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Mark and his OSCR Worm Bin

Mark beneath his OSCR
Who says a worm bed is just for worms? Mark takes a break beneath his newly constructed OSCR worm bin


One of the really cool things about building this website is that it has allowed me to connect with lots of people thinking about getting into vermicomposting and then helping to nudge them further in that direction. It is especially gratifying to receive emails from some of these folks weeks and months later, telling me about all the cool vermicomposting projects they have on the go etc.

My vermi-friend Mark (aka “Mark from Kansas’) is certainly a PRIME example of what I’m talking about! He bought worms from me back in February (and again in March), and is definitely someone who has taken to vermicomposting like a fish to water! In all honesty, Mark’s email updates have inspired me so much I’ve almost resorted to begging him to become a RWC correspondent.
:lol:

Well, all my whining and pleading seems to have paid off (haha), and I am very pleased to be able to share Mark’s first ‘official’ post here today – focused specifically on his new OSCR (Oregon Soil Corporation Reactor) worm composting system.

Included here is a bit of a background story, Mark’s OSCR-building journal entries, and a gallery of pictures taken during the set-up process. Each photo has it’s own caption, but you may have to look closely to read them since I needed to shrink the images so they’d fit in the post.

I like to experiment with the whole vermicompost concept. I have had a lot of success vermicomposting so far. The Rubbermaid bin seemed like too much labor to harvest and maintain. I had, at one time, 4 Rubbermaid bins and one 55 gallon drum (cut length wise) in my garage. They were in the garage for four seasons and all of them prospered. For 12 months I fed them all kinds of things just to see what would happen and made a list of what they would eat. To make a long story short, I had 5 bins with different foods different moisture content, or different temperatures. If I killed some I would not kill them all.

The vermicompost I did harvest was great for our plants. Some plants grew well in sand and other plants did well in what was mostly gravel. My wife used some VC on her tomato plants and from casual observation, they were bug and disease free. She was very pleased with her small crop and received several compliments on the taste and juiciness.

So, I finally decided to lay all my cards on the table. I have read volumes of research and spent more money than I wanted to. Living in Kansas, I have an unlimited amount of manure and coffee grounds. I keep track of how many pounds of coffee grounds I get from the gas station and put up a sign in the store stating how much the store has recycled. The sign is a public awareness tool. They sell more coffee by going green and I get the coffee grounds.

My goal for this year is to reduce the bin input by 90%. I am trying to reduce 1 ton of trash into 200 pounds of high quality VC. I send samples to K-State University for nutrient contents, N P K. Some of the previous values varied greatly and now I think I have a good mix of food to balance out the values. It is my understanding that N P K are non renewable resources, they have to be mined or made from fossil fuels. I make them in my garage.

The guy I get my horse manure from wants to go completely organic in his huge garden. I think it is a fair to trade manure for VC for him to till in his garden, I’ll let him do the growth trials on a large scale, that will free me up to do more research.

I chose the OSCR bin type to meet my needs. Less labor and more time to observe and record.

It does have a forty watt heater cable in it that – based on an electric consumption calculator – will cost me 10 cents a month. I have been criticized for leaving a “carbon footprint” and using electric to heat it wasn’t pure vermicomposting. Personally, I think we are in a natural resource and pollution crisis. Time has run out a long time ago to start doing something now, if I have to maintain my bin with electric, then I have to. If all my worms die, I have no worms to vermicompost and have to spend even more money.

I also decided to install a 4” fan to force air into the harvest chamber, in short, I want to pressurize the harvest chamber to force air up and have the bottom 2” of the bin on the dry side.


Mark’s OSCR-Building Journal


10/10/09

I am getting ready to start the new big bin 40” x 48” x 24”.

The heater cable was a little long so I angled it upwards to 10” because the heater cables can‘t touch each other. The breeding chamber itself is 4” deep The breeding chamber is defined as: the harvested VC from the other bins which I have witnessed as having a lot of cocoons. The main body of the heater cable is 4” above the steel cable screen.

So from the bottom: steel cable, a layer of news paper (2-4 sheets thick), the harvested VC that include cocoons, and the main body of the heater cable.

I want the “finished” VC at the bottom so the heat will hatch the cocoons. The bulk of the food at the top will drive them upward.

