Bird's nest worm bin

PaulNS(NS zone 6a)May 15, 2005

I wanted to show you this bin because it unexpectedly turned into a worm bin (don't they all though, lol).

My wife made it last summer after reading on the internet about a 'bird's nest bin' composter - you fashion brush, sticks, old garden stalks etc. into a circle and fill it with your compost materials. The idea is that the walls will eventually compost as well. I'd been cutting spruce trees at the time. Using the boughs to make the bin seemed like a good alternative to burning them. DW sort of wove them into each other to make this surprisingly sturdy wreath about ten feet in diameter.

Realizing this compost wouldn't be easy to work or even access we started throwing in slow-composting stuff like weeds with roots. Besides which spruce boughs are long lasting. We thought it would be a long-term project compared to the pallet bins, one we'd keep adding to, maybe even for a few years. We also threw in a few shovelsful of manure when we had some and topped it off in the fall with leaves.

By this spring the wreath was brown. Half the needles had fallen off. The material inside had reduced from two feet deep down to about ten inches. I climbed into it, dug down and found it teeming with worms, and much of the stuff already very nice castings. you think we could manage this bin as a worm bin? It would be nice to have some castings for transplanting, and to make tea with. But I don't want to waste worms on the garden or drown them. Would it work to bury kitchen scraps in one end of the pile and wait, and if so, for how long?

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ShenValleyJoe(6b Staunton, VA)

I can't get an idea of the size, or how easy it would be to get into the compost...

But that's one of the coolest garden features I've ever seen. Really!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2005 at 2:18PM
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tracywag(Z5 NY)

That's just too cool. I think you should just keep doing what you're doing, it seems to make your worm farm happy.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 3:00PM
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Jeanie65(z 8 Tx.)

That is so neat! Why change a good thing. As far as how long would the scraps take to compost, I think it would depend on how many worms are there, and how warm your temps are. The more worms, and the warmer the temps, the faster the composition. But then, that is how this works for me down here in Texas, :)

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 5:59PM
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colleen_mi(5b/6a SE Mich)

Paul, I don't see why you couldn't manage it like a smaller worm bin. When you're ready to harvest castings, stop feeding at one side and make your additions to the other side. It probably won't be as complete a worm relocation as an indoor bin, but I always sacrifice some worms when I take the castings anyway.

As for how long, I think you'll just have to watch it and see when it looks "done" enough for whatever your purpose is. You already know that compost doesn't have to be completely finished to be useful, although I guess for tea you'd want it pretty mature.

Cool idea! Will you add new branches around it this year?

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 8:35PM
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PaulNS(NS zone 6a)

Your compliments have been passed along to the chef, she is beaming. She has already made a new bin like this one on the far side of the garden. The old one (funny you should ask Colleen) is dead and grey, so she topped it up with a ring of fresh spruce boughs, just for the looks. I'll see about getting a photo of both.

I forgot to mention - because I plain forgot; winter tends to wipe the memory banks - that a bunch of shellfish plant waste also went into the pile, and that I purposely diverted shovelsfull of manure that had red wrigglers in it to this pile, so a worm village should not have been entirely unexpected.

The problem of separating castings comes partly from the fact that these fine castings are mixed with stalks and clumps of roots. So I think I'll keep adding to the pile this year, give it more time.

The perspective in the picture is odd - makes it look like the pallet bins are far from the bird's nest, which looks huge. The wall of it is about 2 1/2' high - a little higher than the dog on the right if that helps. :)

How about somebody try this bin using other stuff - sunflower and/or other stalks - and tell us how it goes?

    Bookmark   May 17, 2005 at 7:26AM
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sqh1(z7 NC)

I do a lot of worm bin projects with the kids at my daughter's elementary school. We decided to try just building a bin out of bales of pinestraw that we had. We laid them end to end and then one across, making it about 6'X 2'. We add whatever food scraps they have from lunches and shred classroom/office scrap paper. When we want to harvest compost we take off one of the end pieces and make the bin longer and replace the end piece. We stop feeding the other end. The worm bin is moving up the school yard and we can move it back the other direction when needed. It's fun and works well, even through winter.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2005 at 5:14PM
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PaulNS(NS zone 6a)

Susan that's brilliant. I'd really like to see a picture if you have one. These bins remind me of traditional Japanese packaging - eg. bamboo, paper. Or edible cellophane candy wrappers.

What is pine straw exactly?

    Bookmark   May 24, 2005 at 9:10PM
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I wanted to seek permission to show your picture of the bird's nest compost bin when I speak to a local garden club. If so, would you please email the picture to me?

Thank you so much. I think it is very clever.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2006 at 10:27PM
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antoniab(5 WofChicago,IL)

I was looking through old posts and found this.
I thought it was very nifty. So I revived it.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 12:24AM
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Didn't realize it's an old thread until I came to your post. Thanks for reviving it.
It makes people think of new ideas to create DIY worm bins.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 3:40PM
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