Starting a new bin - in TidyCat buckets?

liz_h(7/8 DFW Texas)May 2, 2008

Several years ago, I had a wormbin in a large Rubbermaid tote. I'm ready to start one up again. We have a huge stack of empty TidyCat buckets that I'd like to use. I realize that the shape isn't ideal, but the price certainly is! I assume I'd need to keep them no more than half full, and use a few of them.

I plan to keep them in the mechanical room which has temperatures from about 68 to 72F.

I've been reading a lot here and other places online. One set of instructions said to prepare your bedding and add food to start decaying about 2 weeks before you get your worms. I know I didn't do this before, but I assume it would speed up the process.

Do you think I'd be OK with this shape bucket if I'm careful?

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Hi Liz,
Jerry from WellsWorms has had one of these going for a couple of years, and it certainly works for him. He drilled holes in the lid, and in the bottom, and nested it inside a solid bin for any drainage.

I'm actually getting a guy started with vermicomposting, and he wants to use his kitty litter pails as well. My only thought would be to put 1/2 lb in 2 pails, as opposed to 1 lb. I think it would be best because of the smaller surface area, but that is only my opinion.


    Bookmark   May 2, 2008 at 7:17AM
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I think you could make it work. Just as you said, be careful with it. The smaller the environment, the faster it can get out of control. Watch your moisture closely & I think I would pocket feed slowly so as not to create any heat in the entire container.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2008 at 9:38AM
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liz_h(7/8 DFW Texas)

Thanks! DH is picking up some freecycle worms for me this afternoon. That was a lucky hit. I hadn't looked at Freecycle for a year. I don't know how many worms there will be, but will keep it to about 1/2 pound or less per bucket. I use a lot of fresh produce - I think we could keep several pounds happy with no trouble.

My question now is the hole drilling. I'm assuming we should put 1/8" holes in the sides and lid for air, and in the bottom for drainage. The last set of directions I looked at online said to start with 9" of fluffy bedding matter, so that's what I'll do. I hope to use a combination of newspaper strips & shredded cardboard.

I'm a bit unsure about the bottom drainage. If I expect a lot of liquid to drain out, I can place them in a 1'x 3' tray. Otoh, if it should be a very rare occurrence I'll just place them on the concrete near the floor drain that's already there.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2008 at 5:08PM
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I would put feet on it. Take two 1x2s about 8-10 inches long and mount them under the bucket. You can mount them by drilling a couple of holes in the bottom and screw the bucket to the boards. This will create a space for air and the worms will want to wonder less because there is light under the bucket.

By the way, I am a master composter who volunteers for the county teaching people about composting. I am going to use your idea in my next class next week as an example of what can be done without spending a bunch of money. Thanks for the tip.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2008 at 5:24PM
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liz_h(7/8 DFW Texas)

You're welcome. :) The actual bottom of the bucket is about an off the floor - maybe 1/2 to 1 inch. Do you think that's enough? If so I'll ask DH whether he'd rather cut away the sides a bit more to let light in or add the boards. He's certainly got plenty of wood scraps around. I love the idea of anything that will encourage them to stay in their bin!

Off Topic note - I grew up with my Mom & I being the "handymen" of the family, as opposed to my Dad and brothers. Then I married a man who loves to do all that sort of puttering, and knows a lot more than I do. Since he also does the dishes I don't demand equal time as Ms. Fix-it. ;-)

    Bookmark   May 2, 2008 at 5:47PM
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liz_h(7/8 DFW Texas)

Ralph - scratch that last question. I just looked at the buckets again. In actuality they just have two strips along the bottom that are raised up. Most of the bottom would be right on the floor.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2008 at 5:51PM
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It's been a year since the last post. Any updates on how this system worked? I have alot of these buckets. I thought of just using a second bucket as my drip pan.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 11:36AM
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liz_h(7/8 DFW Texas)

I'm sorry to say that I executed the plan very poorly. My free worm start had maybe 2 dozen worms and some eggs/cocoons. But I fed it the first week or so like it had plenty of worms to chomp away. And I didn't let the food sit in the worm bin for a day before I added the worms. By the time I realized how bad that ovefeeding was, the system was a mess and the worms had died. I've since learned a lot more and think I could probably make the system work. It would need more careful watching than a larger bin.

Your post comes at a good time. Just yesterday I signed up for a local worm compost class & ordered 2 pounds of worms. I had planned to make a Rubbermaid bin, having forgotten all about those buckets. I'll have to see how many we have. We haven't used litter in a bucket in quite awhile, and the buckets can be useful for other things. (My class and worm pick-up won't be for another week.)

I can say one thing with certainty. I won't try another worm bin with a free start again. I don't have the patience for it. We generate a lot of produce scraps most days. I don't think even the 2 pounds of worms will be able to handle it all at first. And I've definitely learned the dangers of over-feeding! I think that with the bin I had 15 years ago, I occasionally overfed, but the bin managed to limp along. I want to keep this new bin as healthy as possible.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 5:17PM
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This was helpful!! It is hard not to overfeed! Thanks for the reminder!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 8:02PM
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