How do I get air in to my bin?

saaakDecember 31, 2009

I read; use a regular ¼ to ½ inch drill bit and drill holes about 1 ½ inches apart.

Are there any other methods that are good?

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That's what I do, both on the bottom and upper edge of my plastic tote bin :)

    Bookmark   December 31, 2009 at 5:09PM
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Same here, except that I used the tip of phillips head screwdriver heated over a camp stove to make the holes.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2009 at 5:13PM
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I put false bottoms in the bin.

Option 1. When starting a bin put toilet paper rolls standing up, shoulder to shoulder across the entire bottom of the bin. For more air a second layer can be added. For more strength cut the tubes length wize, put one over the other and make them two or more thick.

Option 2. Coffee Cup holder 4 packs can be alternated up down leaving air spaces.

Option 3. Whole egg cartons can line the bottom of the bin one, two or three deep.

A wrapping paper tube or paper towel tube can be put in the middle or corners to disperse air.

As food "melts" and releases water all the types of cardboard will melt into bedding and then food. And just at the right rate so the bed is never too wet or two dry. No drainage is ever produced. No water is ever added. No shredding of bedding or chopping of food is needed. No tossing of bedding to let in oxygen is needed. The bed stays evenly moist top to bottom.

It is fun to tear into the bed to see how the food is melting, how the bedding is holding up or melting and where the worms are hanging out. The idea is to not have to do anything with it. But I'm still experimenting so I like to see what is going on.

I have no holes in my bins anywhere except the top is open.

Another way if the bin is small would be to flip it over into a new bin, thus the top is now the bottom and the bottom now has air. The moisture can redistribute.

Why do you think you need air? Or why do you think it is not not getting into the bin? Is the bin covered?

    Bookmark   December 31, 2009 at 6:55PM
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By the way, the paper tubes, coffee carrier trays, and egg cartons are all added dry. To wet them would ruin all the constructive work they want to do for you of adding air to the bottom, absorbing drainage, keeping bed evenly moist while becoming tasty worm food and instead it would just be wet matted cardboard rotting that would need air.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2009 at 7:13PM
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Katxena(z7 MD)

Equinoxequinox, that sounds really cool. What an interesting way to use those structured paper products. If I had a tub-type bin, I would adopt that method.

Saaak, what kind of bin are you making? If it's a Rubbermaid-type, the holes you read about will work, or Equinoxequinox's clever idea will work. Some people also insert PVC tubes with holes in them so that the center gets good aeration.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2010 at 9:03AM
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I use what I call: SCUBA tubes (Self-Contained, Underground, Breathable, Air).
I recently came across some large, long cardboard tubes; the type used for bolts of cloth or rolls of carpet. They're 3" inside diameter with the tube itself, 1/4" thick and 5 feet long.
I cut the tubes into 10" lengths and drilled 1" holes along two opposite sides leaving the top and bottom closed (this prevents material from falling in from the top or pushing up from the bottom). I made two of them and buried them in the bin, lying flat. I also considered the possible problem of the tubes becoming wet & falling in on themselves. One solution might be to use large open-celled plastic fencing material. Cut a piece the length of the tube and the width of the inside circumference. Form into a tube shape and connect the ends with small cable-ties; then shove it down inside the cardboard tube. this will help the tube to keep its shape, even soaking wet.


    Bookmark   January 8, 2010 at 8:07PM
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My TP, PT, and WP (Toilet Paper, Paper Towel, and Wrapping Paper tubes do eventually get wet and fall in on themselves as shaul says. I have plenty so I just add new ones. Yes, material does get in from the bottom and when adding food and if the tube is short, or at the level of the vermicompost sometimes things fall in from the top, although I do try to avoid both. But enough air seems to still get through. shaul and I seem to be doing the exactly same thing, but somehow exactly the opposite way. :-) LIke three blind men who each feel a different part of the elephant and each reports it is a different animal. He cuts his cardboard tubes. I keep them full lenghth and when the bottom is rotted away reuse the top dry part in starting the next bin. So my tubes keep getting shorter. But now, with the holidays my tall tubes look a little silly in my short buckets. (Especially the one with the glass of wine on top and a drop of soap for fruit flys.) After watching for hours the worms seemed to like the top of columns so it works there for me. His tubes are thick and he uses that as a structural advantage. I found putting many tubes together to make them really thick did not work for me because they did not breakdown fast enough. He uses that to his advantage and wants the to not breakdown. I want mine to breakdown quick. He also curiously puts them horizontally. I expect he might explain more about that to us. I put mine vertically on the theory they get the air to the hollow bottom. Until that hollow bottom too collapeses due to moisture. If I ran into the thicker cardboard tubes I would be vermicomposting with them also.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2010 at 6:42PM
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Thanks for some great ideas on creating air traps in the worm bin. In case I didn't make myself clear, I use a Rubbermaid-type plastic bin with a cover; and the cardboard tubes I'm talking about are 3" across and 5 feet long. Now, if you can figure a way to fit them into my bin (with the cover closed), without cutting them, Please let me know.
Initially, I thought to stand them up as well but I scrapped that idea for a couple of reasons. 1) I didn't want to provide easy access for the fruit flies and gnats to the lower levels of the bin. 2) I was concerned about material falling in and blocking the holes, thus negating the whole purpose of the tube. 3) The whole surface area is only the inside diameter of the tube.
With the tube laying flat and large holes drilled on opposite sides, providing easy access for the worms; the entire inside is empty (or until they start filling it with castings), thus providing a large, oxygen-rich and (eventually) wet environment where they can get together and meet one-another ; A social hall (if you will) where they can make 'Whoopee' to their hearts' content. Perhaps next time, i'll insert little red lights for a 'Red-light District'. It will also be interesting to see how much poop and cocoons are deposited in the tubes over a period of a month. It would be great to be able to harvest castings and cocoons from a fairly clean environment that's close to the surface, once a month; without having to empty out the whole bin to get to it.
I realize that the tube will eventually fall in on itself, which is why I suggested providing an internal support to help the tube keep its shape. A main point of this discussion is that the worms need oxygen (and moisture). I'm not looking for the tubes to break down, but rather for them to retain their shape.. continuing to provide oxygen and moisture, to help the worms to do what they do best. As for shredded wet or dry cardboard, I have enough extra; I don't need to use the tubes for that.


