Opinions on lateral flow thru bin

sallidz5February 26, 2010

I read on a vermicomposting forum of a lateral method where the plastic bin was divided by a metal cookie cooling rack and the worms were kept and fed in bedding on just one side. When it came time to harvest compost, he stopped feeding, and prepared bedding on the opposite side, then started feeding on the new side up against the cookie rack to lure the worms to transition over to the new side. Once the worms moved, he was able to harvest compost with very few worms to separate.

Has anyone tried this method? It seems like a lot less work than dumping & forcing them to shrink from the light and sorting. I have a jillion worms and don't relish the idea of spending an entire afternoon (and evening) sorting. Much of the compost is very dense and paste like and just loaded w/worms of all sizes.

I want to start another bin or two in hopes that I can compost more scraps than I am now. But, at the same time prefer a laissez faire (sp) approach. It's working so far.

My bins are indoors in Maine.

Thanks for you opinions/input.

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I have read that worms continue to do well in vermicastings for 9 months after no further additions.

The worms moving over is a good thing. But eggs have no wiggle to move over. And they are very tiny when first hatched. Can you give them time to move over to the good stuff? They may be the majority of your worm numbers.

I hope you are adding tons of egg carton and cardboard to the new side. This may draw off some of the moisture from the paste and encourage one reflowthrough of the worm of the paste to make a nice friable cast. Like wet cigarette tobacco. The added bedding will also add air into the process. Worms love air and wet mixed. I think that is why they like the tiny spaces under heavy objects in bins. It is the wet air they want.

The reason some wade through a bin with a tri fork is curiosity and to gain an understanding of where the worms like to be and how things are decomposing. But you seem to of done excellent since you have tons of worms of every size.

Did you buy worms online or harvest wild compost worms?

Did you design and build your own lateral flow thru bin?

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 3:09AM
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My lazy method is stacking bins, the only drawback being that you have to lift heavy bins from time to time. I allow 3 months for the worms to migrate. By that time I have nearly pure castings with almost no worms in them.

There is a commercially built worm bin called Worm-A-Roo that uses a lateral harvesting method. Lateral harvesting seems to work pretty well.

Here is a link that might be useful: Worm Digest review of the Worm-A-Roo

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 10:42AM
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boreal_wormer(Alta Canada)

Hi sallidz5

I believe you're referring to my system (link below). It works for me and is definitely a low maintenance approach. I am not interested in a quick turn around for production of worms or vermicompost and so can let the 'idle' side sit for 16 weeks before harvesting.

This seems to be enough time for any eggs to hatch and for most worms to migrate over (there are always a few stragglers). I just completed a harvest and only found a dozen or so worms in the vermicastings.

This bin is almost 6 years old and is working fine. I only add about 600 grams of kitchen scraps weekly.

Looks like I'll have to replace the metal cookie cooling rack eventually as it's starting to rust through.

Here is a link that might be useful: My lateral flow thru bin

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 12:39PM
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Thanks, everyone! Yes, boreal, you are correct it was your post. I couldn't remember if I came across it on GW or elsewhere.
I am going to proceed with your method as soon as I can find the cookie racks or something similar. It seems like a simple errand but, so far I've been to 4 stores and all the racks are the stacking type. My hope is to find the lightweight cheapies that come as a pair. That way, I can use them like bypass doors and adjust them to fit the width of the bins and secure them together with cable ties.
My plan is to divide the worms and place them in one side of two bins and let the lateral move begin. I'm willing to let them take their time.
@ equinoxequinox: I bought a "pound" of red worms from a local wormer but was disappointed at the amount of worms in relation to the compost, egg shells, corn cobs, etc. I was impatient with the amount I could feed them so I bought 500 red wigglers from Gardens Alive.

Since I first posted this, I've had an explosion of pot worms (where do they come from anyway?) and some little flies that are a little larger than fruit flies & fungus gnats and hop a couple of times before they go on short flights. Anyone know what they are?

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 10:29PM
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