My re-recycled worm bin

mendopeteDecember 7, 2009

Last summer my "wormy" neighbor talked me into vermicomposting and sent me to the Thanksgiving Coffee Company here in Fort Bragg. I met the owner Paul (very wormy!) who showed me his setup. Paul has his worms in the ground in two beds maybe 10' wide and 20' long. Owming the coffee company and a restaurant/bakery he has access to much food, and he covers these beautiful 12" fluffy mound with old carpet! He harvests hundreds of pounds of castings each year and uses them in his wonderful community garden and orchard- It was BEAUTIFUL and I was Hooked...Here is what I did. I decided to make a rectangular box 5'x3' out of some oldgrowth redwood 4x6 posts which used to be my fenceposts and before that were high voltage crossarms. I stacked them 3 high (18") on the ground in the shade of a rhoderdendrum and merletree, and left the bottom open. I filled with some bedding and food and a bucket of starter red worms Paul gave me. I cover the bed with carpet and throw an old sheet of plywood over the whole thing. It took awhile for the population to establish, but last month I harvested about 20 lbs of castings. After discovering this website a few weeks ago I got motivated and collected a few truckloads of compostable material to make some piles. I decided to top off my half full bin with a bag of starbucks grounds and a about a cubic foot of aged horse manure with a smaal population of red worms. 4 days later it is warm but not hot. This happened about 3 months ago when I added to much and it got hot! I thought I killed all the worms, but after 3 weeks of no fresh feed they were thriving better than ever! Does anyone have expierience with this system or heve suggestions?

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plumiebear(z9? CA)

Pete, sounds like a nice setup. I get a brief pang of jealousy when someone talks about getting manure. It's a great source of natural heat for the colder months. It seems like your worm bed is now deep enough that the worms could burrow away if new material got too hot for them. You could also feed half the bed at a time, which would leave the other half as a safe haven if things really got hot.

How are you harvesting the vermicompost? You must have tons of cocoons after your big feeding of manure.

Andrew in Berkeley

    Bookmark   December 7, 2009 at 8:52PM
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mendopete

My first harvest was just half the bin. I just fed on one side of the bin for a few weeks, then pulled back the carpet on the other side, fluffed and waited about an hour. I then sifted thru hardware cloth a worm free compost. The light makes them go away. Then again I am nearly blind!

    Bookmark   December 7, 2009 at 10:59PM
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kathmcd7

I have a flower bed about 2 ft by 25 ft. I put a couple of handfuls of worms in last March. Throughout the year, I fed them by burying the food and they multiplied like crazy, too. The bed is now covered with 6-12" of leaves and it is our coldest month of the year. Would you just pull back the leaves and put the food there, or continue burying it? Reason to bury is to keep dogs, cats, and critters from digging it up. Does the carpet cover keep out critters? I used window screen laid over the food holes when it was warm. I sure would like to stop burying the food cause it takes so much time. Thanks for any input.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 5:06PM
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mendopete

Kat I always top feed and cover with bedding - in your case leaves. I have an old heavy sheet of pywood over my box for critter control. The carpet keeps the worms and compost cool and damp, as well as helping control the odor and flies. Top feeding allows more air to the food and it breaks down quicker. I fluff the mix with a pitchfork when I feed to get more air down inside. If you have access to some coffeegrounds (starbucks) or manure , pull your leaves back, lay damp cardboard or newspaper on the soil and spread a layer out. Cover with your leaves, keep damp, and in the spring you will be amazed with the worm activity.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2009 at 12:28AM
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