I have a Bentley Bin* inside for the harvested worms. I am going to have to start a second BB when I harvest the rest of the blue bin. It is cold outside and I am going to have to let the reactor bin sit for at least a week to let it warm up and stabilize before I add the worms.

*[Editor’s Note: I emailed Mark to see what he meant by “Bentley Bin”, and here is what he said (I have linked to the video he refers to as well): “Bentley Bin is the Rubbermaid bin you made in your video. The first one I used and had success with. I was so thrilled with the simple bin, that I just call it a “Bentley Bin” because I built it from your website. I guess I am just a fan.“]

10/11/09:

Loaded bin with:

100lbs. finished VC with cocoons

6 lbs. paper/cardboard/coffee filters

56 lbs. aged horse manure

48 lbs. aged coffee grounds

12 lbs. kitchen scraps aged in the freezer

2 ½ lbs. aged cow manure

1 ½ lbs. of sand

12 ounces oats

4 ounces egg shell

2 gallons of water

Letty plugged in the heater @ 7:00 pm. The temp of the bin is 42 degrees.

I’ll have to wait for at least a week for the temp to go up to70 degrees. The wait period will also stabilize the contents, once stabilized I’ll add the worms.

10/12/09

Temperatures vary from zone to zone. The temp is 56 degrees within a 20 inch radius from the center, at a depth of 4 inches. The left side of the bin had temps in the mid 60s.

I sprayed down the top with 1 gallon of water. The moisture meter was reading 20%.

I also added:

8 lbs. coffee grounds

8 lbs. horse manure

10/13/09

Temps rising in various zones. I closed the harvest door and have a temp 8 degrees above ambient.

Added 2 ½ gallons of water.

Added 8 pounds of horse manure. The surface seemed like it had to much coffee grounds.

10/14/09

Temps holding steady from 68 degrees on the right and 76 degrees on the left. Right side seems to be the cooler zone with the middle being the warmest. Moisture readings about 40 -50%

Added ½ gallon of water.

10/15/09

I went ahead and added my small holding bin of worms and unfinished VC 24 lbs.

The small bin was running a little dry so, in they went. I estimate 6 lbs. of worms.

I also watered it down with ½ gallon of water.

10/16/09

I have pot worms crawling up the sides.

Added 4oz of bread to the right side.

Added 3oz crushed egg shell scattered around the top

I went ahead and added the other holding bin 43 lbs. of worms and unfinished VC.

I have no idea how many worms were in the 43 lbs but, there was a lot. Maybe 15 lbs.

Added ½ gallon of water.

Totals:

Finished VC/cocoons 100lbs.

Horse manure 72 lbs.

Coffee grounds 56 lbs.

Kitchen waste 12 lbs.

Paper/cardboard/coffee filters 6 lbs.

Cow Manure 2 ½ lbs.

Sand 1 ½

Egg shell 7 ounces

Oats 12 ounces

Bread 4 ounces

Water 7 gallons

Worms holding bins 77 lbs.


Mark’s Photo Gallery





















Let me wrap this up by sending out a big thanks to Mark for taking the time to document his OSCR building experience (and of course for sharing it with us). Hopefully he will be able to provide us with updates as the bin (and his vermicomposting adventure in general) progresses!

If you have any questions or comments for Mark please be sure to add them below!
8)


Written by Bentley on October 29th, 2009 with 48 comments.
Read more articles on The Share Board and Worm Bins.

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48 comments

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Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Kim from Milwaukee
#1. October 29th, 2009, at 7:30 PM.

Holy crap, that’s a huge worm bin!!!!! What a huge undertaking, Mark!

I’m curious though….won’t that bin heat up by itself w/o the heating elements in the bottom, what with all those perfect layers and the size of the bin? I’ll be waiting for the next installment with bated breath!

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Gwen
#2. October 29th, 2009, at 9:35 PM.

Very nice!!!! I was hoping wehn I saw Oregon siol that you were from Oregon like me!!! Keep us all posted!

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Mark from Kansas
#3. October 30th, 2009, at 12:13 AM.

When I finished adding the contents, the temp. was 50 degrees F. I plugged it in to jump start it. The temps varied from zone to zone till it peaked at 90 degrees F. The temp finally leveled out to around 72 degrees F, I made sure it stayed around 72 degrees till I added the worms. I think I let it sit for 5 days to stablize.

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Kate
#4. October 30th, 2009, at 3:10 AM.

