As many of you probably know, I recently completed the upgrade guide for the larger versions of the VB24 – the VB48 and VB96 bins – and have added it to the VB24 Plans Package.
To provide more info about the plans, and the package as a whole, I’ve decided to dust off the “VB24 Q&A” from last fall and tweak it so as to reflect all the new updates.
*** UPDATE 2019 – Click Here to Access Newest Sales Page for VB Plans Package ***
I purchased the VB24 plans (or received them via another promotion) previously. Do I get a discount on this “upgrade”?
You sure do! All previous customers (including those who received the plans as part of the “Complete Guide ‘pre-launch'” promotion last fall) are entitled to take advantage of all upgrades at no additional charge. If you can’t remember your login info etc, just drop me an email and let me know.
What all do I get when I order this package?
There are currently three different guides available to customers:
1) Main VB24 building and set-up guide – this contains blueprints and instructions for constructing the VB24, as well as info to help people properly set up their VermBin flow-through system.
2) Neil’s VB24 Photo Journal – one of our customers was so enthusiastic about his own VB24 building experience that he documented the whole thing and allowed us to make it available to other members.
3) VermBin Upgrade Guide – this guide contains information relating to the construction of the larger versions of the VB24, the VB48 and VB96.
The package goes well beyond these guides however – not only are customers entitled to all future updates (at no additional cost), but I will be essentially creating a full VermBin membership. Originally, the RWC private member’s area (forum etc) was reserved for the “Complete Guide to Vermicomposting” customers (which, thus far, have only been those who took advantage of the “pre-launch” last fall) – but I will actually be creating a new “home” for that group (so yes, all you patient pre-launchers do have a treat in store for you – and you will still have full access to the VermBin member’s area).
What format are these guides delivered in? Will I receive them in the mail?
The guides are made available as PDF documents (requiring Adobe Reader to open – virtually every computer already has this installed though, so no worries). They can be downloaded inside the VermBin member’s area. Nothing will be mailed to you.
What are the advantages of electronic format?
1) You don’t have to wait for them (once you are registered successfully for the member’s area)
2) As long as you have an internet connection and can use either of our payment handlers (Paypal or 2Checkout), you can order (and access the plans) from anywhere in the world.
3) As touched on earlier, you have access to a dynamic membership (with future updates included) – not just a static hard-copy set of plans.
4) Also helps to keep the pricing fairly low since no printing/binding etc expenses (obviously, there are other expenses, but they tend to be less)
Will I be able to print these guides/plans out?
Absolutely! I’ve added some security features to help reduce copying/sharing of the documents, but printing is obviously allowed and I totally understand the desire/need to do so.
Can I share these guides/plans with others?
Each package is licensed to a single person – and your contact information is stamped into all of the documents – but there’s obviously only so much you can do to prevent people from sharing electronic files. All I ask is that you keep your sharing within reason (family members etc), and whenever possible please refer people to the site if they have an interest in the VermBin plans. Remember, money generated from the sale of the package (and other products sold on this site) helps to support the continued development of Red Worm Composting.
How much will it cost for the supplies needed to build these bins?
There is obviously no set-in-stone answer for this since it will depend on a range of different factors, such as where you live and how determined you are to save money. Based on the estimates received from Joe Denial (designer) and Neil, I’d say that it’s likely to cost somewhere in the vicinity of $75-$125 USD for the VB24, if you are buying all new materials.
I was surprised to learn from Joe that the larger models might not cost all that much more. His estimate for the VB96 (which he himself has built) is $150-$175 USD – so it’s probably fair to say that the VB48 will likely be somewhere in between.
I have little doubt that there are plenty of people out there who will be able to construct the bins for less than that though. I’ve already had one report from a customer who managed to build their entire bin (which was actually a 6′ long modified version) using reclaimed materials!
Will I need any specialized equipment to build them?
