath it. If you're starting from scratch, sprinkle some water on it before adding your worms.

step 3: Second verse, same as the first
Only different. No plastic liner this time, set the second tray on top of the first, taking care to make sure it's nested all the way. The natural tendency of the trays is to curve a bit, sometimes it takes a bit of coaxing to get it seated snugly. It usually works best to put one end in first, then lay down the other. Jiggle and fiddle as necessary. This is important, as you don't want any leaks, or fugitive worms that may meet an untimely end underfoot, in a bird's beak or squashed at the next feeding time. This image shows the almost finished product. Note the not so carefully trimmed plastic liner obscuring the foundation tray. On the ends, you can see the ribs that hold the trays up, leaving an inch or so of space between the bottom grids. That's where the food, bedding and worms go.

Image Notes 1. It's a good idea to put a screen on the top, helps keep flies out. Just cut a piece out and lay it in the bottom of your topmost tray. I keep my bin inside a garden shed, so don't worry about rain filling things up. This is your only vent area, so don't close it off from air completely. Even worms need a little oxygen.

http://www.instructables.com/id/5-dollar-12-hour-Worm-Composting-Bins/

step 4: Ready for worm move-in
Worms, not just any worms, red wrigglers are recommended. These are a few of mine in the bottom of my bin, just after cleaning out the castings (worm poop), that goes for about US$10 a pound in gardening stores. They are available to buy, for an equally costly ~$20 a pound. Given my Scottish ancestry and small bank account at the time, I decided to go foraging on my own. There's a horse racing track nearby, and the manager gave me permission to dig around in their old manure piles. I felt a little, er, sheepish, but swallowed my pride and commenced to digging my own pound or so of worms. That was almost ten years ago, and their descendents are happily munching away on my lettuce scraps, banana peels, and mango seeds. Yep, the seeds, which eventually soften up and become cozy little hideaways inside.

Image Notes 1. Some will say, "Eewwwww!!!" Those in the know say that they are clean, don't smell bad, and will never bite. When my brother the fisherman visits, I make sure he steers clear of my trusy, high-speed composting friends.

Image Notes 1. Those are just nasturtiums in the background, not part of the project.

step 5: Care and feeding
There are more complete care and feeding descriptions elsewhere, I'll be back later to tell what I know. Meanwhile, if you have a good source for trays, worms or other information, please post it here.

step 6: The Harvest
Harvesting: Someone asked about harvesting the castings, and I probably did not address that step. Here is a brief description of how I do it. Eventually, I'll post some photos. I confess to not having read this instructable recently, apologies for any redundancies. The tray full of castings is usually the bottom one, where most of the worms stay. I usually rotate the trays, put that one on top, and move the entire bin outside. The worms can't take being in the light, so they head downstairs, encouraged by my gentle stirring once or twice an hour. Eventually, they all move lower, though it's a good idea to poke through any clumps. I suppose if you are more patient that I am, they'll all go on their own, with less work for you. I'm a little paranoid about ejecting my trusty friends from their comfy abode, so I am pretty thorough about sifting through the muck to get all I can back into safer territory. The harvest, and being able to keep the newer and older food separated are for me, the two main advantages to using the tray system rather than having one big tub.

http://www.instructables.com/id/5-dollar-12-hour-Worm-Composting-Bins/

step 7: Cottage Industry?
I've read about a co-op in India that collects vegetable scraps and makes compost, then sells it as a soil amendment. Given that worm composting is said to be the fastest way to make compost, I wonder if this idea would be useful in rural areas as a "cash crop" that just about anyone can do. What do you think?

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Worm bin bag for indoor vermicomposting and easy separation of worms from compost by amyoungs

Composting (guide) by noahw

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Mini Wooden Portable Compost Bin by Brennn10

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Advertisements Customized Instructable T-shirts

Comments
50 comments Add Comment view all 67 comments

bac512 says:

Dec 25, 2008. 9:33 PM REPLY while I haven't done this project yet, I would suggest going to the hardware or paint store and buying a plastic drop cloth, make sure ya get one of the thicker ones though, and not the really cheap ones....

Busymama62 says:

Dec 17, 2008. 8:01 AM REPLY I want to make sure before I do this. Is the very bottom tray the tray that drainage goes into and the next tray the one that has castings and you move to the top. If I have this right in my head, I do not want to move the tray with the plastic liner. Thanks! I do love this idea.

Marcos says:
Yep, bottom tray gets the liquid. Gravity and all. ;-) Any trays above that get food, worms, and bedding.

