The Worm Inn Project Challenge

“Well what is it, Bentley – a project, or a challenge???!”


As mentioned in a recent newsletter, I have plans to set up a brand new Worm Inn and resume my “Worm Inn Journal” series fairly soon (I can hear John W. cheering already! lol).

But I need some help from the RWC community. Rather than just start up a typical (boring?) Worm Inn follow-along, I’d like to do something fun (and potentially “hair-brained”)!

As such, I thought it might also be “fun” to turn this into a contest (“The Worm Inn Project Challenge”). I want to see who can come up with a really interesting project/experiment idea for me to try out with the new Worm Inn.

Worm Inn brand owner, Jerry G., has generously offered to help out with the prize (still haven’t hammered out the details, but rest assured there will be a Worm Inn involved!). Now it’s just a matter of rounding up as many cool ideas as we can!

Since I don’t want a lot of repeats, I figure the best way to do this is simply to invite you to leave your ideas as comments below. Make sure you read all other submissions that have been posted before adding yours (and if someone has already come up with the same – or a very similar – idea, just come up with a new one).

Nice and simple – and hopefully a lot of fun!

I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with.

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    • zeox
    • March 18, 2013

    I think it would be nice to see a Euro worm bin with the Worm inn. Might be nice to start off with a hefty number though so things get going fast.

    Im really glad that you have it running again. Keep us posted maybe even youtube?

    • john w.
    • March 18, 2013

    LOL…i was excited as soon as I saw the pic!!!!!

    • john w.
    • March 18, 2013

    Here is my two real ideas…and the reason I got a worm inn even after buying a WF 360.
    The main reason I got a worm inn was because i saw your challenge where you put in a TON of food. I think you were putting in like 20 pounds at a time. At the time, I could not even imagine putting 5 lbs of food in my 360. So I bought my worm inn and then a week later I think you broke yours down πŸ™‚

    I have always wanted to see how fast my worm inn could actually fill up.
    So lets pretend you get the cheapest deal with a worm inn and one pound of starting worms.

    I think it would be interesting to see how fast you could either

    A) See how long it takes to process X amount of food (not counting cardboard/paper) like say 100 pounds of mellon or pumpkin or whatever is left over from the local farmer’s market.

    B) How long it would actually take to fill a worm inn with finished compost. I guesstimate that I have over a hundred pounds of compost in my Worm inn right now and I still have maybe a foot left to go before it would actually be “full”

    I know I don’t have the ability to get a hundred pounds of melons so I don’t know the logistical aspects of that…but that why you run a blog and I just faithfully read it πŸ™‚

    I think this would be a great idea cause it shows us how effective worms are…and I know you have been getting the itch to measure things again! πŸ™‚

    • john w.
    • March 18, 2013

    And oh yeah…my personal preference would be to see just minimal processing…like when we eat a watermelon I don’t blend the leftovers into a fine pulp I just chop them into fist size pieces or even bigger. But that would be for you to decide. I know obviously it would go faster if you blended everything, but I am more interested in the “real world” results then the “If everything was perfect” results.

    • john w.
    • March 18, 2013

    Is there a deadline on the ideas for this challenge? If you could make it for the next 45 min I would appreciate that….I have never won anything before!!!!! πŸ™‚

    • Paul from Winnipeg
    • March 18, 2013

    I don’t think that John’s enthused with this idea. Ha ha!

    Joking aside, I have an idea, though it would involve starting another bin at the same time. Have a no holds barred face off between the Worm inn and another worm bin (whatever is handy for you) to show which one processes more waste, grows more worms, wins the match! We all know the Worm inn will win but by how much?

    • Nate
    • March 18, 2013

    So I would take 2 or 3 worm inns and pick 3 different foods ie. melons, coffee grounds , shredded carrots whatever to see what foods are processed the fastest-helps the worms reproduce the most.

    • Spencer
    • March 19, 2013

    I’d be interested in an experiment that shows the ability of the worms to live in and compost shiney colored cardboard.

    • Carmen
    • March 19, 2013

    I am really interested to know what kind of system produces the best finished product. Sadly this kind of project would require a little $$ for lab-type testing. I am interested as I have a 1500 square foot greenhouse and use all the compost I can get my hands on. Currently I have 4 rubbermaid tubs that process food and rabbit droppings. I have always wanted to know if the worm inn produces a better finished product as I have been contemplating buying one for a while now. I am interesed in quality both interms of both subjective-type properties like moisture, uniformness, ease of screening, etc, and measureable properties like actual nutrient content and perhaps biological content.

    • Ron
    • March 19, 2013

    Starting the Inn with 1 lb of your red worms, I’d like to see how many pounds of worms there are at the end of composting.