This looks soo cool. I have many questions. How do you harvest the castings? Did you add the heating element because you were in a cold area? I was looking for something larger scale for a school type of application, would this work?

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Mark from Kansas
#5. October 30th, 2009, at 10:55 AM.

Kate,
I don’t see why not. I’ll be posting my 30 day review mid November
Mark

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Mary
#6. October 30th, 2009, at 1:03 PM.

Wow – I loved the photo’s and detailed descriptions. Thanks for sharing.
Mary

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Kim from Milwaukee
#7. October 30th, 2009, at 2:26 PM.

Thanks Mark. That helps, to know that you waited and added the worms after its initial heatup phase. You’re so awesome for posting the detailed step-by-step process you’re taking!!!!

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Dustin
#8. October 30th, 2009, at 11:01 PM.

Mark,
Thanks for sharing the wonderful information. I am curious what type of moisture meter you use (a brand may be helpful) and also what moisture percent you are striving for. What is the reason for adding the oats? A desired nutrient in the end result? Thank you.

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com William
#9. October 30th, 2009, at 11:10 PM.

Hi mark i had a couple of questions. First when the eggs hatch what do you do with the vermicompost in the breeding chamber after the worms all have traveled up? Second, how do the baby worms get through the layers of newspaper? Third, how do you have access to the breeding chamber? Then where did you get the metal mesh or the metal rack from? And finally do you mind sending me some step my step instructions to my email.

Thankyou

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Mark from Kansas
#10. October 31st, 2009, at 12:22 AM.

Dustin,
I use a Rapid Test brand. I am looking for a % of 70 – 85. I added the oats because …. nobody wanted to eat them.
Besides, it like we say around here “WHO IS THROWING AWAY THE GARBAGE?!!!!!!”
Look for further posts about the moisture topic. I made a bin design change.

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Heather
#11. October 31st, 2009, at 1:36 AM.

Awesome–do you think this bin design w/ the C/N ratio would heat too much in a warmer climate or season?

Also, how old are those coffee grounds? They look fairly dry, compared to what I get from home and from my grounds sources.

Thanks for sharing and best of luck from your “neighbor”!

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Mark from Kansas
#12. October 31st, 2009, at 3:37 AM.

Heather,
The coffee grounds are only about 6 weeks old. It’s not that they are dry, they have gray mold, I combusted them.

And as far as C/N goes, it’s in the mix and basic maintenance.
I’ll be posting more updates.

Please stay turned and thanks for your support.
Mark

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Mark from Kansas
#13. October 31st, 2009, at 3:47 AM.

Heather,
I mean stay tuned.
Mark

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Eve
#14. October 31st, 2009, at 5:03 AM.

Mark could you explain a little about the special purpose of breeding chamber? I know it sounds self evident but it seems you put a lot of extra work into building that part of the bin.

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com SoapBoxTech
#15. October 31st, 2009, at 6:55 AM.

Impressive and inspirational indeed. I look forward to hearing more about the breeding chamber.

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Mark from Kansas
#16. October 31st, 2009, at 2:40 PM.

Eve,
After I harvested all of my bins, I had about 100 pounds of finished VC. It was loaded with cocoons. Given the size of this bin and the time it would take for the newspaper, that is over the screen, to rot, This was the good way to breed out the cocoons that I already have. The size of this bin will require more worms.
Basically I needed to increase the population and the solution was at my feet (or in my wheelbarrow).

What do you think of the design of the holding bin? This is what I had been using before the OSCR. I had 2 of these in my house, uncovered and no bugs or smell. I think it is a good starter bin.
Eve, Thank you for commenting and please look for more posts.
Mark

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Mark from Kansas
#17. October 31st, 2009, at 2:43 PM.

Soap Box Tech,
Thank You.
What did you think of my “ultimate ID theft protection” idea?
Mark

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Vicki
#18. November 1st, 2009, at 2:48 AM.

Mark, At one time I was going to build an OSCR but the plans seemed very confusing so I was hoping to buy a worm wigwam instead but really don’t want to spend that much money. Maybe I should get the book out again and study it more. Did you find the plans to be confusing? How long did it take you to build your OSCR?

Vicki

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Eve
#19. November 1st, 2009, at 3:07 AM.

Thanks Mark, I do like the design of your holding bins. I use something similar for my finished compost. But, they are turning out to be too small. Looks like i have just seen the next step up in my vermicompost storage arsenal.

