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Worm Composting Troubleshooting  RSS feed

 
Starr Brainard
Posts: 39
Location: Duluth, MN
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Hello. I have built a three-tiered worm composter out of plastic storage bins. The top bin contains the kitchen waste and worms. That bin and the 2nd have holes drilled into the bottom so worm casting can fall into and be collected in the second layer, and worm tea will drain thourgh to the bottom layer. Have others had luck with these "self-sorting" bins? In my system castings are not falling into the 2nd tier, but aften worms will fall through and then die. Are there tricks to getting these kinds of systems to self-sort the compost, but keep the worms in place? Please let me know. Thanks!
 
Keith Odell
Posts: 68
Location: Indiana
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Starr,

I have not used that type but I don't trust worms to do what experts say they will do. What follows are my thoughts and opinions.

I would use your bottom tote as a worm bin, feed less and add more bedding so that you don't have the excess liquid.

I would then take that compost and worms and put it thru a flow-thru bin. The worms will work the compost again and will make it even better.

I make flow-thru worm bins that will self-harvest out of 11 to 55-gallon trash cans.

Attached should be a picture of a 23-gallon bin. Cut the access area, use wire, PVC, all-thread, conduit, etc. to support a cardboard & newspaper false floor and then add your tote compost.

After 2 to 6 months your compost will build-up enough to be able to remove the false floor and then bin will then start self-harvesting.

Hope this helps.

Keith
23-gallon.jpeg
[Thumbnail for 23-gallon.jpeg]
 
Starr Brainard
Posts: 39
Location: Duluth, MN
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Thanks Keith! Do you have a diagram of your bin design? Are there seperate compartments in your bin?

This is the design I was trying to build:


Has anyone had any luck with this design? Or is it a lost cause?

 
Bryant RedHawk
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I've never heard of anyone that has tried that system having any luck with it working as advertised.

I use a rectangular bin and work one side at a time by using a divider board.
Most folks end up putting to much "food" into their worm bins or they make them to wet.
I put dried leaves, shredded paper that only has soy ink used on it or plain shredded cardboard.
I keep my bin tilted about 2 degrees to the unused side for draining any fluids away from the worms.
I also don't put in a lot of wet foods. Squash and tomatoes are partly dried before I give them to the worms to help control moisture.
 
Keith Odell
Posts: 68
Location: Indiana
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Starr,

No plans. Google 'flow-thru worm bins' and you'll get plenty of images.

My bins.
Cut a hole in the side big enough to get your hand in (it will look and act like a fireplace/chimney).
Put supports across narrow dimension (I use 14-gauge wire, the same color as my bin).
Place cardboard and newspaper (false floor), across the supports.
Add worms, compost, bedding and food.
Check on food and moisture levels. Add as necessary. These tend to dry out due to air moving up the "chimney".
After several months the compost level will be high enough that the false floor can be removed and the compost will self-harvest.
 
Ronnie Ugulano
Posts: 54
Location: Zone 9, CA
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I agree with Keith Odell. Worms don't always do what we tell them to. Mostly, they go up, not down, but they prefer to do what they jolly well want. If they think there's enough food and moisture where they are, they won't go anywhere. Younger worms are more likely to move to the newest, groovin'est place. Older worms are more likely to kick back for a while longer before they feel obligated to pack up and move on. I've found many a fat, lonely worm lounging around on a bin bottom or in a corner, not realizing that it wasn't keeping up with the program, and not caring.

I mostly work my bins side to side, and I don't be in a hurry while I'm at it, because they sure won't be. If my bins start getting really full, I'll start feeding more on one side than another, and eventually only on the one side. The worms will eventually get the idea. Once they do, I'll harvest the compost on the side I haven't been feeding on, until I get to where the worms are. Then I fill that empty side and start over. When it's time to harvest compost again, I'll feed the other side, and harvest from the side I didn't the last time. But I let them set the pace.
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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Keith Odell wrote:Starr,

No plans.  Google 'flow-thru worm bins' and you'll get plenty of images. 

My bins.
Cut a hole in the side big enough to get your hand in (it will look and act like a fireplace/chimney).
Put supports across narrow dimension (I use 14-gauge wire, the same color as my bin).
Place cardboard and newspaper (false floor), across the supports.
Add worms, compost, bedding and food.
Check on food and moisture levels.  Add as necessary.  These tend to dry out due to air moving up the "chimney".
After several months the compost level will be high enough that the false floor can be removed and the compost will self-harvest.


I'm just getting it that separating worm bin from regular compost pile makes sense in an urban context, and want to concentrate on having our compost pile be mostly leaf and plant scraps.  So, then the worm bin.

I will google "Flow-thru worm bin" but I wanted a bit of help with other vocab here, and I think other people will also find it helpful:

what does "compost self-harvest" mean? how do you get the compost out in this design--is that just a matter of reaching in the bottom with a hand and pulling it out?

Thanks team!
 
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