    • john w.
    • March 19, 2013

    @Ron I think when he did his first worm inn project there was an estimated 5lbs of worms when he finally harvested the entire worm inn.
    And if memory serves correctly He just started with “worm habitat” so there were worms, but not a lot it was more worm eggs and baby worms.
    That’s one of the reasons I love my worm inn…I have no clue how many worms I have…but they eat a lot and they eat it fast!

    • Chris
    • March 19, 2013

    It would be interesting to see how well they handled a heavy citrus diet, and things like pineapples.

    The one time I put some shiny cardboard in my bin (when I first got it, they said to put the packaging in the bin), I just ended up with a lot of colored specks in the product at the end. They processed the cardboard part just fine, but not whatever the shiny coating is. That just ended up in a state where you can’t remove it.

  1. I would really like to see a face off between the euro and African in a worm .
    post the results for amount of food eaten as well as growth rate of the two both in size and numbers . I like both worm and would really like a good comparison of the two. I don’t anyone has done this yet.

    Thaks Jim

    • Matt
    • March 19, 2013

    A fun experiment would be an outdoor worm inn dedicated to dog waste. Might not make for the most glamorous picture and video follow along though πŸ˜‰

    • Eugene
    • March 20, 2013

    I have an idea that is more worm-suicidal. I have always wondered if too much food scraps in my worm inn will really kill the worms. So, set up a worm inn and another system with about the same capacity. Each will have 1 lbs of worms. Dump an equal but a lot of food (no bedding) into both the worm inn and other system.

    I am just wondering if the good airflow in the worm inn will prevent massive worm-death.

  2. come on guys were not trying to kill worms were trying to gain good knowledge about worms. lets make a challenge that we can learn from not kill worms.

    Thanks Jim

    • ron
    • March 20, 2013

    I would be interested in seeing the Inn project based on more taboo compostables such as foods like citric/acidics or meats, or more hush hush composting such as pet/human waste.


    I would definately recommend the Worm Inn over a rubbermaid tote any day. I would like to say that the worm inn would replace 2-3 if not all 4 of the totes in form of quality, quantity, and consistant return on time invested. I bought mine from Bentley like 2 yrs ago, and even though i have much bigger outside wooden bins that produce quite a bit more then the inn, i still have my inn running in the basement because of the ease of feed, water, and let it run its course. Only negative that I would say it has is also its blessing in the form of the amount of airflow it has. Bedding not mixed into the finished product tends to dry out much quicker then in a rubber tote or wooden box bin. Hope that helps. πŸ™‚

  3. Here is my idea-
    If I remember correctly Bentley has two worm inns.My idea is to see just how much of a different precomposting can make. What you do is a side by side. Start with say 10 worms in each.Then using the same weight of food in both feed one with precomposted material from your tumbler and feed the other straight scrapes. This would do two things. One see how much of a different precomposting can make in the speed of producing vermicompost and second to see if by it has any effect on the reproduction of the worms.

    • Deoxy
    • March 21, 2013

    I know you put some sheets in The Beast; I’d be curious to see how fabric (sewing scraps perhaps?) does in the Worm Inn. Maybe throw in an orphaned wool or leather glove?

    • kiera
    • March 21, 2013

    Not sure what different types of fabrics might do, but I threw an old sock with a hole in there. Just a normal athletic sock and about a month later give or take no sign of it:)

    • john w.
    • March 22, 2013

    @ Deoxy @Kiera
    I put in an old work shirt several months ago. I was just harvesting my worm inn this week. Most of the shirt is still intact. I cut it up into pieces before putting it in. As far as I can tell there is little to none composting going on. But it is great for helping keep everything moist!

    • Deoxy
    • March 22, 2013

    My mom is a quilter and quilters produce tons (well, not literally) of these cut off pieces of cotton fabric left from when they use a template to make shapes. Usually she puts them in the outside compost bin, but I’ve put some in my Guansanito (think Worm Factory) system and they eventually disappeared. I think fabric scraps would be an interesting experiment to help keep the Inn moist. Linen vs wool vs cotton?

    Like a previous commenter, I’d also be curious to see how the Inn did with EEs, but I imagine it’s too cool in Bentley’s basement to do that, alas. The zippered top could keep them from roaming and perhaps they have lower moisture needs than EH and wouldn’t (misguidedly) flee to the bottom of the Inn.

    • Sharon K
    • March 22, 2013

    How about cooked versus frozen scraps? We have done either/or but not side by side in a comparison. I know our heard LOVES cooked pumpkin. We have 5 barrel/trash can flow throughs in the worm room and one whole cooked pumpkin is gone in a week. We just took out the seeds and cut it in junks (we did this like five different times) so it would fit in a huge stock pot and only cooked it for about 20 mins after bringing to a boil. I’m thinking cooked would probably win but who knows.