Another one that’s a bit difficult to answer since “specialized” is somewhat subjective. If you are a completely non-DIY person and have no tools whatsoever, you will likely need to buy, borrow (or steal? lol) some in order to build one of these bins. That said, my prediction is that most people interested in these plans would have most of the equipment needed to put them together. The only additional tool-related item Neil had to purchase was a 1″ drill bit if I remember correctly.
As Joe points out in the main guide, there are certainly some items that will help to make the construction process a fair bit easier, but really only a small handful of tools that are vitally important.
What level of skill is required to build a VB24?
As a self-described “DIY Dummy”, my gut feeling is that the VB24 bin would be a “medium” level project – while the larger bins would be a little more challenging. Anyone with a decent amount of DIY experience would likely consider them relatively easy I suspect. If you are not very comfortable with tools, my recommendation would definitely be to find a friend or family member who can help you (not a bad idea regardless of your level of skill actually – and especially with the larger bins). I have plans to construct my own VB48, and feel pretty good about my chances of successfully completing this bin – but I am still enlisting the help of my dad since having a second set of hands will just generally help the process to go a bit more smoothly.
How big are these bins?
As the name implies, the main VB24 bin itself is basically a 24″x24″x24″ box. It stands 42″ off the ground (without wheels).
The actual internal volume is somewhat less (than 24″x24″x24″) – with the insulation panels it works out to somewhere in the range of 6 cu ft or so. I consider the Worm Inn to be a decent sized system, and it is about 2 cu ft – so hopefully that gives some perspective.
The VB48 and VB96 bins measure 48″x24″x24″ and 96″x24″x24″, respectively – both also standing 42″ off the ground. Assuming my math is correct (lol), the internal volume – with insulation panels – is roughly 13 cu ft for the VB48 and 27 cu ft for the VB96. Not too shabby!
How many worms should I stock them with?
I like to do things my own way, and never use any specific guidelines when stocking a new system. When I stock my own VB48 (once built) I can guarantee I’ll just add a whole bunch of wormy material from another system (my preferred method for starting up a new bin/bed). Neil stocked his VB24 with 5 lb of Red Worms, and they ended up doing well. I definitely wouldn’t start with any more than that, though – and really, you’d probably do just fine with 1-3 lb.
Obviously, with the larger bins it might make sense to start with 5 lb or more – but it’s totally up to you. Red Worms reproduce pretty quickly, so as long as you don’t mind being a little more patient, even a fairly modest starting population should work just fine.
What kind worms should I stock them with?
I think it’s safe to say that Red Worms (Eisenia fetida/andrei), Blue Worms (Perionyx excavatus) and African Nightcrawlers (Eudrilus eugeniae) could all do very well in a VermBin system. Red Worms would (naturally) be my #1 recommended choice – since they tend to be the most versatile, but either of the other two might be better suited for situations where the system will need to cope with (consistently) really high temperatures.
I’m sure some people are wondering about European Nightcrawlers (Eisenia hortensis | Dendrobaena veneta). I don’t know of anyone who has tried to raise these worms in one of these bins, but my gut feeling is that they wouldn’t be the ideal choice. Like Red Worms, they are quite versatile, but they tend to prefer systems with a higher moisture content. They also seem to like diving down deep in whatever system they are in, so that may defeat the purpose of having a flow-through bin. I tried raising them in one of my Worm Inns once and this is exactly what they did (congregated down at the bottom). Bottom-line, I’m sure you COULD raise them in a VermBin, but you might be better off using a bin with solid bottom.
I also wouldn’t recommend using any of the soil or semi-soil worms such as Jumpers (Amynthas sp) or the other “Red Worms” (Lumbricus rubellus).
How many lb of waste per day can I process with a VB24/VB48/VB96?