Dec 18, 2008. 6:37 PM REPLY

If you're just starting your bin, I'd but all 3 in the next to bottom tray, then, as your worm population and food volume grow, add more to the upper trays. My worms like to stay in the lower tray, and move up to the "surface" to feed, as they do in the wild.

FolkTaxonomy says:

Dec 11, 2008. 4:33 PM REPLY Hi. I was wondering if the plastic sheet is necessary, or if it would be possible to use an old sheet, towel or something similar instead. I just don't want to buy the plastic and wouldn't know where to get it. Also, this may be a stupid question, but where can one find scrap wood for free or cheap? Any other ideas on free alternatives for a lid?

Marcos says:

Dec 18, 2008. 6:33 PM REPLY Yes! You must have a waterproof bottom tray, otherwise, you'll have a puddle of brown worm pee on your floor. Scrounge around your workplace for a heavy plastic bag, or go to a furniture store and ask for one. Any place that has large objects that come in heavy bags. If you're really desperate, I suppose you could use a garbage bag, but I would not expect it to hold up for very long. The scrap of plastic sheeting I scrounged from a construction site debris pile (or was it a dumpster?) has lasted for close to 10 years. Also, it's handy to have a "filter" lining the 2nd tray up from the bottom. It keeps the worms and castings out of the liquid in the bottom. I used a (scrounged, of course) scrap of shade cloth; the black, loosely woven stuff nurseries use to shelter shade-loving plants. For the lid, don't bother with wood. I'm currently using a couple of sections of newspaper, which seems to work fine. Just make sure you get some airflow

http://www.instructables.com/id/5-dollar-12-hour-Worm-Composting-Bins/

into the bin, and between layers.

sideways says:

Jun 18, 2008. 1:43 AM REPLY Very useful instructable, thanks for posting it. I have been considering vermicomposting, but am afraid they'd starve. Being single, I just don't generate much kitchen waste. I do compost everything I can for my garden, however. But I never get more than a few shovelfuls a year. I understand worm castings are good stuff. Do you think it would be worth the extra effort to vermicompost, versus the regular composting I do already? In both cases, the material is broken down and goes back into the ground. Wondering if the effort of having the worms do it is worth it, in your opinion.

Atsinokangakaya says:

Sep 23, 2008. 9:03 PM REPLY Do you have any Starbucks where you live? Go over and ask for their used coffee grounds. They are great for feeding the worms. also grass clippings placed in a plastic bag and allowed to turn into compost under the sun is pretty good worm food too. Vermicomposting adds an added dimension once the compost goes through the guts of a worm. We used African Night Crawlers which are really composting worms and when they feed and then cast them, it is very rich in beneficial micro-organisms. You can add to the micro-organism by brewing the vermicast. What we do is add about a kilogram of dried vermicast in a cloth bag (synthetic one is best. Do not use cotton for it will rot too.) in a 60 liter water container half full. Add 1/4 kg. brown sugar for food to the micros and aerate the solution with an aquarium aerator. Use it after 24 hours for spraying as a poliar fertilizer, a fungicide and for drenching fungus infected soil around your fruit trees. If you do not use it all up, you will have to add some more sugar so that the micro-organisms will remain active.. Have a nice day..

Marcos says:
You're welcome.

Jun 20, 2008. 6:00 PM REPLY

In your case, you may be better off to stick with a "normal" compost pile. If it's like mine, and has no bottom, the worms, beetles, pill bugs and other decomposer helpers will find their way there. In a normal week around here, we probably generate about a gallon of scraps, coffee grounds, etc. The high-acid stuff like big piles of orange skins (from making juice, one of the benefits of having fruit trees in the yard), tough stuff like avocado skins and artichoke leaves, go into the regular compost. The worms don't seem to like potato peels either.

dpawson says:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sl9gY_SqyxM A video of a commercial wormery, on a small Canadian island.

Sep 20, 2008. 4:16 AM REPLY

Dough_Artisan says:

Aug 15, 2008. 10:50 AM REPLY Yikes-move a tire??..how about a can with a lid and a drill. Oh yeah someone nice and hunky to dig the hole.:~) Put wet shredded paper on top every now and then. http://www.metrokc.gov/dnrp/swd/naturalyardcare/documents/Make_a_Kitchen-Composter.pdf

Marcos says:
Move a tire? I usually wear jeans and a T-shirt. ;) I'm not sure what you mean....