    Bookmark   January 10, 2010 at 7:20PM
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You are describing an entirely new harvesting method. All castings no compost. I had several sheets of thick cardboard that looked like giant versions of the wavy cardboard that is between the two flat outside layers of corrigated cardboard. Just the corrigated part, the up/downs, if you will, were maybe almost an inch high with no outside layers. 6" by 13". But thick like a bit over 1/8 inch. I put some at the bottom of buckets with other types of cardboard above it. The worms would eat above and I guess while crawling around just happen to deposit only castings in the ridges. No food or other bedding ever got there, just pure castings and mating worms. When tearing apart a bin, which is very fun, the worms would be thick in the ridges of both sides. And yes like you say they did appear to be making Whoopee. Just like in the inside of egg shells.

Maybe a new topic? How to harvest 100% vermicastings.

You are right, tubes standing up negatives:

Easy access for fruit flys, I do wonder sometimes if that does happen. I try to have the tubes lower end inside the air pocket where maybe there are no flys and hope air goes in and out. I had a sheer curtain material over the bins at one point so that would tend to cover the top of the tubes.

I do have material that sometimes misses the pail and goes into the tubes. I seems to not compact and block off the whole air pathway.

"A main point of this discussion is that the worms need oxygen (and moisture)." I so agree. I think the focus is and has been on moisture with hardley a mention of oxygen other than avoiding nonarerobic conditions by too much nitrogen. We have read instructions to always control this wetness. Maybe you will agree that moisture can be 100% as long as oxygen is available. Maybe instead of measuring ph and wetness we, vermicomposters, should be talking and measuring oxygen? Either in the bottom of the bin or disolved in the wetness of the bin. Or maybe not a high level of carbon dioxide would indicate high oxygen. When worms are found in drainage trays dead I think that is not too much water but not enough oxygen, or too much carbon dioxide.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2010 at 8:36PM
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Correction, change "I think the focus" to "I think the focus in vermicasting forums in general has..." Because my whole reply is to everything I have read about vermicastings, not just this thread.

I like to think about my bins and try to figure out what is going on in there and why.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2010 at 8:41PM
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You are right on target. Though we do things differently; your bin is open, mine is closed etc.,on this subject we are totally in sync. I think a lot of my research now is going to focus on growth, reproduction and oxygen levels.
And yes I think we need to start a new topic on ways to harvest 100% castings.

PS. I think if there were 100% moisture in the bin, the worms would be wearing life jackets.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 1:21AM
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I have seen worms (garden or compost?) live in aquarium gravel for months. They escaped from the tropical fish I was feeding. On an e-mail list I am on to do with aquaponics where typically systems are talipia or other fish and the other half is plants grown in the same recirculating water. The fish provide the food for the plants and the plants clean the water for the fish. These types of systems are usually well monitored for various things such as pH. Well one guy is getting rid of the fish and replacing them with red wigglers in gravel. The worms are underwater. I'm curious as to how that is going to work out for him, too. I wonder if his ever escape. I do not know if they breed or if so do the eggs hatch under the water? I'm not giving a link to the site because posters on that list tend to not delete all the previous messages they are replying to so the daily e-mail groupings end up being 98% spammy repeated and 2% readable information.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 6:40PM
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plumiebear(z9? CA)

That sounds like a cool experiment. Certainly worm castings would feed the plants, but how would you feed the worms in the gravel? Algae? Let us know how it works out for the guy.


    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 10:33PM
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Just over a month ago, I buried two large cardboard tubes (what I call SCUBA: Self-Contained-Underground-Breathable-Air)in the bin. The tubes which were meant to act as air traps (to provide extra oxygen) are 10" long x 3" inside diameter x 1/4" thick and originally came from a single tube 5 ft long that was the center to a roll of fabric. I had drilled 1" holes along two opposite sides to allow the worms easy access and buried the tubes lying flat with the holes on the sides. Today with the weather in the high 70's F, I decided to do some extra aerating and see what was going on. I noticed one of the tubes was looking a little limp, so I decided to pull it out. The cardboard was damp enough that I could easily tear it open. Most of the inside was covered with castings and cocoons as well as several groups of worms.
I would definitely call it a success. The only thing I would do differently next time is to add an internal support to help the tube keep its shape.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2010 at 7:42AM
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I just got in my dual Moister & PH guage...
Tested my worm bedding (Stacked Tray) & got 50% to 70% moister depending on where I poked it...
The PH was near "7"....

    Bookmark   February 20, 2010 at 9:46PM
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singleton165(z5 NH Seacoast)

I have a two bin system with holes in both bins (on the top and bottom of the first bin and only bottom holes on the other. My top bin is spaced from the bottom by a couple of empty beer cans laying on their side. I had started out with cut up paper towel rolls but the bin had excess leachate (sp)and the rolls collapsed. I figured the cans were being recycled and they work for me.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2010 at 8:16PM
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