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Mark from Kansas
#20. November 1st, 2009, at 4:30 AM.

Vicki,
The official plans for the OSCR are laid out so you get the most out of your materials. You won’t generate a lot of scrap or have left over materials.
I tried to stay with in their guidlines but I got stumped and I was a steelworker for 13 years before I got into healthcare. If you look at it close you will see how simple it really is. The bottom took the most time, I did a lot of research before I built it. To be honest, I built the grate above the harvest chamber first then everything around it. once that was done, I just did a little whenever I had time.

Look for more detailed pictures soon.

What are your thoughts on processing 1 ton of trash through this bin, how long do you think it will take?
Thank You for commenting
Mark

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Andy
#21. November 1st, 2009, at 5:34 AM.

Interesting. I am having my brother who works with metal build me something similar to this style. It is a style that I borrowed from another website. One thing I have not figured out is what is the metal bar sticking up through the bottom? Does it just hold the heater wire? Also, does the wire sag when the material is added on top of it…or as the material settles over time? Lastly, is there a bar that you can move across the bottom to shake the finished product loose? I do not see that in the photos?

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com shirley
#22. November 1st, 2009, at 5:40 AM.

I like the screen for harvesting. did you build it yourself? how would you suggest someone not as handy to go about making/obtaining one so i don’t have to sift through mine?

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Mark from Kansas
#23. November 1st, 2009, at 2:29 PM.

Andy,
If you are going to use metal, use 1″ square tubular. If I could have welded one together I would have made some design changes but, I don’t have the$$$$. The bar in the middle supports the heater cable, I had to raise it up because the wires will burn if they touch. It also serves as a depth gauge. By the way the bar is a 2 x 4 covered with duct tape. I am one of those that beleives that square footage is better than cubic footage. I let the steel cable sag on purpose to give the weight some place to go. No, there is no bar across the bottom. Due to a small change that I will post later, I don’t think I’ll be doing any scraping.

If you are going to weld one together and need to cut cost, I would spend the money on the harvest screen. I would cut your costs somewhere else.
Thank You for your comments.
Hey Andy,
By the way, what kind of bin are you using now and why do youwant to change?
Just curious.
Mark

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Mike from Delaware
#24. November 1st, 2009, at 5:27 PM.

I just built a OSCR bin according to the plans, or so I thought. I have to agree that the plans are a bit confusing. I thought the heat cable was BELOW the ropes/cables that hold the VC. Your system has the cable in the chamber, right?

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Mike from Delaware
#25. November 1st, 2009, at 5:31 PM.

Sorry, another question. I too think that more ventilation is needed. You said that you installed a 4″ fan to push air into the unit. Do you have pictures of this? I was thinking about putting a solar fan into the lid to pull air into the unit. Which would be best in your opinion? Thanks.

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Mark from Kansas
#26. November 1st, 2009, at 6:06 PM.

Shirley,
It’s real simple. I got some 1/8 “hail screen” from the hardware store.
The frame is four pieces of tomato stakes cut to fit and screwwd together. I put the frame over the screen, bent the screen up over the sides and staple the screen to the frame.
The hail screen is normally 36 inches wide, so make the frame 34 inches wide, that way you can bend it up 1 inch on both sides. If you take your frame to a local hardware store and tell the what you want to do, they should be able to cut the screen down for you.
When you harvest this way, be prepared to find a lot of cocoons and it is easier if your bin is on the dry side.
Good luck! And Thank You for asking.
If you have any more questions let me know.
Mark

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Alan Schatz
#27. November 1st, 2009, at 10:13 PM.

Hi Mark
A wonderful innovation – congratulations!!
Would please like to know how you age your horse manure & coffee grounds.
Do you mix the two? Do you age them dry, or keep them damp?

Regards from sunny South Africa

Alan

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Mark from Kansas
#28. November 1st, 2009, at 10:27 PM.

Mike
The heater cable is 4″ ABOVE the steel ropes, not in the chamber.
As far as the fan goes, I’ll explain that further in a blog update and I do have pictures (your going to like how this works).
Thanks for stopping by
Mark

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Mark from Kansas
#29. November 1st, 2009, at 10:38 PM.

Alan,
I got the horse manure from a friend. I don’t know how old it is, he just makes a huge pile. The manure doesn’t smell. The coffe grounds I added are about 6 weeks old. Have a process that I use that makes them moldy. When it came time to adding them to the bin, I did layer them at the bottom. Later on, I mix the two.