Aug 16, 2008. 9:29 AM REPLY

joeymmeezz says:
do you use the worms for fishin

May 20, 2008. 9:06 PM REPLY

Marcos says:
Nope, but I lock 'em up when my fisherman brother comes over. ; )

May 30, 2008. 5:15 PM REPLY

joeymmeezz says:
but can u use them? because iam sick of buying worms when i can grow them

Jun 1, 2008. 9:34 PM REPLY

greatpanda says:

Aug 16, 2008. 9:21 AM REPLY yup, they should be just fine if you want to use some for fishing. Obviously, don't go hunting up all of them if you still want to grow more worms, but the populations come back fairly strong.

http://www.instructables.com/id/5-dollar-12-hour-Worm-Composting-Bins/

Arrrgh says:

Jul 22, 2008. 1:38 PM REPLY Thanks for sharing! great idea + simple to make = anyone can make one of these. And it does do wonders for gardens. I live in a rural area where there is plenty of cow/horse manure so bedding and mulching material is not a problem. And the demand is definately growing. My friend has turned her worm farm into a successful home business and quit her regular job last year to keep up with it! I think there are 8 or 9 vermicomposters in our county and I've seen a commercial worm bins sold here ($35 - $100) which cannot be any more effective than your design. http://digitalseed.com/solana/storefront.mv?Screen=STR2&Store_Code=solana

blyther says:

May 28, 2008. 2:13 PM REPLY Thanks for the great info. I could use some more, though. Do I put the worms in the bottom bin? Where do the food scraps go? How do I harvest the worm castings? I couldn't find these answers, but maybe I missed a step . . .

Marcos says:
You're welcome.

May 30, 2008. 5:14 PM REPLY

You can put them in the bottom. I usually do when starting out, esp. in a brand new bin. Worms being the intuitive critters that they are, wander around and "seek their own levels." The are surface feeders, so tend to live in the lower levels, eat on the upper ones. I often find them halfway between, with their pointy little snouts nosing around (snouting around?) above, while the other half of their bodies is in the tray below. I'll add a harvesting step to this Instructable. Maybe even some photos, next time I empty a tray.

BDMama says:
Fist: Kudos, great Instructable.

Mar 30, 2008. 3:52 PM REPLY

Second: I have a question about the red wrigglers: Aren't they an invasive species and you have to be careful not to let any escape and also do something to the castings so that you don't get any of their eggs into your garden? I have read that you need to put the castings in your freezer for a month before putting them into your garden. Third: I live in northern climes - really cold northern climes - how and where do you winter them over?

Marcos says:
Thanks for the kudos.

May 30, 2008. 5:01 PM REPLY

If red wrigglers are invasive to this area (8 miles East of San Francisco), then their invasion is complete. I found mine in an aged manure pile at a stable, and they have also turned up on their own in my compost pile. I agree with tdbtdb, put 'em in the basement or garage, and insulate the bin, (virtually no smell at all from mine. I even had it in a small apartment for awhile.) esp. the bottom. My sister had a bin (just a Rubbermaid tub) in her garage in Oregon, but they were too cold, and did not do well. I've never heard of freezing the castings, and really see no need to. It's just food (and occasional yard waste) scraps, that are broken down far faster than the average compost pile. I put 2-4 quarts of waste per week in my bin, and most of it is gone within a week or so.

tdbtdb says:

Apr 20, 2008. 3:47 PM REPLY put them in the basement. I bet if your pipes don't freeze, the worms will be okay. If you "do things right" they won't smell up the place, but this apparently is a skill which must be acquired.

Marcos says:
Thanks for the good words.

Apr 14, 2008. 9:27 AM REPLY

As far as I know, the red are natives to my area (8 miles E. of San Francisco, CA, USA). I found mine in a stable's manure pile, and they have also come into my regular compost bin on their own. Or maybe they have already invaded!! ;-) The temps around here rarely get below the high 30s F (shhhh!), so I don't worry about mine. They live in my metal garden shed. If it's a hot day, I open the door a little. For your area, I'd put them in the garage, and insulate heavily. Maybe figure out a way to use some waste heat to keep them warm. When I first started my bin, I had them in the entry hall of my apartment. Luckily, I had an understanding roommate.

tdbtdb says:

Apr 20, 2008. 3:44 PM REPLY This is really two instructables, one about how to make it, one about how to use it. Details about making are a bit too sparse for me. The nursery flats I found at my local nursery stack very compactly, no space in between for worms. Guess I need to keep looking or put some sort of spacer in between to make some space. But then light and flies will probably be able to invade and annoy the worms. I did a very brief google search, found several flats for sale online that have this problem, haven't found a suitable one yet.

