Worm Compost Bin Troubleshooting

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by StarrB., Dec 18, 2015.

  1. StarrB.

    StarrB. New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2015
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Location:
    Wisconson, USA
    Home Page:
    Climate:
    Cold Temperate
    Hello. I have built a three-tiered worm composter out of plastic storage bins. The top bin contains the kitchen waste and worms. That 1st bin and the 2nd have holes drilled into the bottom so worm castings can fall into and be collected in the second layer, and worm tea will drain thourgh to the bottom layer. Have others had luck with these "self-sorting" style systems? In my system castings are not falling into the 2nd tier, but aften worms will fall through and then die. Are there tricks to getting these kinds of systems to self-sort the compost, but keep the worms in place? Please let me know. Thanks!

    ~Starr
     
  2. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2013
    Messages:
    1,786
    Likes Received:
    148
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    gardening, reading, etc
    Location:
    near St. Charles, MI, USoA
    Home Page:
    Climate:
    -15C-35C, 10cm rain/mo, clay, full sun, K-G Dfa=x=Dfb
    hmm, i don't do things that complicated here, using simple buckets/bins.

    from what i recall the three layer bins are gradually built up so that each layer contains compost/worms/worm castings. it is through time that you fill up the first layer, then add the second on top and start filling it and the worms will move up into the food and so eventually, by the time you get the third going and full the bottom layer should be mostly empty of worms so you take it off, empty it and then use it up top. so that way it becomes a perpetual digester.

    the method i use has no worm tea, has no separation step, i just carry most of the bins to the gardens in the spring and take most of the worms and put them and their castings into the garden. the buckets that don't get put into the gardens become the starting worm population for the next year's veggie/paper/etc. processing.
     
  3. StarrB.

    StarrB. New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2015
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Location:
    Wisconson, USA
    Home Page:
    Climate:
    Cold Temperate
    Thanks, Songbird. That sounds like a different system than I was trying for, but like it might work better than what I am dong.

    Here is a diagram of the kind of system I was trying to build:
    [​IMG]
    Has anyone had luck with this style system?
     
  4. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2006
    Messages:
    3,046
    Likes Received:
    199
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    E Washington, USA
    Climate:
    Semi-Arid Shrub Steppe (BsK)
    Hi Starr,
    We had nothing but problems trying to keep worms in bins, boxes, or containers of any sort. Now we have worms roaming free in raised garden beds and put our worm food/kitchen scraps into planting pots with multiple drain holes that have been submerged into the soil. The worms are able to enter and exit the pots at will and the castings can be easily spread on the beds periodically. Kind of a "free-range" worm composting set up.

    It sounds like the main issue with your system is the screening isn't large enough to let the castings fall into the second bin while at the same time being too large so that the worms fall through?
     
  5. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2013
    Messages:
    1,786
    Likes Received:
    148
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    gardening, reading, etc
    Location:
    near St. Charles, MI, USoA
    Home Page:
    Climate:
    -15C-35C, 10cm rain/mo, clay, full sun, K-G Dfa=x=Dfb
    Bill, i don't have trouble with wandering worms because i do keep the bins covered, using the rubber ring from the bucket lid used as a band and the fabric over the top can be old t-shirts (without holes :) ) or fine mesh (like what is used for curtains). that way air can go through, but the fruit flies, fungus gnats and worms can't get in or out without permission... haven't had any escapees since.

    about a month ago a friend of Ma's gave her a bag of stuff for Christmas and the bag was made out of curtain mesh material. Ma was going to throw it away, but i repurposed it for two new bin covers.

    also, since it is so cold outside here in the winter i keep my worm bins indoors so they are active and working all winter long.

    as to the OP and the setup pictured... cannot say i'd like wasting that much space. in the same amount of space you could have three active worm bins (or use less space and have fewer).
     
  6. cin

    cin New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2015
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Soignies, Belgium
    Climate:
    Cold temperate
    I think there is a misunderstanding about how this setup works. I have a similar diy system, but I started with only two tiers. One two collect the worm tea and one active area, once this area is full I place the third bin with holes on top, as i ad small amounts of kitchen scraps the worms move through the holes in search of fresh food. Once the worms are in the third bin I know I can harvest the castings an start over again. As far as I know worms only tend to migrate through the holes if conditions within the active area are not ideal. To hot, to much of the same kind of kitchen waste, to wet due to a lack of "browns" , or when all the kitchen scraps are digested. Especially don't overfeed ! I started with a very small amount of worms so in the beginning it was more an execice in breeding worms instead of getting rid of kitchen scraps, but it did help to figure out how much I could feed them. Smell is also a good indicator for knowing something is wrong. As long temperatures are above 10degrees C the bins stay outside, I put them inside when it is too hot + 25 degrees C or to cold. Hope this is of any use.
     
  7. Livingston

    Livingston New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2015
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Mother/Teacher/DIYer
    Location:
    NW Georgia, USA
    Climate:
    Warm Temperate
    Hi. I just use an old livestock water tank with holes rusted in the bottom. It is super simple. My worms live on. When I need some black gold I grab some out. When I need castings tea i mix castings and water together and use where needed. I keep a board over it for really hot times of year and I open it to vent and catch some rain when I think about it. I've never drowned them yet. I have two going now.
     

Share This Page

-->