I’ll update this some more later with more pictures.
Hey Alan,
What is your biggest concern with your worms in South Africa?
Thank You
Mark

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Alan Schatz
#30. November 3rd, 2009, at 8:31 PM.

Hi Mark

Thank you for your reply.

Vermiculture in South Africa is quite new, but once people are made aware of the exciting possibilities, not only from a recycling perspective, but fertilizing naturally & restoring the soil
the sky is the limit.

My biggest concern is to educate people, especially children about this natural wonder that is at our finger tips.

I started vermicomposting as a hobby & I now do it on a full time basis. I do demonstrations at schools, informal outdoor markets, horticultual societies etc. With the assistance of local newspapers I regulary have competitions to win wormeries.
I am currently doing tests with golf courses to get them to fertilize naturally, & ultimately make them self sustainable by making their own vermicompost & brewing their own worm tea.
Keep up the good work & look foreward to hearing more about your success story.

Happy worming

Alan

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Bob Koepsel
#31. November 3rd, 2009, at 9:01 PM.

Mark please tell us where you bought the small heating element. I have a worm wigwam and the wire broke from rust, I need to replace it but I can only fint the real wide heating wire for pipes.

Thanks,

Bob from Milwaukee

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Mark from Kansas
#32. November 4th, 2009, at 12:07 AM.

Hi Bob,
I got the heater cable from Vermico. It is about twelve feet long. The only draw back is that the cable can’t touch itself, you risk melting and cause a short.
How long have you had the Wigwam and how well does it work for you?

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com catherine
#33. November 4th, 2009, at 12:48 PM.

Hi Mark- Great looking bin- I have one similar, but not nearly as high tech, and outdoors. I gave up on the idea of a scraper bar to harvest, though because I just wasn’t handy enough in the tool shed!
I wonder about your heat cables- is there not a danger, even though you’ve raised them on the metal bar, that they will be dragged down by the compost as it forms and is weighted from above? Even a grape stem (or any kind of plastic string/ bag which contaminates waste) could catch around it and as it continues downwards bring the cable with it. Where it could meet another crossed cable.
Also, maybe my conditions in general aren’t as good as yours- but if I get any kind of warm spot in my bin- the worms all cluster there! Not sure if they’re after the heat or the increased microbial activity associated with heat.
I tried heating a can-o-worms (stacking wormery) last winter just by heating up a microwaveable mud heatign pack and wrapping it loads of newspaper. It stayed warm to touch for 24 hours or so.
One thing I noted was that the heat worked much better at the top- (presumably by helping the food to rot), but to my surprise, the lower layer compost was also much more friable when heat was applied from the top. I can only assume this was because the hot air rising out of the top of the wormery drew air in at the bottom (I leave the sump tap open). I don’t have the OSCR plans, so I don’t know where they apply heat, but applying from the top (and insulating above) might solve the danger of wires crossing. You could simply fix the wire to a cloth in a wavy non crossing pattern and then stiffen by sticking the cloth to some kind of insulating board.

Sorry- this is probably just about as clear as well processed vermicompost! Just thinking out loud….

Best of luck with the bin and looking forward to updates. (I have a picture of my bin here

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Mike from Delaware
#34. November 4th, 2009, at 5:07 PM.

Catherine: thanks for confirming my concerns. I have the plans for the OSCR bin and was confused about where the heat cable is supposed to be. I thought it was supposed to be below the cables/ropes. Vermico told me that the cables they sell go in the bin just like I’m seeing here. I have heard of a number of worm farms having fires and got concerned. There are dry spots in the bin and I don’t want the heat cable to start a fire. So, I decided to go with the 5 gallon bucket with aquarium heater and waterfall pump. Installed it last night. It took time for the little heater to bring the water temp up but it’s running now with a water temp in the low 70′s. I can sleep at night without worrying.

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Mark from Kansas
#35. November 5th, 2009, at 12:12 AM.