http://www.instructables.com/id/5-dollar-12-hour-Worm-Composting-Bins/

Marcos says:

May 30, 2008. 4:55 PM REPLY People keep asking about how to use it, so I keep adding info. The making of it is pretty simple, (though getting the flats does seem to be harder in some areas. I guess I was lucky to find the ones I did. I spent quite a bit of time on the web, and have not been able to find them again. Part of it may be knowing what to call them, and they seem to have a couple of different names. I'll see what I can find out from the local wholesale nurseries. The spaces between "floors" on mine are about 1 1/2'. You're probably right about the fly problem. My bins seems to have collected a small colony, probably due to the open top. 10 years on, the worms seem to be doing well.

CrystalDyes says:

Apr 11, 2008. 1:26 PM REPLY I find it interesting to see that you're using shallow trays for this. Here in FL where my hubby is an avid fisherman, he gets worms from a friend who uses old dead refrigerators laid on their back with the door removed as a grwoing pot for his worms. He uses old sheets of recycled tin to cover them as well as keep out alot of the rain. I'm wondering if it's because he is raising worms and not worm poop? Our local landfill has a place, pre-weighing in, for people to dump all their large appliances. Lots of goodies there for us dumpster divers needing shelving (fridge & stove racks) and I even use some of the electric stove "eyes" for stamping on art projects. Take a few small tools & you can harvest virtually anything from them.

azebra5 says:

Feb 6, 2008. 3:02 PM REPLY I have an experiment going right now. No idea what will be the result but hoping. Last fall, early early, I covered about 18 in out from the foundation with landscape fabric and then the woven plastic bags and put bricks on either side of it to hold it down for the winter. I'm hoping that in the spring it will be turned into the same worm castings covered surface like my small garden is every spring on top of a very peat moss covered area. The area I covered beside the foundation has been loaded with a nasty groundcover "Snow on the Mountain" green and white leafed plant. It is terrible to get out of control. Tell you how it comes out.

lovejobworknomore says:

Jan 12, 2008. 12:39 AM REPLY hey, i have one like this at home. i use AFRICAN NIGHT CRAWLERS, they are worms with Flat on the underside (belly). they have the same food. THERE HOME BED IS THERE FOOD!!!!!! TWO TYPES OF FOOD : 1. CARBON GROUP (dried leaves, excess kitchen vegetables, rice (with no oil), and paper) this is garbage recycling. 2. NITROGEN GROUP ( chicken dung, cow dung,goat dung, and dried leaves, they have nitrogen too!) this will make the VERMICAST (worm poop) more nutritious to plants. 1 kilograms of worms can poop up to 100 kilograms of VERMICAST in just a 30 to 45 days!!! THATS A GREAT HELP TO THE ENVIRONMENT -- changing waste materials into NUTRITIOUS SOIL!!!! this is means changing 100Kilograms of garbage into PERFECT ORGANIC FERTILIZER. no overdoze for plants! VERMICAST is a good business!!! it is not cheap! and I get it for free from my worms??!!! THANK GOD!!!!! i have done this, i know this stuff! even now, i'm doing it! EASY MONEY AND ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY!!! additional QUOTE: IF YOU LOVE YOUR JOB, YOU DONT GET TO WORK A SINGLE DAY OF YOUR LIFE NO MORE!!!

prince-of-weasels says:

Dec 6, 2007. 7:41 PM REPLY (A)The cash crop idea would take more money than you'd think because you'd have to scale up waaaaaaaaaaaay past trays and guard against rouge lizards .birds and fiendish fishermen_ (B)Red wigglers thrive under rabbit hutches or piles of horse apples or meadow muffins.What you are doing here works better for 'wild' wigglers{found under leaves and detritus along streams and creeks}or night crawlers from the lawn.

kirnex says:

Sep 18, 2007. 12:15 PM REPLY I COMPLETELY love you. Having just bought a new space with a big yard in need of love, I've been sorely in need of a vermicomposter, yet really struggling with the idea of spending $100-200 on something that basically amounts to $5 worth of plastic anyhow. I'd considered using chickenwire and creating my own frames, etc. but wow--this is just what I need. If I could vote an "instructable" of the year, this would be it. Sheer genius! Now, I've just got to convince my local nursery guy that he REALLY wants to sell me some of these groovy flats...

