The World’s Smallest Worm Bin?

I recently alluded to the fact that when you are a true “worm-head” you see the world through a different lens. Countless containers, and other miscellaneous items suddenly seem like they would be “good for vermicomposting”.

So, this morning as I was brushing my teeth and staring idly at one of my wife’s itty bitty containers of skin cream (that she likely didn’t pay itty bitty $$ for), inspiration struck me like a lightning bolt! And a voice inside my head said:

You must make the world’s smallest worm bin…today!

(Or something along those lines)

As I wandered around the house looking for teeny tiny, but empty, skin cream containers – with zero success – I came upon a sight so incredible, I was at a loss for words (I wrote “worms” the first time).

The 100% perfect, itsy bitsy, teeny tiny bin – on a keychain no less – for the project.

I immediately started formulating my gameplan.

First, I would need to put some air holes in my teeny tiny bin – worms need oxygen!

So, I grabbed a paper clip and a bbq lighter and got to work. (Oh, and I should mention I also grabbed a pair of pliers – after all, it is very difficult to set up a teeny tiny worm bin with burnt fingers).

After melting some holes I suddenly realized there were already two “big” holes in the lid. You can see one of them in the picture below.

A worm bin just looks better with air holes in it, so I continued to melt more holes anyway. The next shot shows off my incredible hole-melting craftmanship, and how big the bin is compared to a Canadian quarter (our coins are the same size as American coins – but with more animals on them).

What is this? A center for ants? The building has to be at least three times bigger than this! ~ Derek Zoolander

Next, it was time to prepare my food scraps and bedding. I used banana peel, cantaloupe (a worm favorite), and lettuce for my food. Shredded cardboard for my bedding.

The first step for setting up the bin involved creating a “false bottom” of cardboard. As you can see in the second image, it was pretty thick but didn’t come up as far as the air holes.

Then it was time to add my food scraps. I didn’t go too crazy, since it is important to be careful about over-feeding – especially early on!

Everything was still a little on the dry side at this point, so I decided to add some water.

Tilting the bin a bit, I could see there was pooling down in the bottom. I normally discourage this, but in this case I’m not too worried.

These next shots gives you some idea for how much material was still left by this point. We should have plenty of good stuff to keep this baby humming along for months!

Of course, I was still only part way there with the worm bin set-up. I still needed my worms, and some microbes!

I collected a tiny bucket of “living material”, and four Red Worm cocoons, and then added everything to the bin.

Turns out there was even a cocoon in my bucket, so that brings our total to five! I used my tiny worm bin tool to work everything in a bit (more than you see in image above) – this should help the cocoons stay moist and close to the food.

Last, but certainly not least, I finished things off by adding a cover layer of dry bedding.

In case you didn’t notice it earlier, I also added a homemade label for my bin…just to make sure that no one mistakes it for a tiny lunch box, or anything like that.

With my new tiny bin all set up and ready to go, I thought it might be fun to test out the keychain apparatus.

It worked.

I might have to wait a few weeks, but I can’t wait to take my little worm buddies for walks around town and stuff like that.

Maybe I should e-mail Guiness Book of World Records and see if I can make it the “official” smallest worm bin in the world.

Even if it’s not, I think it’s going to be a pretty sweet little system!

OK OK…”normal” Bentley here again.

I realize all this must seem overly silly to some…

…BUT, as per sometimes, there is actually some method to this madness.

A point I try to hammer home, as much as I can, is the incredible ability of composting worms to adapt to their environment. Once some little hatchlings emerge, they certainly won’t be moaning and gnashing their non-existet teeth about their cramped livings conditions. NO, they will be adjusting their (instictive) gameplan based on the conditions and resources available to them.

I am actually super interested to see what sort of impact the size of this system will have on population growth – and the size of the worms for that matter.

Speaking of size, I should probably share the actual dimensions of this bin.

I felt it was only fitting that I measured them using the tiny measuring tape that came with it (as part of a mini toolkit my wife and kids gave to me as a gag gift).

The overall dimensions are approximately 2.5″ (L) x 1.5″ (W) x 1.5″ (H) – but the actual worm zone is more like 2.5″ x 1.5″ x 1.125″.

In other words, we’re talkin about a whopping 4.22 cubic inches of worm composting power under the hood!

I’m looking forward to seeing how this system develops in the weeks ahead – and will be sure to keep everyone posted.

Stay tuned!

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    • Kirsti
    • October 31, 2020

    Favourite post yet.

    I wonder how your day would sound written from your wife’s perspective… She must have some real good stories πŸ˜‰

    • Pierre
    • October 31, 2020

    Hahahahaha. You’re such a worm nerd. Love it.

    If this is successful, I think it’s make a great conversation piece to bring to parties.

    • amy
    • October 31, 2020

    This is an excellent conceptual artwork. A+

    • Bentley
    • October 31, 2020

    Kirsti – that is too funny, and would certainly provide an interesting spin on things! πŸ˜‰ Glad you enjoyed it!