Dearest Catherine and Mike,
Your concerns are very valid, one can’t be too careful.
I choose the heater cable from Vermico because they have worked hard to be a reputable company. I don’t believe they would sell a product that they did not believe in first. When I purchased this cable, I felt that if the cable would start a fire, Vermico would have pulled it from their shelf. This is actually the second winter I used this cable so, I have tested it. If you look close at the pictures, the heater cable is attached to .083 weed trimmer cord.That green cord is stretched tightly to reduce sag.
I believe a small risk maybe possible. A ground fault intercepter would reduce to the fire risk to almost zero.
Catherine, I set my thermometer in different zones in the bin, the temp stays even at 80 degrees F. Warm air rises and I have decided to turn the fan on for 1 hour a day.
You guys ask some tough questions, Please keep them coming.
Best always
Mark

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Bentley
#36. November 5th, 2009, at 8:12 PM.

WOW – the response to this post is just mind-boggling! Thanks everyone! (and of course, THANKS to Mark for sharing).
Well Mark has certainly been doing an outstanding job responding to comments here, so I won’t add anything further. I did however want to jump in and tell Catherine how cool her bin looks! Very nice indeed.
You mentioned not having a breaker bar – do you harvest with a rake/broom, or something like that?
Cool stuff!
8)

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com catherine
#37. November 5th, 2009, at 11:30 PM.

Very low tech harvesting I’m afraid- I only surface feed, never bury anything, so all I’ve had to do is scrape back the top few inches to get good compost below. As the bin has only been running about 4 months and still hasn’t a huge worm population, I’d say what I harvested is probably only about 50% castings at most.
In spring, when every thing has warmed up again, and any cocoons have hatched, I plan to feed heavily for a couple of weeks, do a complete scrape off of the top layer, dig out the compost off the grate, and put back worms and top layer as bottom layer. I can’t see myself producing enough waste to have to do this more often than once, or maybe at the outside, twice a year. I calculated that the bin could take about 1-2000kg of waste in a year (depending on worm population/ type of waste etc) and that will easily compress down into that volume.

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com rosita guinaat
#38. December 8th, 2009, at 11:49 PM.

Wow! what an organic mind! The trend is we are going organic because the inorganic century has marked effects in the environment and climate change is now a global issue.

your newsletter on worming the environment in lieu of synthetic fertilizers he he he will surely help resolve the global issue.

But beware many fertilizer companies will run after you. hehehe. Don’t worry nobody can put a good man down.

Keep up with your good work!

God bless.

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Mark from Kansas
#39. December 10th, 2009, at 12:52 AM.

Rosita,
What is also interesting is the volume of trash reduction. I hope to process 2000 pounds of trash into 200 pounds of finished Vermicompost.
Just think how much landfills could be reduced by process and besides, a worm bin does not give off methane gas (an ozone depleting gas).
Speaking of fertilizer, synthetic fertilizers are fossil fuel based, a NON renewable resource.

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Ron Thompson
#40. December 14th, 2009, at 4:05 AM.

Mark,
It looks like you did not use a nylon rope at the bottom, but used a metal grid panel, and I saw the same type metal panel at the OSCR website. Where did you get it???
Ron Thompson in San Jose

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Mark from Kansas
#41. December 14th, 2009, at 11:37 PM.

Ron,
The metal grid panel you speak of is not a panel at all and I’m not sure I should tell. OK I will. What you are seeing, from the first picture of me in the bottom, is 5/32 steel cable. I made a frame and drilled holes about 2 inches apart, threaded it through the holes, and stretch it. It was a lot of work.
How many worms are you going to put in bin?

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Jamas von Rockmann
#42. January 13th, 2010, at 9:24 AM.

Friends of the earth, Fellow Vermiculturist. Im enjoying your website, I presently am working 2 wigwams, 2 55ga. barrels cut down the middle ( trough like) these are butted together and covered with a hoop coldframe. I have pvc pipe serpentining through them coming from the heater room in my house. the water being pumped with a simple aquarium pump. Im in the Pacific Northwest of America, 20′s 30′s the low temps. the beds stay 70-75* I also am experimenting with a 3 w x 8 l x 3 d wood box bin with pvc pipe running thru horse manure heaps( composting heat) packed all around the bin. I’ve been at this almost 2 yrs. I started 15 breeder boxes 17in.x14in.these have 1/3 vc/horse, 1/3 peat,2cups cornmeal,1/3 topsoil(mature compost garden soil,chopped lettuce,squash,coffee grounds.) 1/2 pound worms. these I only keep damp, no food for 7-9 wks. I then pull the worms and the compost remaining is LOADED with eggs. I sell this for people to spread over their lawns, veg. gardens etc. the eggs can stay dormant for months at 45-55* so I stock up.sold and spread in the spring, at 65-70 they hatch and the results from last year incredible ! I’ve tripled my box count, once dumped I refill and put the worms right back in, their off eating and screwin righy away, laying eggs every 5-8 days. sorry to go on here, I’ve gotten most my book learning from Thomas J. Barrett and Dr. George Sheffield Oliver. I wanted to share this website with you, you may already know of it “journey to forever” this link will take to my favorite story. http://journeytoforever.org/farm_library/oliver/oliver_farm.html Enjoy !!

