Good bin to avoid overheating

randall_n(7)January 31, 2013

I've been using a plastic stacking system (Worm Factory) for about 6 months now. I wish I'd read this forum first, because I probably wouldn't have picked that system. I got a bunch of extra trays for it too -- I've got 8 trays going right now in a big tower.

It works OK, except for one really big problem -- overheating. Yes, even right now in winter I am having occasional overheating problems, just because of the volume of veggie scraps we produce. We probably produce on average 2-3 lbs/day, plus coffee grounds. I don't chop the scraps super small. I just freeze them for a few days and then put them in the bin. When I'm having overheating problems, I put them in still frozen, which helps somewhat. When it does overheat, the worms stay away from the top 2-3 trays and an odor problem develops. It basically becomes a normal (non-worm) compost pile until it cools down.

The bin stays in the garage right now, and when things warm up here in North Carolina, it's going to get to be a real problem. I can't bring it inside into air conditioning, because even inside it will overheat and stink and my wife will commit mass wormicide.

I am thinking the problem is that even though I can make this system tall enough to handle the volume, the small surface area leads to the overheating. So I'm thinking of building a DIY wooden flow-through system of some sort that has a lot more surface area -- maybe something like 2'x4'. Would that help? Can I leave that in the garage year-round? The garage has a moderate temperature in the winter (rarely below 40F) but gets quite hot in summer (95F I'm guessing). I am not likely to be able to bring something that big inside, and outside is not going to be any better in the summer.

Any other suggestions?

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Maybe you just need chickens. With that volume maybe break the eight trays into two piles to keep it cooler. "volume of veggie scraps" perhaps we can decrease the volume of veggie scraps. Methods I can think of is scrap only the bottom unclean 1/4 inch of celery and carrots. If a whole inch or two still needs need to come off then that part is maybe not good enough for a salad but still good enough to toss those into the crock pot to make stock. Or into the juicer for fresh juice. Do you garden? Is an outside compost or start to the bottom layer of a lazaignia garden possible?

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 1:48AM
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You can get one of those tumbler type plastic compost bins to pre-compost the veggie scraps. Then as food is consumed by the worms, replenish the food from the external tumbler bin. Thus, you don't overload the worm bin with food.

Just a thought...

Question: what do you do with your vermicompost?

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 7:57AM
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I'd thought about splitting the 8 trays into two stacks of 4. I only have one base and one lid, but I could probably rig something up. I might try that. Pre-composting might help, but I'll be darned if I'm going to lay down another $100+ for another hunk of plastic in the name of composting. I already regret buying this tray system. But, I'm sure I could just keep a bucket on the back porch for pre-composting.

Still, I like the idea of the flow-though for a lot of reasons. I just worry that my garage is going to be too hot for any type of bin, no matter how well it dissipates heat. Has anybody actually tried this, or a straight outdoor bin, in a warm climate? (I'm in NC.)

Oh, and I'm using the finished compost in my raised beds and lawn.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 9:22PM
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Good luck.

You could just use a 5 gallon bucket to precompost your need to buy anything.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 12:46PM
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