JasonQ says:
Jason

Aug 20, 2007. 10:34 PM REPLY Another source of red wiggler worms I've found is bait shops. Usually reasonably priced, and you can have them in hand same-day.

caitlinena says:

Apr 17, 2007. 2:07 PM REPLY a book I have found the best and easy to find used is Worms Eat My Garbage by Mary Appelhoff. She also has a worm womanwebsite:

ccaldwell30 says:

Apr 14, 2007. 1:39 PM REPLY Can't wait to start my own. I've seen large scale worm composting done on Dirty Jobs on Discovery Channel. Its been a while since I watched it but they had an entire greenhouse full.

http://www.instructables.com/id/5-dollar-12-hour-Worm-Composting-Bins/

royalestel says:

Mar 1, 2007. 6:25 PM REPLY I'm extremely interested in where to find greater detail as to care and feeding of the worms... Would you recommend a link, book, etc? I hope our nursery here will sell me some cheap flats... Thanks for the instructable. I've wanted a worm "farm" for a while, but I was just too ignorant and hesitant until now. I suggest you post a close up of the pic that shows all the separate layers, including the one full of "worm food". I couldn't see the pic content well at all.

Marcos says:
royaletel, Great news! Please let us know how you do, post a pic or two of your bin here. I'd love to see how others make their bins.

Mar 15, 2007. 7:53 PM REPLY

See the first step of this instructable for a link to care and feeding, also, a web search. They are pretty low maintenance. The basics: - Any plant matter is ok. They don't like really tough stuff like avocado peels, artichoke leaves, and for some reason, potato peels. Maybe I have gourmet worms, I don't know. Coffee grounds are good, a little citrus is ok, but not too much, the acid will literally dissolve them. I still bear the scars from that trauma! - Do not- feed 'em: - animal products of any kind - fats That's about it. Keep a little paper in there for bedding, add the food to one layer at a time, at least to start. Mine like to congregate in the bottom tray, move up to feed, as in nature, I suppose.

royalestel says:
I'll let you know how it goeth.

Mar 16, 2007. 8:43 PM REPLY

cavemanager says:
you can use coffee grounds worms will it that

Mar 4, 2007. 9:43 AM REPLY

gowithflo says:
Hey Marco, thanks for the great Instructable, just built mine out of bread crates and I get my worms tomorrow !!! so excited. Also i just started a gardening group . . . want to join? Add this instructable please! http://www.instructables.com/group/reapwhatyousow/

Feb 20, 2007. 4:46 AM REPLY

Marcos says:

Dec 20, 2006. 7:44 PM REPLY I just stumbled on this writeup of worm composting, which does a pretty good job of describint the care and feeding part. As an Instructables regular, you'll naturally want to be fiddling with the guidelines ;-) Below are a short and long version of the same web address. worm care 1 worms url

wisk778 says:

Dec 19, 2006. 2:56 PM REPLY What a great idea, I wish I'd known about this years ago. Can any one tell me why it is so important to use a specific kind of worm? I am concerned with the effects of introducing nonnative and possibly invasive organisms into the local environment.

Marcos says:

Dec 19, 2006. 6:08 PM REPLY Worms seem to be fond of certain food groups. If you stocked a bin with earthworms, they might all die, as vegetable scraps are not part of their natural diet. Red Wrigglers (aka Tiger worms) are naturals for this kind of work. You wouldn't want accountants building your house would you? (bracing for comments from handy accountants.. ;-) My conventional compost bin has no bottom, so wee critters are able to move up into the pile. Yep, there are worms in it too, and they are Red Wrigglers that moved in on their own. They are coexisting, presumably happily, with black beetles and sow bugs, not to mention a few billion microbes. Good for you for considering local conditions. You might try making a covered pile on the ground and see who shows up. I got my worms from a local, aged manure pile after getting sticker shock from worm farmers who sell their stock.

mclisa says:

Sep 25, 2006. 6:36 PM REPLY I live in a very hot part of the world. My fancy worm bin wasn't insulated, therefore the worms cooked and the scraps fermented. ewww. Straw bales could be placed around this setup to protect it from heat or freezing. Or just make bins from bales and compost the bales when they're breaking down. I use shredded junk mail for bedding. Thanks, credit card companies!

http://www.instructables.com/id/5-dollar-12-hour-Worm-Composting-Bins/

Pumpkin Pie says:

Oct 16, 2006. 6:33 PM REPLY I made one of these mommas: http://www.klickitatcounty.org/SolidWaste/ContentROne.asp?fContentIdSelected=991251662&fCategoryIdSelected=965105457 and we have it in our kitchen. Doesn't smell and is super convenient. At $18, it costs a little more than the nursery flats (good idea, btw) but is still way less than a garbage disposal and buying fertilizer for the plants. The whole concept makes ALOT of sense. Worms rock.