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Rich from MN
#43. March 23rd, 2010, at 8:34 PM.

I have the plans in hand to build a OSCR bin and the heat cables and the weed eater cord.
What I am wondering about is that I will be using African Nightcrawlers which I am told like to stay near the bottom of any bin they are in. I would like to include some type of breaker bar in my OSCR bin. So my quesions are has anyone used Africans in a OSCR bin and what is the best way to harvest the vermicast and separate out the cocoons.
Mark did you find that the fan helped? It wasn’t included in the plans but sounds like it would be a good add on. Do you have details on here on how to install it and what kind you used?
What do you use for a hatchery?
Sorry about so many questions just excited and anxious to get things going!

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Mike from Delaware
#44. March 30th, 2010, at 1:52 PM.

I’ll jump in here with a comment. I’m not familiar with African nightcrawlers but am familiar with Euros. They sound similar in their preference for the bottom of the bin.

I suspect that there were Euros mixed in with the 10 lb of worms I put into my OSCR. It has taken several months of “rescuing” them from the harvest chamber. I think I’m finally past it. A lot of worms tended to fall through and die in the trays in the harvest chamber. I put moist coir in there to keep them moist so I could rescue them every couple of days.

I strongly suspect that worms that prefer the bottom of the bin won’t do well in an OSCR. It was designed for surface feeding worms like red wigglers.
Mike

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com LARRY D.
#45. August 28th, 2010, at 2:54 PM.

Hey Mark.I’m about a year late on commenting on this one.But thanks for the inspiration that got me to build my 4′x8′bin.I’ve had no regrets.And this system works better than i could have ever hoped for.
In the near future(fall)i plan to start my next project.A big bin along the same lines made with two boat trailers(free).And i plan to incorporate a breaker bar into this one.It will have room for my later additions,including testing using solar power,and other things that can simplify vermicomposting in general.But i also,can’t afford to lose my worms.Some times you gotta do what you gotta do.
I wish i was as good at documenting things as you are.But i am a guesser,and my totals may be way off.I hope if you ever improve upon your stuff,you will document it so we can get a grasp on the good workings of an improved flowthru system.
But these are among the best i’ve found for any one that has the room.And you can even help your neighbors to compost their garbage too!
Keep up the good work! Sorry for the late comment.But i’ve never been accused of following directions.A compost blunder here and there along the way! But i’m still vcing!

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Garry from BC
#46. January 4th, 2011, at 6:44 AM.

Hi Mark! I have gotten the clearance (haha) to build an absolutely massive system on my dad’s farm. He already has a huge goat manure compost pile, and it is absolutely loaded with red wigglers! Sorry to make this a long one. What I was wondering was, what would you consider the most essential elements of a large system like this, or even bigger.

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com charu rachlis
#47. October 26th, 2011, at 3:34 PM.

Hi Mark,
I have a worm bin – the one that has 3 layers – and on the bottom – a can colletct the ‘worm tea’.
My problem is how to harvest????
I have everything going on just fine. The worms are happy – the eat the food, smells like earth, the only problem is when I go to pick up the good stuff.
Can you pls. advice me on this.
It is so frustrating, I get to have the beautiful black gold but the worms are in it, it is so so hard to separate them. You can call stupid, and what I do is to get as much as possible with some worms then I pland on my garden or the vegetable garden with the worms, I figured that is going to improve the soil any ways, but I would love to get only the black gold…. so here you have!
thank you so much,
charu

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Bev
#48. March 7th, 2012, at 1:23 PM.

Question about heating. Planning on building a large outdoor flow through bin and was going to put in heating wire. which is best, heat source on the top suspended above the bin (which will be insolated), or having the wires about half way, or near the bottom?

Iam hoping to have a 2″w x 8″ L x 3″ d bin. with wire mesh bottom, no breaker bar

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