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Vermicomposting: Worm bins blueprints.

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kenboy
Big Sandy, TX
(Zone 8a)

December 20, 2009
2:59 PM

Post #7384746

Hello,

I am new to worms and would like to jump in with both feet. I live on one acre of very pure red clay. I have composted for several years in a big way and have watched my worm count go up every year. I have had chickens for years that scratch around and fine worms but still they multiply. We now have a nursery and sell a lot of plants right out of our yard. I would like to build some worm bins from material I have so I can use the castings and hopefully add more worms to new areas we are using to grow plants. The chickens are going to be pined because they destroy potted plants on benches. We have a hoophouse and would like to raise the worms in there through the Winter. I would like to use worms from our area so I can just dump them on the ground and let them do their thing. I am not in a hurry to build the bins, just want to get them right the first time. Thanks.

I use chickens to hatch my peafowl. Hope you enjoy.

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lonejack
Longview, WA
(Zone 8b)

December 21, 2009
10:25 PM

Post #7388790

Hi kenboy,
Here is a kitchen worm bucket I built. You could use the same idea as I used on the inside bucket, only use 1/2 plastic 55 gal barrel. You would need to mount legs on the
barrel about 24" in the air. I have been meaning to build a worm bin out of a 55 gal barrell but I got sick and my kids got rid of my barrels. I will have to start over.

The idea behind the wires in the bottom of the barrel is to allow you to scratch out the worm castings without having to disturb the worms. The worms live in top three or four inches of the bin. As they process the material it is forced down by the fresh stuff added to the top.
Paul.

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lonejack
Longview, WA
(Zone 8b)

December 21, 2009
10:27 PM

Post #7388796

Cutting the bottom of the bucket.

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lonejack
Longview, WA
(Zone 8b)

December 21, 2009
10:28 PM

Post #7388798

Drilling holes for the wire.

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lonejack
Longview, WA
(Zone 8b)

December 21, 2009
10:30 PM

Post #7388802

Adding the wire.

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lonejack
Longview, WA
(Zone 8b)

December 21, 2009
10:34 PM

Post #7388807

The finished product, except I removed the outer or bottom bucket handle and braided a longer rope handle so it would be easier to carry. The only reason for the outer bucket is to catch any liquid and stray worms that may leak out of the inner bucket.

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kenboy
Big Sandy, TX
(Zone 8a)

December 22, 2009
1:07 AM

Post #7389237

Thanks for your help Paul. I am looking to build something out of wood with stackable trays. After I get going on this I will probably build several of these so I can increase production. I was thinking of building trays and stapling hardware cloth on the bottom but was wondering what size to use. I was worried that the worms would fall through the bottom if I used to too large a size. I don't see how you can keep worms in your bucket, with nothing on the bottom but wires running back and forth but there is a lot I do not know about raising worms. How high do you pile paper or straw so I'll know how high to make the trays. The trays in the kits that I have seen only look to be three or four inches. I build boat dock and often have to tear down the old one, so I have a lot of old but good lumber. I also compost big time. I work in a gated community where lots of people bag their leaves and I pick them up by the thousands. One year a kept records on how many i gathered and it was around 6,000. Last years compost pile is 30' X 20'. I just let it break down for a year or two and then mulch ever inch of my yard. So I would like to use a lot of leaves and chicken poop to feed my worms and kitchen scraps, of course. Thanks again.
lonejack
Longview, WA
(Zone 8b)

December 22, 2009
6:13 AM

Post #7389930

Hi Kenboy,
If you build bins with racks you won't be able to lift them without some kind of hoist.
Damp dirt gets very heavy very quickly. 8" deep trays more than 24" square will be too cumbersome. That is why the kits you see are only 4" deep and not more than 24" square.

By using a bottom dump or access bin you don't have to go through the process of separating the worms from their castings.

Somewhere I saw a large continuous conveyor system that constantly moves the worm bedding outword, inches per day until the bedding drops off the end. The worms are always up at the top of the conveyor where the fresh food is located.
Again, the worms live in the top 3 or 4" of the bin.