This is a question I have always tried to steer clear of, regardless of the system being used. There are countless variables that can affect the processing speed of a vermicomposting system. Here are some common ones: 1) temperature, 2) size of worm population, 3) maturity of the system, 4) type of waste being added, 5) waste handling practices (pre-composting? grinding? etc etc), 6) experience level of person taking care of system, 7) moisture content. This is definitely something I plan to test once I’ve got my own VB48 up and running, but even then I’ll be left with a set of results that apply to my own situation (certainly not set-in-stone numbers that everyone can expect to see with their own system).
Bottom-line, it’s almost certainly going to be a LOT more than your run-of-the-mill home “worm bin” (especially with the larger VermBins)
Should I use this bin outside or inside?
The VermBins should work just fine outside – but for the best results, my recommendation is to keep them in a location with a controlled (or at least semi-controlled) environment. This is especially true if you live in a region that experiences heat and/or cold extremes.
Apart from the external environment affecting the vermicomposting process, it can also affect the bin itself. Obviously, a VermBin sitting outside exposed to the elements won’t last quite as long as one sitting indoors.
Which brings us to…
If I’m keeping my bin(s) outside should I use pressure-treated lumber to build it?
Generally, I’d recommend steering clear of the pressure-treated wood if you can. In all honesty, my own backyard wooden worm bin (not a “vermbin” – I made it quite a few years ago) was build with pressure-treated lumber, and even Neil used it for his own VB24 – but it’s important to point out that there are other options available.
I’ve been told there is at least one type of “eco-friendly” pressure-treated wood now on the market. You might also consider using some sort of non-toxic wood preservative, such as Valhalco’s “Lifetime Wood Treatment”.
Can this bin be used when the weather is cold?
The designs DO feature (optional) insulation panels, and as mentioned above they also hold a decent volume of material. That being said, it’s important that people don’t assume this means they are “winter bins”. I’m sure with some sort of small external heat source it would be a lot easier to keep them from freezing out in a uninsulated garage (for example) during winter than if using a regular plastic tub system – but please do keep in mind that there’s probably only so much you can expect as far as self-heating (and heat retention) goes.
On a related note…
Should I use the insulation panels if I live in a hot location (i.e. will they help to keep the bin cool)?
I honestly wouldn’t recommend using the insulation panels when temperatures are really high – unless you plan on doing some sort of frozen water bottle rotation inside the bin to keep temps down – since they will likely help to create an even more hazardous environment for the worms. Unlike the wooden outer walls, the insulation won’t offer any “breathability” – so you won’t get as much evaporative cooling, and oxygen levels may get pretty low in parts of the system as well.
Although we haven’t tested out any VermBin systems in extreme heat yet, my suspicion is that the worms would do quite well (again, assuming the insulation panels were not installed).
What makes a VermBin “better” than a Rubbermaid tub system?
Where do I start? (lol)
1) There is a MUCH better air-flow/moisture balance, so the composting zone will stay much more oxygenated – this is vitally important for any sort of aerobic composting process (as you might imagine). This results is…
2) Faster waste processing and…
3) Better quality end product.
4) Obviously, the fact that it’s a flow-through bin means that harvesting castings/vermicompost will also be a lot easier (more on that in a minute).
Will a VermBin system dry out really easily?
With increased air flow there can often be increased risk of drying out, but the VermBins should actually retain moisture quite well – especially if you choose to install the insulation panels. You may need to add water from time to time (certainly the case if it’s outside during hot/dry weather), but it won’t likely be as problematic as some other wooden bins.
How do I harvest castings from this bin? Is there some sort of harvesting mechanism incorporated into the design?
This is pretty straight-forward. Simply use some sort of fork, rake or brush to scrape material down through the floor bars. At this time there is no scraping bar or anything like that included in the design – the idea was to keep the bin as simple (while still effective) as possible.
Here is a harvesting update from Joe Denial (shared earlier in the year) relating to his own VB96 system: Joe’s VB96 Update
When can I start harvesting castings from the bin, and how often can castings be harvested?
