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I wanted to link to my latest blog post about building a worm bin, since there have been multiple discussions on this forum about using worm castings to create a tea for treating plants in an aquaponic system. This is my first worm box, but I'm looking forward to being able to make some worm tea next spring...

If you're interested in reading how to make a worm box, or to give advice on what I am doing right/wrong, you can find my blog post here: http://www.whatisaquaponics.co/how-to-make-a-worm-bin/

Enjoy :-) 

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i have made several beds the one that is working best is built like a wicking bed in half of 55 gallon barrel. also put worms in 4 wicking beds with plants growing fast i use water from f/t to water them i have carrots radishes watermelon tomatos and squash in them. also cantalope strawberrys and herbs in ap beds

I've been planning to make some wicking beds myself. But are you adding food scraps to your wicking beds, or just have a separate bed you use for growing worms?

Hi Daniel,

  Glad you are trying to get the word out on the easy process and benefits of vermicomposting.  I'd like to give you a few pointers on your post on your blog. 

- This type of bin is VERY simple to make and really requires no extra hardware.  This is an unneeded expense. One statement you made in your blog in reference to drain holes is: 'This is not strictly needed..'  If you want a successful vermicomposting bin, drain holes ARE needed. The 2 inch drain hole is way too big. You will end up losing redworms and cocoons through this hole, and  depending on how/where you place the bin, vermin (etc.) can enter.  If you put a mesh on it, you will end up with it plugged (losing adequate drainage), negating what was intended to be accomplished in the first place with the hole.  What you really need are a LOT of pencil eraser sized holes ALL over the bin, top, sides and bottom.  The reason for this is for drainage and aeration.  Having holes at the top and bottom do allow for some aeration, but you really need holes all over the sides to avoid developing anaerobic pockets, and to help the vermicomposting process along.  There is no need to use uniseals.  Holes can be drilled, but also melted (using even a metal skewer or other metal kitchen implement heated on a stove). The fact that you used what you have on hand is great though. In a properly managed vermicomposting bin with Eisenia fetida in it, you will not have redworms escaping the  many holes.

    - Cheese cloth on the lid...You might want to re-think that for a few reasons.  It is very simple to just make holes.  If you properly bury the food you add in the bin and cover it with 2 inches of bedding each time you add food, you will not have insects invading your redworm bin.  Redworm bins, especially plastic ones, have a tendency to develop some condensation on the inside (no matter how well ventilated).  This moisture can lead to developing mold on the cheese cloth in your bin.  Cheese cloth will also absorb odors.  A properly managed redworm bin does not emit any offensive odors, but one that has mold built up in the lid and on the vents WILL smell...And the slight odors that you would not normally detect from a bin will build up in the cheese cloth and it WILL be detected then. (Caps are for emphasis only - I am not yelling).

      I applaud you in your willingness to get the word out on vermicomposting.  Hopefully these tips will give you a few ideas in your vermicomposting adventure.

  Wishing you much success and lots of worm castings in your future!

- Converse

Always glad for your expert advice Converse. I have the drain pipe capped, so no worms can escape - it is just for periodic removal of the leachate. I made the comment that drain holes are not strictly needed because I figured I could always dump the bin over to drain extra water - but regardless, I'm glad to know I did the right thing by including one on the front end. It had not occurred to me about mold developing on the cheesecloth, so I will re-think this.

A question though on the additional small holes on the top/sides/bottom - I did not want to add extra holes because I wanted the flexibility to bring the box indoors during the winter if needed; If I have holes along the sides, wouldn't they leak and/or occasional worm make an escape? I'm already on strict orders from my wife that she will help collect food scraps as long as she never needs to see the worms ;-) so I don't want to jeopardize my arrangement. haha. If this box goes well, I'd like to make a larger outdoor box with a flow-through type basis (i.e. add food to top, collect vermicompost from the bottom), in which case extra ventilation holes could be included with no problems. 

 How often would you open the drain plug?  Seems like just 'one more thing' to do that is not necessary.  You do not want any pooling of leachate in your bin.  That can start fermentation process (anaerobic) and smell. 

   We have had a redworm bin in our livingroom behind our recliner for years.  No one ever knew it was there. No "jail breaks" either.    The best place for a bin (10 gallon size works best) is in the cabinet under the kitchen sink. .Conveniently placed so it will be used, but out of sight. No smell. No leaks. No escapes. 

 - Converse

You've nailed it on the 'one more thing' list - I certainly don't want to be adding to my to-do list. I'll add some additional ventilation holes and see how it goes. I like the idea of under the kitchen sink too - I like to plan for efficiency and effectiveness, and having the bin under the sink would increase the efficiency greatly!

 

Thanks again!

The only time worms try to escape from your bin is if there is something they're trying to escape from. Conditions in the bin got bad for worms or maybe a mole got in there...things of that nature :)

Daniel said:

Always glad for your expert advice Converse. I have the drain pipe capped, so no worms can escape - it is just for periodic removal of the leachate. I made the comment that drain holes are not strictly needed because I figured I could always dump the bin over to drain extra water - but regardless, I'm glad to know I did the right thing by including one on the front end. It had not occurred to me about mold developing on the cheesecloth, so I will re-think this.

A question though on the additional small holes on the top/sides/bottom - I did not want to add extra holes because I wanted the flexibility to bring the box indoors during the winter if needed; If I have holes along the sides, wouldn't they leak and/or occasional worm make an escape? I'm already on strict orders from my wife that she will help collect food scraps as long as she never needs to see the worms ;-) so I don't want to jeopardize my arrangement. haha. If this box goes well, I'd like to make a larger outdoor box with a flow-through type basis (i.e. add food to top, collect vermicompost from the bottom), in which case extra ventilation holes could be included with no problems. 

Here is a link to a class on vermiculture by Rhonda Sherman at NC State University.She is one of the foremost worm experts. Kinda long but might be worth a watch.

http://mediasite.online.ncsu.edu/online/Play/ac1df0dc7d7b42169b0574...

That looks like a great link Mark! I'll have to take a look at it again when I have a block of time to watch.

 

By the way, I've added an update to the end of my blog post to address some of these comments.

This is a link to one of the better vermicomposting sites I have ever sound on the net.

I have not been active for a long time now but here is a link to my profile. You can look at the pics I posted and see my methods from what I posted. http://vermicomposters.ning.com/profile/PatJames238

I have found alot of people try to re-invent the wheel when dealing with worms. That or they repeat advice and 'rules' that really are not necessary.Like a guy who used to frequent the site often said..." Worms is EASY!!!"

One word of advice I have is look at what you want from your worm system. I personally collect and hold 60 gallons of carefully sifted castings for the start of each spring growing season. I use worm castings as seed starting media and as fertilizer. To that end, I have developed an easy way to collect those castings. I do this with just kitchen scraps, newspapers and other paper products that would have gone into the trash and this year algae/ fish funk I skim from my AP system. The latter goes into the bin in my garage.

Thanks for the link Pat. Looks like you built an awesome flow through vermicomposting system. I think I'll eventually try making a FT system with an extra 55gal barrel I have on hand.

My big wooden flow thru is made from mainly scrap lumber I scrounged when a roof was repaired. I made a couple other ft's from tidy cat litter containers. Both work fairly well. The main thing is if you want to sift the compost for castings, you need a system for that. No matter how long the stuff stays in the worm bin, alot is still unfinished-good stuff mixed with bad. I simply sift it and return the larger material to the bin.

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