I use some newspaper on the wire for about the first month. Then I have one of these garden claws that I rake along the wires. The combination of the Choir or other materials clump together enough to keep from falling through. Yes, you will get some worms crawl out but you can put a light under your bin and they will crawl away from it, upward.
You will rake some worms out but you can just return them back to the bin.

I picked up an old blender at a 2nd hand store for under $5.00 so I just blend the kitchen scraps when I get a bucket full. I use enough water to allow the blender to work efficiently. When finished blending I pour the material into a large 5 gal bucket, put on the lid and let it sit for a couple of weeks to ferment.
Then I mix the slurry with enough paper shreds to make it form a clump but you can't ring out any water. The worms love the fermented slurry and shredded paper.

You could use your leaves to mix with the slurry and then let the whole thing sit for a couple of weeks. Worms eat the decomposed food. If you put raw food in your bin,
the worms won't eat it until it has decomposed to a form where they can eat it.
They can't eat whole apples but they love the slime that happens when the apple has
rotted.
kenboy
Big Sandy, TX
(Zone 8a)

December 22, 2009
2:43 PM

Post #7390430

Morning Paul,

I really do appreciate you helping me through my planning stages of my worm farming. I do understand that worms stay in the top of their bins. When I pick up the peacock feed buckets there is always lots of worms in the dirt that is stuck to the bottom of the bucket and at the top of the soil under the bucket. I also know that they will dive deeper when they get cold. I know I can pick out the ones that drop to the bottom of the bins and if I loose a few that crawl out and go back to the earth, that's OK too. The racks do not need to be all that large, I can always build more and have several going at the same time. What size hardware cloth would you recommend using at the bottom? You say that you use some newspaper on the bottom for a month, does that not prevent the castings from falling down?
I will be first working on the design and then work on the process once it is built. When it is built I will be taking pictures of the bins and posting on our web-site so others can use. I have a web-site for peafowl where I have plans for an incubator. Maggi is working on adding one for our nursery also. I will probably only be working on one bin for this Winter until I learn what works for me, then would love to build a larger system outside for this Summer. Thanks again.
mraider3
Helena, MT

December 22, 2009
3:03 PM

Post #7390474

"I picked up an old blender at a 2nd hand store for under $5.00 so I just blend the kitchen scraps when I get a bucket full. I use enough water to allow the blender to work efficiently. When finished blending I pour the material into a large 5 gal bucket, put on the lid and let it sit for a couple of weeks to ferment.
Then I mix the slurry with enough paper shreds to make it form a clump but you can't ring out any water. The worms love the fermented slurry and shredded paper."

lonejack, I owe you an appology. I wasn't meaning to stomp on your turf, but I just posted a similar statement on another recent thread here before reading this one...very sorry.

I'm certain it was your comments that got me started with this method of feeding and I can attest that it works great! Worms go through this emulsion in half the time of direct feeding. I feed each bin twice a week now instead of once. The only thing I add to the scraps when I initially blend is some black strap molasses. Coffee grounds and egg shells are added to the ferminted emulsion for a quick blend before feeding.

kenboy
Big Sandy, TX
(Zone 8a)

December 26, 2009
5:59 PM

Post #7399675

I would still like to know what is the best size hardware cloth to use for the bottom of the bins? What size do they use on the store bought plastic ones? Thanks.
lonejack
Longview, WA
(Zone 8b)

January 24, 2010
7:38 AM

Post #7490759

Kenboy,
I'm sorry I haven't been back to this post. I have been lurking in others areas and not watching this one.
To answer your question, I don't think you can get hardware cloth small enough to work.
The worms can easily crawl through window screen sized holes. I would recommend stainless window screen sized cloth. I know it is expensive but you will only have to buy it once.
There is a commercial worm operation here in Oregon that uses a contraption similar to a huge chain saw to move under the worm beds once a week and scrape the castings.
They feed composted manure on the top and scrape the castings out the bottom, never having to disturb the worms. This is where I got the idea for my kitchen buckets.
Paul.

This message was edited Jan 23, 2010 11:39 PM

This message was edited Jan 23, 2010 11:39 PM

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