This will of course vary from system to system (again, remember all those variables we talked about earlier). Generally speaking, you should probably be prepared to wait at least 3-6 months or so before your first harvest. In the VB24 guide I included a strong recommendation for the installation of some sort of “false bottom” using cardboard/newsprint etc. The original idea was that once this had broken down completely (assuming it was reasonably thick) you would be well on your way to being able to harvest finished material from the bottom.
As Joe discovered, with a thick false bottom installed, you may end up waiting a loooong time for it to completely break down. He actually had to cut most of his out with a utility knife (and keep in mind, he held off from performing his first harvest until nearly a year after he first set up the bin). That being said, the benefits of having a thick bottom definitely outweigh any “inconvenience” associated with having to remove it for your first harvest (Joe’s first attempt at creating a false bottom actually resulted in worms escaping from the bottom of the bin).
Once you’ve done your first harvest, you should be able to scrape out finished material on more of a regular basis. Joe recently told me that he only wants to do a harvest once per year – every spring, so he can use the material in his garden. That is simply his personal choice, however, not a requirement/recommendation.
One other tidbit worth mentioning – apart from making sure a fair amount of time has passed before your first harvest, you should also be aiming to build up the levels of material in the bin close to the top so that most of the worms will mainly be concentrated in the upper half of of the system.
Can I promote the plans package and earn money?
I’ve been meaning to set up an affiliate program for VB24 plans for quite some time – with the newly revitalized package this is definitely an idea I will be revisiting again soon. Basically this would be intended for those who have their own website(s), and would involve simply referring people to the sales page via a banner or basic link (these would contain a special affiliate link so any sales that resulted from the referral would be tracked). This will be based on interest levels, however. So, if you think you might be interested please drop me an email.
I hope this answers most of the common questions that people have! If you do have any others, please feel free to add them to the comments section of this post.
If you think you might be interested in purchasing this package and/or learning more, you can do so >>HERE<<
Brainstorming…. In hot weather location, Is it possible to drill one inch holes around the side of the VB, instead of placing insulation, use the mesh (the one that you used for VC sifter) and line the inside of the VB. This would allow a lot more airflow to cool the bin down while keeping the materials inside.
I have 100 F plus weather here now and I have to leave a box fan next to the two worm inns to help cool it down.
I think that’s a great idea and something that would definitely help to keep the system a bit cooler. The trade-off, of course, is that it would dry out more quickly. Positioning the holes in the middle or upper reaches of the bin would likely be best so as to avoid excess drying of the bottom.
Great reading as usual. Sadly, i have ongoing rat problems with my Worm Bungalow; despite screening and trapping they still manage to find ways in. How rat-proof would you consider the VB24?
Interesting question, Gail – not something I’ve given much thought to.
With the lid (that could be secured with a padlock etc if you wanted to) and the fairly narrow openings in the grate floor (plus being raised up off the ground), my hunch is that rodents wouldn’t end up giving you trouble (especially while you have the “false bottom” in place – but it’s hard to say for sure.
I went ahead & ordered the plans (can’t resist the last days of a sale you know!) so will let you know how/if the rats like it, once it’s built & filled.
LoL – thanks very much, Gail!
I’ve been considering a worm bin and found your site. Good info and I think I’ll order the plans for a 24×24 to see how things go.
Chief Fels (Phil)
Great, Phil! Don’t hesitate to drop me a line if you have any questions.
I’m considering a VB24 to augment my stacked bin collection. I notice the VB24 pics show wheels which would be very handy. But how much does a full VB24 weigh??
Hard to say for sure how much these systems will weigh. The VB96 pictured above would certainly be many hundreds of pounds once full – and Joe hasn’t had any issues supporting the weight with his wheels.
I have a VB48 myself, but never bothered to install the wheels.
I was guesstimating about 60 lbs per cubic foot for vermicompost. So, in the unlikely event of being completely full, a VB24 would hold 360 lbs. I’m building a farm house / workshop and trying figure out where the worms go and how to move them next year. Wheels would be nice but I notice Joe had his VB96 on blocks in the pics.