Using an old cooler?

suwannee75(5)September 24, 2008

I would like to start a worm bin using an old cooler. I thought I could put it on a slight angle and use the spigot to drain the compost tea.

I am not sure what to do about air holes. Should I just drill holes in the top of the cooler or the sides? Or leave the top open all the time with a piece of dry newspaper on top of the worms? I do have a rubbermaid bin I could use but after reading about them, it seems like the seepage from the holes on the bottom would be messy.

I am going to be keeping them in my basement, I have two small kids and my DH is not thrilled about having them ( the worms, not the kids!) in the first place so the most tidy and unobtrusive solution is what I am looking for.


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loomis(Z6a Western MA)

The cooler sounds like a great idea! I, too, would like to start a worm bin and have been researching this on the web.

I recently attended a lecture on this, and the speaker has been vermicomposting for 25 years. She simply used a Rubbermaid container with no holes whatsoever in it. She left the top open. If the contents became too wet, she would add a little more shredded newspaper. If too dry, she would mist it a little. She made a practice of burying the kitchen scraps first in one corner, then the opposite corner, etc., to keep the worms moving around.

I was impressed with the simplicity of her methods, for it was so easy. Many websites have these rather expensive tiered containers, and I'm sure they work great, but, at the moment, I'm more interested in simple, cheap and easy.

The only thing I would say is that you will probably want to keep the lid propped open, drill holes in the lid for ventilation or just keep it open.

I love your idea so much that I'm going out to my garage to see if I can do the same with an old cooler!

Good luck with your worm bin. Way to go!

    Bookmark   September 26, 2008 at 12:01AM
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Sorry but i couldn't resist tilling this old worm war story.

The first time i did vermicomposting back in the 80's the instructions ( from the local newspaper ) were to buy a lidded 2'x2'x6' Styrofoam cooler. Poke holes in the bottom and top then PACK IN strips of wet newspaper TIGHTLY until it was 3/4 full and add a pound of worms.

I put it on blocks and never moved it. It must have weighed 200 pounds.

Kept the bin in my unheated garage year round. Always seemed to be the same temperature inside, low 60's. It took a couple years to break down all that newspaper. After two years of waiting for compost i put worms and all into the garden. That was also in the instructions. I guess i was supposed to buy more worms for the next batch.

The cooler was nice. But all that packed paper... Well just the thought of tearing up another batch put me off for a lot of years.

Vermicomposting has come a long way in 25 years.
I like the new methods better. And of course i now know that low 60's is a little too cool. But if you have your bin in a warm room or can keep just the cooler warm inside it could work for you without a hitch.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2008 at 2:05AM
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rj_hythloday(8A VA)

I've considered a cooler. It seems it would insulate an outdoor bin in the winter. They are filled w/ Styrofoam in the walls. so drilling into the wall would make a mess. The top would be ok to drill into but wouldn't keep out rain. I think maybe just propping it open slightly would work. The cheap rubbermaid work great though. I have one w/ holes drilled in the bottom, and screen material glued in, that sits nested in another one for drainage. Total cost $10.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2008 at 7:29AM
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I think it sounds like a great idea, but you may want to place it on a high shelf to keep the little ones from digging it up to hunt worms. My kids loved worms from the time when they were toddlers all the way through elementary school. One of their favorite books was called "How to Eat Fried Worms".


    Bookmark   September 26, 2008 at 12:19PM
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rj_hythloday(8A VA)

I've got mine in my back yards and my little ones 4,7,15 haven't even lifted the lid to look in. My 4 and 7 yo were interested in me showing them to them a few times but that's it.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2008 at 2:32PM
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I have an old cooler and thought I would line the bottom of it with screen door screen 2" off the bottom for drainage and let it trickle out the spikit. if you need heat at night through the winter, why not just put a pop bottle full of hot water inside like a hotwater bottle for the little guys and shut the lid for the night to hold as much heat in as possable? then open thinks up in the morning. if you live where it really gets hot in the summer, do the same thing but put cold water or freeze the bottle during the hotest part of the day.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 11:36PM
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