    Pierre – very true! And I agree…this could lead to some interesting future social interactions. πŸ˜‰

    AMY!! I didn’t even realize you still followed the blog. As “amateur” as I consider this project to be, I kept thinking of your work as I put my little worm bin together.

    • Zanne
    • October 31, 2020

    Not being really on Facebook I haven’t had a chance to get jaded about this concept, so I’ve been sitting here just laughing away! Glad it’s you, and not someone sending me a pic asking if I think it’s just so cute. πŸ˜‰

    I was worried about you there a few times. First, never make my mistake. A tiny smear in the bottom of those itty bitty face cream pots is apparently *NOT an empty pot*. Woops. Then I got worried about the key chain box being significant to someone else in your house minus air holes. LOL Glad you cleared that up. Bet your wife has some funny day in the life tales!

    • kate
    • October 31, 2020

    I’ve got one of those keychains…..hummm……

    • Andy D
    • November 1, 2020

    Love it! It’s so helpful to have these occasional reminders that there are many ways to keep worms, even tiny reminders like this one. πŸ™‚

    I was showing a friend our composting tower (keyhole-type raised-bed arrangement) a couple days ago and as I was stirring the compost and bringing “deep” compost to the top, I showed him the worms and more worms and more worms and my heart was warmed (I almost wrote “wormed”!) to see so many of them helping make our vegetables even better. <3

    • Bentley
    • November 1, 2020

    ZANNE – glad you enjoyed it (and don’t need to deal with Facebook – lol). You likely wouldn’t be the first person to “worry” about me – or the last! I think I worry about myself even MORE – ha! πŸ˜‰
    I actually love my little measuring tape – use it quite a bit – but it has had a permanent home outside of the box for quite some time now. Haven’t really done much with the mini screw drivers yet but I’m not too worried about them getting displaced. πŸ˜‰

    KATE – Go for it! You can tie me for the world record! Haha πŸ˜‰

    ANDY – your comment ‘wormed’ my heart in more ways than one. πŸ˜‰ It is amazing how good it feels to share vermicomposting with others, and get them excited about it!

    • Andy D
    • November 1, 2020

    @Bentley- long ago, when I first was putting my toe in the vermicomposting world, you gently replied to my “confession” that up to that point, we’d “just” thrown our kitchen scraps into the slightly-wooded area behind our house since that felt a lot better to my spouse and me than throwing it all into a trash bag headed for a landfill. That helped me see the reality that even the tiniest effort to put our kitchen scraps to a “better” use is a positive. Unlikely that you remember that first-ish interaction of ours, but I (obviously!) still remember it to this day and, if I’m honest, that exchange helped me see how useful it is to hold gentleness and baby steps as a value for myself and others. So… A long overdue THANK YOU! <3

    • Bentley
    • November 1, 2020

    Exactly, Andy!! It’s unfortunate that many have this “all or nothing” attitude about environmental actions. Eventually even the tiniest snowflake can lead to an avalanche, right? Very glad I helped you on your journey down this path.

    • Janice Kelley
    • November 2, 2020

    What a wonderful beginning to my day, Bentley, as you made me laugh out loud and lifted my spirits as I was feeling a little down with my life at this moment as I have no worms to love as I gave them all away a litle while ago.

    • Bentley
    • November 2, 2020

    Thanks Janice! Glad to help you feel better – hope you can live vicariously through my crazy shenanigans for the next while until you are back in action with more wiggly friends.

    • Shaul
    • November 3, 2020

    On the Plus side, when the worms reach sexual maturity, they won’t have any problem finding each other. On the Minus side, when the worms reach sexual maturity, they will already have outgrown the size of their bin. In general: ‘Worms expand to fill the space allotted’, then they get smaller and smaller and then they die. Maybe just use it as a breeding bin.

    • Bentley
    • November 3, 2020

    Hi Shaul – true enough about them finding one another lol! Not sure I share the prediction about them just shrinking more and more and then dying. I will use this like a normal bin – just on a smaller scale. So the time until it is ready for overhaul/harvesting may be relatively short compared to a more typical bin. It isn’t meant to be practical – lol – more as an interesting study of vermicomposting on a tiny scale. Should be interesting!

    • Carole
    • November 3, 2020

    LOL! This is wonderful. And here I was thinking my plastic coffee can set-up was small. Now even Barbie can enjoy vermicomposting, no excuse from the Malibu Mansion. I wonder if the worms will enjoy traveling…? Maybe take them dancing, haha. Have fun! ??

    • Bentley
    • November 9, 2020

    Haha – that’s funny Carole. I think my daughter might still have a few barbie dolls somewhere… πŸ˜‰
    I received a email from someone worried about the idea of carrying the worms around so I do want to emphasize that was 100% a joke – at least as a keychain! The tiny size will make more typical transportation a breeze (and will give me a lot more options in terms of where the bin can sit).

    • Susan Flenniken
    • June 16, 2022

    I LOVE this and the fact that you needed tweezers to place the items in! Brilliant!

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