Considering starting a worm bin - advice for a newbie?

metaphoraApril 8, 2013

Hi all,

I finally got a community garden plot this year (in DC). Sadly, the compost bins at the garden seem poorly maintained and also don't allow kitchen trash, so I'm considering starting up a worm bin to recycle our kitchen waste, which includes a considerable amount of coffee grounds.

Does anyone have any advice they'd like to pass on? Things you wish you knew when starting? Is there any reason why I shouldn't start a worm bin? It seems super simple, provided I don't let things get too wet or dry, right? I live in a small apt, so space is an issue. For this reason, I'm leaning towards a tiered set of bins.

Also, this may seem like a silly question, but I've seen several posts about worms trying to escape their bins -- does this mean I could possibly wake up one morning and find worms all over the place? Laugh if you will, but I'd just like to be prepared for this, if it is actually a possibility. :-)

THanks!

Nataline

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equinoxequinox

"Is there any reason why I shouldn't start a worm bin? It seems super simple"

ROFL :-) That is a good one.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 1:45PM
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sbryce_gw

Will the worms escape? A few will try. It will not be unusual to wake up to find one or two gasping for breathe on the floor. But worms will not be the only critters in the bin that won't stay put. In time you may find yourself cleaning up after fruit flies, fungus gnats and psuedo-scorpions. Worm bins can be a messy endeavor.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 1:42AM
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equinoxequinox

An example: Today I added some water to my bin. I messed up and did not open the cover the whole way so some fruit flies would not escape. As a result a bunch of water went over the side forming a quickly expanding puddle on the floor. I had to rearrange heavy things in the cellar so they would not get wet. It was not yet 6 AM.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 6:05AM
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gerris2

Reading to teach yourself is good practice. Get the book titled Worms Eat My Garbage by Mary Appelhof from the public library. Another one which I found fascinating was Teaming With Microbes.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 11:34AM
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metaphora

heh, ok, so I should plan on things getting a little messy. I also posted on FB and turns out a LOT of my friends have worm boxes, so I'm gonna give it a shot.

Thinking about making my own tiered set with some plastic shoe boxes, but was wondering if anyone out there had tried stacked drawers. Would the extra "floor" between the drawers confuse the worms?

Here is a link that might be useful: stacked drawers

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 11:58AM
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sbryce_gw

Shoe boxes are awfully small for a worm bin. Small bins are hard to manage. And the drawers will be difficult to deal with. I don't know what the worms will think, but you will probably wish you had used something different.

The container of choice for most of us is Rubbermaid totes. Go for about 2 sq ft of surface, and at least 8 inches of depth.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 1:09AM
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Shaul(Israel)

Don't waste your time borrowing books from the Library. Look what we've got here: 67 pages X 30 topics per page = 2010 topics on every aspect of raising Compost Worms. Learn to use the search function and ask questions as you go. You will be more informed and your questions will be more to the point. You ask for advice. Well, advice has been handed down through 2010 Topics. It's time to start doing your homework.

Shaul

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 3:19PM
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gerris2

Yes, I'll admit there are pearls of wisdom - good luck sorting them out.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 4:50PM
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Shaul(Israel)

Yes Joseph, he can start with yours. If nothing else, at least he'll learn the value of using worm castings to grow gorgeous Morning Glories.
I've been raising Compost Worms for 3.5 years and I've experienced every kind of problem that people write about. Over the years, I've read and written on multiple forums and I'm constantly experimenting, trying to improve the system. But to say that I've got it 100% right is still far from the truth. Even though I've got 1/2" holes drilled all around the sides of my bins (for air flow) and a decent breeze blowing most of the year, when the barometer drops, the worms still head for the exits (they pass the air holes and cluster at the top of the bin). Go figure.

Shaul

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 1:13AM
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sbryce_gw

Do borrow the book from the library. There is a lot of information here (and a lot of mis-information) but Worms Eat My Garbage has all the basics in one place in a well organized format. That gives the book a big advantage over this forum.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 1:49PM
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chuckiebtoo

I use shoebox-sized plastic bins...as well as large plastic totes. I prefer the smaller bins. Much easier to deal with.

The worms could care less about the size of the bins....until they get too crowded and quit propagating.

I notice no difference in bin viability and production with any sizes. Just be aware of the populations of them.

Chuckiebtoo

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 8:34PM
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chuckiebtoo

Alzeheimers?

This post was edited by chuckiebtoo on Sat, Apr 20, 13 at 10:16

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 7:34AM
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priswell(9 CA)

As far as advice goes: Don't overfeed or overwater. Be aware of what the worms are consuming and don't get ahead of them, or the bins, whatever their size will become unbalanced and you'll start growing things in there that you do not want.

Also, once you get used to having worms and knowing their eating patterns, you'll realize that they enjoy benevolent neglect, pretty much feed them and leave them alone. They'll put up with disturbances better than other kinds of worms, but they like it when they're mostly left to their own devices. ;-)

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 9:24AM
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chuckiebtoo

Amen, Priswell, amen!

Chuckiebtoo

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 10:11AM
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robertz6

Maybe don't do too much of any one thing?

No huge amount of citrus at one time?
No large amount of watermelon at one time? (Too wet)

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 5:12PM
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bjelk

I started vermicomposting a month ago with a worm factory 360. I it is a set of stacking trays that don't take up a lot of room, are well ventilated and it comes with everything you need. I ordered my worms from a local company and everything is going well. They are in my basement, there is no odor, and the worms are multiplying and making compost. I take the time to chop up the food and I freeze it first - and then defrost it. That kills any fruit fly larvae that were on the food and so far, no critters other than my worms. They like cantaloupe, squash and watermelon and damp cardboard a lot. I am sorry I never did this before, as I am having a great time, and am making great compost. Good luck.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 3:09PM
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hummersteve

Another newbie here and I wanted to start a worm bin. I believe I have looked at every option and vid on you tube on the subject. I started with the idea of 5gal buckets and have decided on the flat tub method as a start. I changed from the bucket with the thought that red wigglers like to stay in the top 3" of soil. I may like to add one more tub to what I have. IM also thinking my holes might not be big enough. These tubs are 24x18x7"

As a raiser of cuttings and seedling I have had my bouts with fungus gnats and know they will find the soil and breed regardless of the layering of shredded paper. Anyway heres what I have started , found these at rural king. Any thoughts/suggestions are welcome.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 12:45PM
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11otis

It might be a good idea to line the sides with corrugated cardboard to block the light and it will help absorb excess moisture. It is easier to mist water on the surface of the bin rather than extracting water from a too wet bin. You may keep the bottom bin w/o cardboard lining to discourage worms coming/staying down.
Don't panic if you find worms on the underside of the lid because of condensation. Just wait and see before youstart drilling or cutting the lid.
Whenever I converted a bucket or tote into a worms bin, I find it easier to make 1 big hole and attach weed cloth to it. One problem with the container material is however to find adhesive that will stick. I used double sided tape on some and on others when I only kept the rim of the lid, I cut a bigger piece of weed cloth so it get over the entire top of the bin and just jammed the lid on it.
Hope this gives you some ideas. Welcome and good luck.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 1:26PM
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hummersteve

Otis

Thanks for the recommendations all good ideas. I have this bin in a large closet and the light is turned on to take the photo but otherwise its quite dark in there. So If I find worms under the lid it is too moist , thanks. Im thinking of drilling larger holes for airation and put screening over that which should also cut down on condensation. So here goes nothing, I will be back on here from time to time. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 3:43PM
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