Marcos says:

Oct 1, 2006. 1:41 PM REPLY I like the straw bale as bin idea! Sounds a little messy, but it would work in a pinch. My bin lives in a small garden shed, and temps here are moderate most of the time. Worms don't eat when they are cold. My sister had a bin in her garage in Oregon, they did not do well at all during Winter. Maybe you could find a spot that's always shady for your bin? If you're in the U.S. a call to Experion and TRW should dry up your supply of unwanted credit card offers. Worked for me. I have a big back of crossshredded (tiny scraps) of paper I got from the Accounting dept. at work. It works great, and I don't have to shred newspaper any more.

mclisa says:

Nov 2, 2006. 6:55 AM REPLY It can get over 110 in the shade here, my worms have died in a swamp-cooled garage and in a barn with misters. The setups which have worked here have had 3 things in common. They've been large, straw bale width (I added a lot of horse manure), in direct contact with the ground, and well insulated. I think it allowed for an inner core which remained cool enough for them. Straw bales have worked great but if I lived in a less rural area bales of mouldering straw might be a liability. Ideally, I'd incorporate it into a garden rotation, let it run for a year, open it up and let chickens and dogs spread it for me. Move the worms to a new pile and use the old bales for mulch. If bales aren't available, maybe several layers of brick or even mounded dirt might do. Or even just a hole in the ground. This year I'm making bin sides out of pallets, covering them with landscape fabric and chicken wire and stuffing them with straw. when it gets hot I'll put bales around them. We'll see how it goes. thanks for the credit refs. If I ever get tired of shredding the offers and throwing them in the bin while squealing with fiendish glee I know what to do.

joe says:
---No flashing lights, bikes or iPods here.--Hey I think you just described all of my projects :) cool idea and nice write up.

Oct 13, 2006. 8:15 AM REPLY

Marcos says:

Oct 1, 2006. 1:45 PM REPLY Thanks to all for your comments and support. It's quite interesting to hear the concerns and priorities of others. The amount of space, access to manufactured goods and money all seem to be key factors with worm bins, and most other similar projects I suppose. Does anyone know if a "Third World" tech group has been started. It might be useful to sort this stuff, worm bins, peanut hullers, etc.

Odziz says:

Sep 11, 2006. 4:10 PM REPLY Marcos: They are called Tiger Worms (hence the stripes) in the UK. Several councils in Kent are using them to save on refuse collection. Its just a converted wheelie bin with a mesh in the bottom to seperate the solids from the liquid. It has a tap on the bottom for the 'liquid' fertiliser. Those worms are veracious little buggers and make short work of what you throw in.

Marcos says:

Oct 1, 2006. 1:36 PM REPLY I looked up "wheelie bin" ;-), now being used in the U.S. now that we've finally gotten a little smarter about refuse collection and recycling. Are they using small ones for worms? How do they get the worms and castings out?

The Full Belly Project says:

Sep 6, 2006. 8:10 AM REPLY To maike this cheaper, say for folks in developing countries who may not have access to molded plastic could you make the same item out of say wooden frames and then a plastic tarp punched with holes in it? Alternativly could something be made out of a flattened oil drum? Buckets also sound good but you probably want something with more surface area. Or do you? Also you probably want to have some sort of cover for the rain. What do you do about overheating? Also most small poor land holding farmers have about 2 hectares of land (about 5 acres), how could you scale this up to meet their needs?

Marcos says:
Roey, see above for some answers to your questions.

Oct 1, 2006. 1:32 PM REPLY

Oil drum, sure, as long as it's previous contents are not toxic to worms or humans. Worms don't like fats at all, and only limited amounts of acid. I put too much orange peel and pulp in my bin in the early days, and there was enough carnage to make me feel guilty for weeks! Covers are good, you also need some ventilation. A few small holes evenly spaced around in the side of a bucket, above worm level should do the trick. Farmers: As I mentioned above, big piles on the ground might do the trick,especially if they were "seeded" with worms to get things started. They might be better off using "hot" compost if they can get a good carbon/nitrogen mix. The advantage to using worms is speed, as Odziz said, "they are voracious little buggers". I'm not an expert on this by any means, just a guy who wanted to try worm composting and did not have the cash or the desire to spend a lot on commercial solutions. I'd love to hear about larger scale ventures, and how they've worked out.

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