deep or shallow bin?

Sinking Spring, PA

it seems as if the deep bins will require less maintenance over time as you just let the worms keep rising toward the food but a lot of people like the shallow bins because "reds live in the superficial layers". what do you guys use and why? thanks for any info.

Land O' Lakes, FL(Zone 9b)

Since most of us use red-wigglers (Eisenia fetida), shallow bins are best. These worms only actively work the top handful of inches. So what you want to focus on is the surface area.

If you were using nightcrawlers or whatever, they'd be able to make better use out of a deep container, but I assume they would be less efficient in terms of vermicomposting.

Sinking Spring, PA

yes, but why not start shallow (in a deep bin) and then, over time as you add more material, utilize the depth of the bin? if you use a shallow bin, you have to change out the worms more often, right? the only drawback to a larger bin that i can see is the weight once it gets more full. anyone else have a thought?

i think surface area is important, but why not utilize surface are and depth like the large industrial systems?

just wondering what everyone else does and why. thanks for any input.

Land O' Lakes, FL(Zone 9b)

So you mean start with the deep bin barely full and then just keep piling on more stuff as the worms go through it?

I don't see any reason why that wouldn't work.

You might even be able to periodically sift it with a cat-litter scoop or whatever to get any large pieces of uneaten fruit/veggies (and whatever worms get caught as well) to put back into the top layer before adding more to the top. Depending on how deep you're going, the bottom layers might get fairly compacted, but -- hopefully -- the worms will be smart enough to get out of there before it becomes an issue ;)

I have three bins right now, each maybe 20" or so deep but fairly wide and long. I went with that size mainly just so while the bins are on their stands, it's at a comfortable level when I'm adding scraps but so I could also sit down next to them (or with the bin on my lap) during the sorting out of worms and castings.

Go with whatever size makes the most sense for you :)

San Diego, CA(Zone 10a)

Seems like shallow is best. When I did the bin within a bin (see my post under home made bins), they were actually on the surface between the two bins. Now I am feeding them in the inner bin, and it is pretty much full of worms. You can just sort of tell when the lower section is full of digested material. It gets black. Then I think the worms like to go to "cleaner" areas with bedding and fresh manure and dirt.

Sinking Spring, PA

ultimately, i think either way is fine. when you think about it, isn't the earth a deep bin design?

Cherry Grove, OH(Zone 6b)

I alternate two deep outside bins (3 ft. diameter black plastic barrels on their sides) in zone 6b. My worms survive through the winter and flourish. I have so many worms I don't bother to screen them out when we add the compost to the garden. I just leave a few shovels full in the barrel and start adding the next cycle's kitchen scraps and garden debris. Every spring I have one full barrel ready to spread in the garden and then second barrel ready about mid summer. Between the black soldier flies and the mass of worms we manage to turn our heavy clay into incredibly fertile soil.

I tumble the barrels every week, and the worms migrate to their temperature comfort zone. Deep compost beds work well outside, they maintain a fairly consistent temperature and allow for worms, soldier flies, as well as composting fungus and bacteria to exist all in the same pile, year round. Seeing soldier fly larvae in December and hundreds of little red worms in the heat of July is a great sign of a successful compost bin.

Bronson, FL

I have a 4ftx4ft square that is about 18" deep. What I do because I harvest castings is fill it up to the top and turn maybe once every couple of months when the material is cut in half (from the vermicomposting) I rake it all to one side so I can harvest castings from that side and then I fill up the other side with new materials and the worms migrate over to the other side! Mine is just made out of scrap wood that was laying around and its directly on the ground. Mine are flourishing. I use composted manure as my base material and add scraps to that.

Provo, UT(Zone 5a)

i agree with a "somewhat" shallow using rubbermaid tubs.. 37gal ones..
they are 24"tall but the medium is only 10+" deep at any time.. deepest when i
add more bedding material.. the worms sure digest the food and bedding fast..
if i went with new bins..which im sure im yeasssssssss away from that.. i would probably
go with 16"or so deep bins.. just taking up less space..

Athens, GA

For a couple of years, I grew my worms in a 4' x 8' x 2' bin on the ground made w/ cinderblocks. I had hardware cloth on the ground to prevent moles from robbing me. I kept a 4x8 sheet of plywood over the top of the bin to keep out other critters. This worked well until the moles figured out how to get in the bin. On two seperate occasions, i opened the bin to find a fat and happy mole in there. I couldn't figure out how they were getting into the bin, and my worm population was declining so rapidly that i had to buy more worms to replenish.

I had two 37 Gal rubbermaid garbage cans, so i put all of my bedding and worms into those, and put them up on blocks. The bedding material (shredded newspaper) is about 2 feet deep now, and i add more as needed. I drilled a few small holes in the bottom of each bin, and put a bucket underneath to catch the 'compost tea' after i water them. I use this compost tea in my garden with very good results. I realized that when i had the worms in the ground bin that my garden didn't benefit at all from the water that i added to it. This way, I don't have to battle with the moles either. So my .02 cents worth on the deep/shallow bin design is that it doesn't matter that much as long as you keep the conditions suitable for them (ie temp, moisture, ph, bedding, and of course food). When i dig down through my cans now, i find worms down deep, but most are found in the upper 6 inches or so.

Oh yeah, one other thing that i've done which seems to really help is when i add water to the bin, i mix about a Tbsp/Gal of unsulphered molasis to the water, and water them about once a week. They are thriving!

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