Having read that Worm Inns are the greatest thing since sliced bread and how they are the perfect bin for vermicomposting I bought one. I had to have one. It was my way, way, way early birthday gift to myself. After reading about it for months and months I could not possibly wait until my birthday so ordered it early. Possibly in March. Not wanting to contaminate my new system with my old worms of uncertain pedigree and only having room for one bin I unceremoniously dumped my original bin back into the compost heap I got them from. Such was the gleam in my eye for my new bin and my new, younger and prettier worms. But could they cook?
Off to Home Depot I went to get the plastic pipe. They cut them right there for me. The fittings came with the bin. The instructions are for a system that lifts the bin off of the ground so a 5 gallon bucket can be handily placed underneath it to catch drips and for easy harvesting. I did not place the straps of the system the way they show but instead put it diamond wise with one strap on each horizontal. I did not use the zip ties but instead threaded the horizontals through the bin straps. My preference. I find it difficult to follow any instructions. I have my reservations about the design and strength of the support system. In some ways I feel the support is a smart key part of the system. The exact specifications might be modified by connoisseurs of vermicomposting systems. The height appears designed correctly at first look but in practical use I would need it higher than that because like milking a cow it would be way handier if the working parts were waist height rather than get on one�s knees for milking or harvesting. It�s an elderly thing. Maybe like the upside down tomato planters this vermicomposting system is best hanging from the rafters. The weight of wet vermicompost should NEVER be underestimated in a flow through system or any system. Never mind harvesting, even adding material to the bin gives one the wobbles. This could perhaps be solved by using larger pipe than called for. Or maybe by having five or six sides rather than just four where it is always wiggling this a way or that a way. Perhaps it also needs additional horizontals half way up. This in itself is not a reason to not get the system. Think of it as Version 3 or 4. Possibly new versions will include these as it is a young product and possibly still evolving.
I live in America and purchased the system and worms from RedWormComposting.com . The worms, red wigglers, Eisenia fetida are not from him but from a company in America he must be happy with. The system came way fast. The worms soon after. One does need time to assemble the system and add bedding materials. The worms quickly arrived. They were all worms with two days� worth of poop on them. With the box I think the two pounds of worms weighted two and a quarter or two and a half pounds. I probably wrote it on the mailing box along with the postal stamp of the date mailed. So I more than got two pounds of just naked, healthy worms. They looked pretty much like the picture at the top of his website. If there was any peat it was maybe just a couple tablespoons worth as I recall. The worms were in a bag in a box with shredded packing. I weighed using a home postal scale knowing you would all want to know. I choose my bin seller because I had read so many of his blog posts and learned so much from them.
I had prepared extensive bedding for them. I tied shut the base. Cardboard formed the bottom. I filled it right up with one inch egg carton and coffee tray material. As I recall, I gave it a good feeding. When the worms came put them in and gave it more good feedings. I also poured gallons of fish tank water over them. Enough to have gallons come out the bottom and then repour it back in trying to put back the bucket quick enough to catch it running through a second time. I was stress testing the system to the max. I tossed in enough food to fill it to the brim and when that went down a little I crammed it full again. I put in loaves and loaves of bread. Was this a good idea? No but I wanted to really to test the system. For you guys. The world wants to know. Is this Worm Inn system as great as I imagine it is in my dreams of the perfect system or is it just another can o worms or worm factory? A wee bit of worm humor there. So into the bin went on these poor worms� heads. Then gallons of water, loaves of bread and more kitchen scraps than one really ever should. I did also keep adding bedding. Bedding, I believe is good and can make up for any evil that may befall a vermicomposting system. That is the theory anyway. Practice may be different. My results from on purpose massively poor bin management and can the system deal with it have been inconclusive. I would really like other people to post their experiences with overfeeding the system. It seems less than one percent of Americans compost of them less than one percent vermicompost of them less than one percent have Worm Inns. Even on this website few have posted about them.
My worms seemed to have survived. I do not know if they have thrived. At one point I tore apart the system. Did I have as many worms as I started with? Less? Possibly. Unsure. I did not separate out the worms but just inspected them as I moved material out of the system and back on top of it. I have seen many cocoons in the system. I have not seen baby worms. With the large food additions and purchasing peat moss for the garden I put a large quantity of peat moss into the bin as bedding. It is hard to tell if the harvest is peat moss or vermicastings. I put it all right back in on top. The best thing to do for a heavily fed vermicompost system I think is to cover with a layer of harvested vermicompost or even the stuff that is still too big to be harvested. So far I have no harvest taken out of this system. A lot of stuff food and bedding has disappeared.
I think the most interesting result of my testing has been that I still have the same old, same old major problem. It does not matter how big of an opening is given to that vermicompost, it still does NOT flow through and certainly nothing all evenly. Like Defying Gravity, it is Wicked. After a few months the vermicompost does not even need any bottom at all. It just keeps flying like a crazy monkey. I harvested what I could with a tri claw scraping at the bottom of the mass. It was not easy or fun. One has to untie the now moldy and slimy from months of water dripping tie. Then somehow reach down and over and back up trying to scrape around the inside of the bag for scraps to fall into the bucket which needs to be right there thus limiting ones hand movability. Even after a bunch of this and weeks going by the material does not fall all by itself, thus self harvesting. The bin is also too heavy and too close to the floor to convince from the outside the material to fall. Think trying to lift up a cow by the belly. After a long while and letting stuff dry out for months I was able to finally squish the still heavy lower outside of the bag to release the black gold. And then like an avalanche it ALL falls down. The whole center of the bin sinks out the bottom of the bag. The stuff stuck to the sides may still stay there.
Despite this rather negative report I am still convinced this system is the best thing since sliced bread. The system certainly can deal with massive whole unchopped food inputs. The large surface area and how it just melts food additions makes it easy to over feed times ten. The netting does keep in the fruit flies. It may be good just for that. If fruit flies are visible just do not feed and they will all stay inside the zippered area. If fruit flies are there it is probably not time to feed yet anyways. Expect some nice friendly spiders to make homes right nearby. They too are working for you. Recently I have fed way less and actually stopped feeding the system. I am letting time work. I hope it is not drying out.
I way enjoyed doing this experiment and writing it up for you all. I hope you enjoyed "trying a worm inn" with me as if you were right there. I tried to do what you all would with it.
It would be great if there were sister or brother posts to this one. There are things I still want to know and understand about the system. Some things seem to be problems with all flow through such as harvests not falling through and then falling through all at once right down the center. Maybe like a chicken laying an egg this is just the way things are and the idea of constant harvesting of perfect vermicompost a quarter inch at a time falling like dust only happens in factory vermicomposting.
I am still trying to become friends with my Worm Inn.