    • RJ
    • March 25, 2013

    I think an interesting experiment would be to use leaves as a bedding material instead of newspaper or cardboard. Since leaves have more nutrition than the latter items, I wonder if the compost would be of a higher quality. My worms have eaten compost from my outdoor non-vermicomposting set up where the leaves weren’t fully degraded and chowed down on them just fine. I wonder if the worms would fare well in a large amount of leaves.

  4. Put in two pounds of redworms. Divide it down the middle when fed. One side feed nothing but cup holder broken down in hot water and add the formula for paper mache to the paper without the elmers glue. other side use cup holder soaked in food juice from whatever veggies you cook during the week. Just use the condensed food water on the paper cup holder. See if the worms congregate more on one side. So you have to feed both sides at the same time with the mixes. The paper mache one can be pre made. So that one is easier than it sounds. Should be easy to see if one side goes faster.

  5. Another one is to add the worms and see if redworms will eat used chewing gum, and q tips. Those always go in the garbage. Be nice to see the results. Imagine the gum in landfills! May not work? Paper towels,wad of gum in it. The usual way we toss gum likely.

    • Deoxy
    • March 25, 2013

    My worms in a worm bin (not a Worm Inn, mind you) eat used Qtips, but I never thought of trying chewing gum. Interesting…

    • John w
    • March 25, 2013

    I can’t imagine they would be able to break down gum. Gum at its basics is rubber. I woul image they would flock to the sugar particles but once that was gone I don’t think there would be much microbial action for them

    • John w
    • March 25, 2013

    And I think the worms would pass on my q-tips πŸ™‚

    • Jaime
    • March 25, 2013

    Try dividing the worm inn into four quarter sections using thick pieces of cardboard, and feed each section equally. Add a few worms, say 20 each, of four different kinds of worms, each to their own section. See how fast each consumes their food and which type of worms breaks through the cardboard barrier and takes over other worms sections first or most. Euros, reds, blues, and maybe a section with springtails or some other non-worm composting creature.

    • Mike
    • March 26, 2013

    Compost all scraps indoor challenge! Veggies/fruit into the inn with bokashi on the forbiddens: meats/citrus/chips/etc! Add euros and wrigglers (possibly african tho will it be warm enough?) and see which best handles the bokashi/waste mix indoors in a worm inn. You did a previous series in 2008 of bokashi and worms but the bin went sour … maybe for round 2 have ag/dolomitic lime (rock dust?) mixed in?

    • Nick
    • March 26, 2013

    After reading the great suggestions above, why not expand your challenge? Throughout the years you have performed innumerable experiments. They have been both entertaining and informative, but you can only do so many projects. What if you designed a number of experiments and had your readers conduct them? Each experiment could be simultaneously performed by 5-10 of your readers who would document their findings with photographs and forward them to you along with a brief summary. Of course, because of the variables involved, there would be varying results but, it would be fun and highly informative. Similarly to your β€œWorm Inn Project Challenge”, you could ask your readers to suggest the experiments they would like to see. You could select the most popular ones, design the experiments and have your readers participate.

    I have ordered my “Worm Inn” today so I can attempt to replicate whatever experiment you perform!

    • Bentley
    • April 1, 2013

    Wow – lots of really cool ideas everyone!
    I suspect that two of these will be chosen for this particular project, but I really want to try some of the other ones (not necessarily using a Worm Inn) as well. Nick – your idea is great. Hopefully there will be Worm Inn owners willing to try some of these ones that don’t get selected (and/or the same ones for replication purposes as you suggest).

    Hope to make an announcement this week.
    Thanks everyone!

  6. If you can find Chicle gum it is biodegradeable. Cotton like shirts and holey undies (lol) will be eaten by worms no problem at all. They’ll leave the elastic part for you to simply pull back out of the wormbin.I try to buy as much cotton items as possible.So when they wear out they go straight to the worms. Pretty neat watching a beach towel disappear. If my current Worm inn experiment doesn’t pan out too well i’m gonna try something different than most. I’m gonna see if the worms can extract the cotton from a Cotton/Polyester shirt. Say 75% cotton/25% polyester blend?

    • Arlene Montemarano
    • April 3, 2013

    Not an experiment, just a handy variation. I cut plywood squares to top my three worm bins. No hinges necessary. My bins have large wheels, making them moveable, and the tops provide handy work surfaces since they are counter high.

  7. Are you still doing your test and what did you decide to do.

    Thanks Jim

    • Bentley
    • June 14, 2013

    Hi Jim,
    Here is a link to the most recent blog post for the project we decided on (thanks to winning ideas from John W and Paul L):

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