Sunday, November 11, 2012

From Worm Farm to Worm Condo

Sometimes you just have to downsize, and that time has come for my worm bin. Hard to believe, but I've been raising worms in a bin that I made from plastic storage containers since 2006! The plans I used to build my original bin are here, and the posts I've done over the years are here. Since relocating to an apartment I am shorter on space, so I've decided to switch to a store-bought worm bin that's more of a "tower" in configuration. They run about $100 online, but after shopping around I got mine plus extra trays/levels for less than that (mostly on Ebay.)

Here's the setup, it even came with a brick of coir and this handy rake.

Cute worms on the lid (in case you forget what's inside :)  I like the shape of the lid too, my cats can't really lay on it comfortably (even if they do, it won't really push down on the worms like the lid with my old bin.)
It has this handy nozzle for draining off leachate, which is filtered by the cloth you see sticking out above. The cloth helps prevent worm drownings, too.
Hole size seems well-suited for worm migrations between levels...
...the holding area for leachate has an adequate capacity as well.
Okay, time for assembly now that my assistant Gizmo is here to help =^^=
For this first tray I decided to put down wet paper towel in the bottom to keep bedding and worms from falling through right away. The leachate should still drain through just fine....
Now I put down a layer of moist coir...
...then I turn to the homemade bin for some wormy tenants.
There they are! The moisture level in this old bin is too high, and that will be addressed later.
So I scooped out a layer of worms and their bedding from the old bin, about 2" deep. I tried to include plenty of un-eaten foodstuff too, so they have something to eat as my newer food scraps break down enough to be edible to the worms.


Then I add a sprinkling of a "fattening mix" of food that I created, based on suggestions from several worm forums. The mix I came up with is: 50% "flock raiser" pelleted chicken feed, 10% unbleached wheat flour, 10% powdered whole milk, 10% wheat germ, 10% crushed eggshells (rinsed and dried before crushing), and 10% corn meal. I would recommend drawing your own conclusions from some research, as I am not an expert or pro by any means.
Then I added another layer of coir....
...followed by some too-soft-to-use potatoes.
I put a few in the old bin too, along with some compostable cellulose packing peanuts. I'd never added these to a worm bin in the past, but I figured that being plant cellulose they can't do any harm (hopefully)!
My new bin will be housed in the bathroom for now, until I can figure out what I want to do with the old bin. I thought I might put it on "Freecycle", but I'm not sure how many more years are left in it. I may just take it back home and dismantle it there.
Then I added corn husks.... grounds....
....and more coir.
Let's see how the worms enjoy their new "digs" (pun intended :)