The Creepy Pants Vermicomposter
If you didn’t think I was kooky already, this post should put you over the edge!
Some time ago this bizarre idea for a vermicomposting system popped into my head. I was thinking of ways to make a simple ‘continuous flow’ system that would allow you to easily collect castings without having to worry about separating out the worms later.
Continuous flow systems, like the one I’m using for my 4 worm experiment are great because they take advantage of a composting worm’s tendency to follow a food source (whether it be in an upwards or sideways direction) and move away from their own waste (worm castings). Like my wooden stackable bin, most of these types of systems are rigid containers of some sort.
The inspiration for my ‘creepy pants’ idea came from the landscape cloth funnel vermicomposter of the ‘Digestive Table‘, and a commercial system known as the ‘Swag’ (see video below).
These systems are brilliant in that they involve a much simpler design, are far less expensive to make, and are very easy to use. I figured I would take it even one step further and come up with a system that utilizes something most people already have – old jeans (or any other pants) that no longer get worn. They have a considerable volume capacity, so you could likely process quite a bit of waste and house a lot of worms. They are also very breathable so they will provide ample aeration, but still thick enough of keep out a lot of light.
Yesterday, I finally decided to make one of these systems for myself. As mentioned recently, I have a lot of aged manure and new Red Wigglers so I figured it was a prime opportunity to set up some new systems.
Normally, I would set the pants system up exactly the same way I set up a regular worm bin. I would mix a lot of food waste with shredded cardboard, then simply let it sit for a week or two. For this system however, because I already have this nicely aged manure and worms I can get started right away (since the manure provides habitat and food for the worms). All I did was 1) Hang the pants from one of my basement ceiling supports, 2) Close off each of the legs using a pull-tie (cable tie?), 3) Add some shredded ‘egg carton cardboard’ in the bottom of each pant leg (for moisture absorption), then 4) Add aged manure and worms to each of the legs. Now they are ready to receive food scraps (I’ll likely add some more worms first though since I want this system to work quickly).
You would likely need to add water to a system like this since a considerable amount of moisture will pass through and evaporate from the pants. If you keep your pants composter outside, I would recommend hanging it in a shady location – from a shady tree perhaps? I think this would be a really fun project for kids.
Once your system is totally full you can start testing out the vermicompost in the bottom of the pant legs. Simply loosen the pull-ties and let some of the material drop down into a bucket. If it looks good you can harvest some of it from both legs. One other possible idea, if you don’t want to bother emptying it at all – you could probably remove a lot of worms from the upper layers then simply turn the system into an outdoor planter. Cut slits down the pant legs and insert young plants (herbs would work very well) directly into the vermicompost. You can then move it to a sunny location to allow the plants to grow – just make sure to keep it well watered since it will likely dry out very quickly!
So there you have it – the ‘Creepy Pants Vermicomposter’. Try it out for yourself!
Just so ya know, I’m also going to put together a quick video about this system, and will of course keep you posted on how it is working for me.
Oh, and by the way – in case you are wondering about the name – you try hanging a pair of empty pants from your ceiling and see if you aren’t just a little bit creeped out too!
Kind reminds me of that Dr. Seuss story…
…I was deep within the woods
when suddenly I spied them.
I saw a pair of pale green pants
with nobody inside them.
I wasn’t scared but yet I stopped.
What could those pants be there for
What could a pair of pants at night
be standing in the air for?
Excerpt from What Was I Scared Of? in “The Sneetches and Other Stories” by Dr. Seuss.