Newbie: Bins? Indoors or out? And vacation?

vermipranoApril 17, 2012

I have spent the past week reading this forum obsessively. So much information and I thank you all so much for sharing your experiences. It has been so helpful!

I am ready to set up shop, but have actually had a problem finding appropriate bins. We have settled on a DIY FT bin system with three nesting bins. I have been all over this area and the only bins I can find nest all the way down into each other, leaving maybe only an inch of space in between them. I've been to Target, Lowes, Home Depot and Walmart. Where else is there to look? If you have set up a bin system, I would really love to know what name brand of bins you got and where you found them.

The next issue we are having a hard time coming to an agreement on is whether to have them outside or in. We don't have an ideal place indoors where I can insure that my very curious 2 year old wouldn't have his way with them. We live in Dallas so the summers are BRUTAL. We have had BSF larvae in a black tumbler in the backyard the past two years and they didn't seem to mind the record heat. Are red wigglers as hardy? (Fyi, our garage is not really an option as far as shelter from the heat, as it positively BAKES in there.) I have found such completely conflicting information across the internet as to whether you can vermicompost outdoors in TX, so any guidance or personal experiences would be greatly appreciated.

My next question somewhat relates to the last one. We are going on vacation in June for 9 days. It's not USUALLY incredibly hot the first week of June, but this has been an extremely mild winter and a very warm and early spring, so we have no way to know what the first of June is going to be like this year. If it is hot, we would have to bring the kids in while we are gone, since I wouldn't be around to tend to moisture. I worry about starting the worms outside and then bringing them in while we are gone. I fear that we might be bringing in a lot of insects. Would you recommend starting them indoors to limit insects and then moving them outside when we return from vacay...or should I just stop over-thinking it and put the kids outside and rig some sort of system to keep them moist for those few days?

I welcome any and all insights...and even rude comments, if you just wanna say, "Stop obsessing already and just throw some worms in a box and forget about 'em!"



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I'm in Arkansas. I tried for a couple years to keep an outdoor bin in the summer. I was able to do it, but it took more time, effort and bother than it was worth.
All my bins are indoors now.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 11:43PM
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Because you have done so much research on your own you were able to ask excellent questions. I feel I should really try to give you the best answers I can.

Due to vacation maybe don't buy your worms until after June. But that is a very long time to ask someone to put off getting worms. Plus by then the July heat will do them no good in a mail box. Look around to see if you can find any for free locally in maybe even your own yard or a damp, composty area.

You may need a two prong approach as far as indoors or outdoors. You may need to keep a small population indoors all year round. This will allow you to replace if summer heat does in the outdoor ones. Put it somewhere not on a carpet. When playing with the worms with the little one make sour lemon faces so at least the worms will be on the floor and not in the mouth.

Egg carton cardboard or similar and corrigated cardboard are water absorbant and create air space. Not bleached white office paper, although some find sucess with it so I am almost afraid to dis it.

To solve your distance from the bottom of the container do it yourself I expect a poster who smartly used 5 gallon buckets and trimmed them for various depths as spacers to chime in.

Being in hot Texas I can not recommend various cloth vermicomposting methods. Find some massive double shade (a huge tree next to a house) where maybe an air conditioner drips onto to locate your bin outdoors.

Maybe start out the first week on a north side porch? and open the cover every day and let the two year old dig in 24/7 for a week or so? After a while it will not be so interesting.

If BSFL do well then maybe they will do your composting for you. People seem to love them just as much as we love our worms.

In Texas I do not think you can just throw them in a box and forget them.

I'm only very rude when a first time poster is in no way legit and their first, second, third, and fourth post tries to spam the board and sell us something giving zero in useful information in return. :-) I was also very mean to the two? doctoral students? who wanted us to write their papers for them. Or the student who wanted to kill all the evil worms that infested his perfectly built for worms water purification system. Oh and to the guy who thought it was evil to add $$$biochar to make castings blacker. Luckily, the other posters on the board are very, very nice and make up for me :-)

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 1:38AM
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I have done both. I live in Oklahoma. Hot summer here too.

For the out door bin I used an old drum from a dryer. Set up with the big opening on the ground, straight on the ground. I added all compostables and the worms, and put a lid on the top.

In the summer, as well as in the winter the worms would be way down low, sometimes below soil level.

Spring and Fall they were all throughout the bin. Mine were in the shade of some oak trees.

I didn't worry about vacation. Even long (8 weeks) ones. When I got back, I would harvest. I would separate the compost and worms, and start a new bin. Everything in there would be not recognizable.

Vacations are great. :)


    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 7:33AM
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Thanks so much for all the responses.

We came up with a temporary solution. We are going to start the worms inside. I'm keeping the bin in the washroom. I'll have to drag it out when I unload the dryer, but I can close the door and the little gnome won't be able to bother them.

We will be replacing our fence in the backyard late this summer and in the process will be moving our fence to take in another big section of our side yard. This area will be the new garden area and we plan on building an in-ground worm bin (link below) next to the garden. We think it's the best option for us, as we won't have to worry too much about the heat.

So until then, the worms will do their work in the laundry room (wonder if I can teach them to fold clothes).

Now, if I can just get one of the local worm farms to call me back, I'll get some worms in their new home.

Link to in-ground worm bin:

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 5:30PM
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I think you made a very wise bin choice. That should handle the heat. Have you thought about how you will harvest?

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 9:26PM
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dowbright(z6 in Missouri)

I've enjoyed watching your process on the decision. Great solutions for you. I know you'll love it. Your son will learn a lot too, the way kids should learn, through seeing things happening naturally in the bins over time. Living green will be a way of life for him. Good luck!

A teacher, of course! ;)

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 12:51PM
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Your worms may not be able to fold clothes (no thumbs) - but if you use organic detergent and dryer sheets - they can eat your dryer lint (mine do).

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 12:48PM
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I've been composting in large rubbermaid bins with 1/16" air holes drilled all over the top, sides and bottom, and do not use a layered bin system. I get tons of great compost! So you could start with a smaller investment. Do set up the bin and add food scraps WELL ahead of ordering worms, at least a week, 2 is better! Worms don't actually eat the food, they eat stuff that grows as the food decomposes.

I got some European night crawlers from and they are much more heat tolerant than red wigglers (and they make a ton of compost for me!) They are fine up to 90 degrees, so this might be a better choice for you. They are also quite good for fishing, much larger than the hair-thin red wigglers, and so wiggly on the hook!

Yes, you will definitely have insects of all kinds in your bin, but they will STAY in the bin as that's where all the action is! I did stop putting fruit peels in my bin unless I freeze them first to kill fruit fly eggs, as THOSE babies do migrate up from my basement bin to the rest of the house. A couple inches of new dry bedding on top of the food in the bin does help prevent this.

If you use a plastic bin of any kind, sometimes they accumulate a bit too much moisture. If the bin looks like it's getting too mucky or wet, cut back on food for a few days and throw in a few handfuls of peat moss. It will wick up the extra moisture quickly, worms love it as bedding, and it will restore the nice pleasant aroma of good compost! If I throw something really juicy in the bin, like a whole dark banana, I just throw a handful of peat moss around it.

You could use a tight bungee cord on the bin to keep the 2-year old out, so the bin could be indoors where it won't cook in the heat. The bins really don't smell any different than a houseplant! Nice and earthy, if things don't get too wet.

Don't worry about vacation - set the bin indoors and go. The worms will adjust fine and will not need feeding while you're gone. If there's been any food at all in there, they'll have plenty to eat, and will actually eat the cardboard bedding as well.

Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to European night crawlers

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 1:19PM
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