Vermicomposting Furniture?

A very interesting question from Libbie:

I live in Washington DC in a condo without adequate space outdoors to keep a worm composter. I would like to have one indoors but I need it to look like furniture rather than a composter. Do you know anyone that makes small worm composters that look like indoor furniture? A rubbermaid bin would stand out too much and probably creep out my roommate/dinner guests. Ideally, it would have a can-o-worm type system that allows me to switch trays but that may be asking too much.

Unlike all my other “Reader Questions” responses, I actually don’t have an answer for this one – so I am hoping to get as much feedback from the RWC community as possible. I think this could end up being a really interesting topic for discussion – and of course, hopefully we can come up with some helpful info for Libbie as well!

So here are MY questions:

1) Do any of you know of, or perhaps even sell vermicomposting bins that look like a piece of furniture?

2) Have any of you made your own furniture-style custom worm bins?

I think it would be a lot of fun to share some pictures and descriptions of these on the blog, so don’t hesitate to drop me a line with some images of your bin as well if you’ve made one and you’d like to show it off.

This topic made me think of Mary Appelhof (renowned vermicomposting educator and author of “Worms Eat My Garbage”, who sadly passed away in 2005). She had at least one beautiful piece of vermicomposting furniture – pretty sure it was a bin that doubled as a coffee table. You can see her sitting on it here: http://www.wormwoman.com/acatalog/wormwoman.html


Thanks again for the e-mail, Libbie! Hopefully we can track down some answers for you!
8)

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Comments

  1. Like any other ‘hidden’ furniture, how about hiding the rubbermaid or whatever behind a wooden facade, i.e. simply disguised?
    A small stool seems reasonable, box with a padded top?

    HTH

    • Rich Yarger
    • January 4, 2012

    Hey B! There is that one group that actually makes a really stylish looking kitchen type table, with an infra red light and monitor (so you can actually see the worm’s activity). I cannot remember their name, but perhaps that might job yours (because I am pretty sure I saw it from something you posted a while back).

    Ring any bells?

    • Daniel Herrington
    • January 4, 2012

    I had played with that concept about a year back. We built a typical chest out of pine and one out of cedar and the effects were interesting. The wood itself was not a problem in either case provided it was ventilated properly and treated as a normal bin indoors would be. The issue came when we really tried to make it into real furniture. In that sense I mean by using stain and veneer to make it like a typical chest wood look if placed as a book table or something that really was appearing useful but discreet. The raw wood look just isn’t what really counts a furniture if its wooden. The stain was most likely not the problem. The veneer however leeched into the internal area of the bin and killed the worms very quickly. So we built another and this time used shellac as a sealant for the wood with the same result. We concluded that using raw wood was not a problem. The problem was really in making look furniture like. Hence the reason we use raw wood or plastics for most bins you will see on the market. End result; The chemicals introduced to make the constructed item actually useful ended up a major problem for the worm survival. Hope that helps somewhat. Please bear in mind however, that we only made the two attempts. If a sealant or stain material that is environmentally friendly without the oil by products used in what we used it might be possible. I have never seen such things except in wood stain. But that alone would still need some sealant to add the sheen and furniture feel to the build.

    • Laura
    • January 4, 2012

    See link to Digestive Table on RWC home page under Vermicomposting. Amy Youngs table has to be closest to the mark of furniture, I’m sure it can be made more economically if all the electronics are excluded. Also note the wood was stained with combination of beetroot and worm tea – thus not poisonous to worms, to seal and bring on shine, Beeswax could be used.

    • Therese
    • January 5, 2012

    This is exactly what I am working on myself. If anyone has any great ideas that won’t cost an arm and leg, please post! Especially if it will go in the kitchen, say hanging over the trash and recycle bins. Thanks.

  2. I was allowed to keep an indoor bin as long as the bin matched the curtains. This year we decided to set up holiday time in our back room where I keep my worm bins. I had to put my 32 gallon bin in the spare bath tub with the shower curtain closed (it’s doing well). Most family and friends kept asking me “you still got all those worms?” and I replied they are in the bath tub, nobody noticed because of no smell and no bugs.

    • Renee
    • January 5, 2012

    What about a bin with a solid top a little larger, spacers to elevate the lid for ventilation, and a lacy or holey cloth to cover it. Like an end table or hall table. I keep my bin in a hardly used shower.

    • Rebecca
    • January 5, 2012

    I think the roll bin looks nice. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_5Lv8Ou7Fc The link to Amy Youngs worm inn like table is redwormcomposting.com/?s=amy+youngs

  3. Since i actually got inspired by looking at Amy Youngs work.A while back i was trying to think about this from a man cave perspective.Needless to say it isn’t hard for ideas to pop into my head.I’m not a furniture type person.But what i intend to build is a worm bin(flowthru)out of a mans mechanics style tool box.Don’t be surprised if you see someone sell them now! But i just want to make one!Don’t forget where you heard it from if you see someone selling these on television! LOL!But you’d never know it was a worm bin.You just got to use a tool box with the big bottom compartment instead of a drawer.Trick is you only use the drawer faces and insulate the inside from moisture.One cool man cave flowthru!

    • Ryan Green
    • January 11, 2012

    hey recently just made my own flow through worm bin DIY out of an old cabinet and i constructed it to withstand the weight of all the food waste and material here is a video showing how i made it and everything.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2j0IxpAaR6E

    And also if you would like check out the youtube account associated with this video my channel is all about composting with worms thanks and i hope this helps with some ideas for you.

    • Kim from Milwaukee
    • January 25, 2012

    Maybe the furniture that is used for cat litter boxes would work with worm bins?

    @Ryan ~Excellent instructional video! Let us know how your worms like their new home, Ryan. I thank you for sharing so much of your knowledge online.

    • MsGwen
    • April 28, 2013

    Ive been researching starting my own worm colony here in VA. While googling for a local worm vendor I found that a nearby county had posted a vermiform posting project for kids. Just google “worm farm; Hanover, VA” to find it…. The project uses large cool whip tubs though I was thinking butter tubs or any Tupperware could work. They start with just 10 worms! Something this scale could easily be stored under a sink or in any furniture!
    Another idea I had… At Ikea’s they sell these hanging plastic bin / drawer systems really cheap. Something like that could work as long as it was installed in a cupboard or dark place since there are no lids on the tubs… I guess a piece of cardboard could work though.

  4. I spent the afternoon converting an old dresser into a worm compost bin. With a divider down the center, the idea is to replicate the horizontal migration style compost bin. I removed the drawers and added cedar pickets to match the theme in my greenhouse, but for the OP, you could stripe down an old dresser, remove the front panels from the drawers and permanently glue/screw them back-on. Put a divider down the middle and, voila, furniture/worm compost! No one would need to know 🙂

    • Bentley
    • December 5, 2018

    Sounds great, Annie! I’d love to see some pics of this bin!
    Thanks for the comment
    😎

    • Karla
    • February 26, 2019

    In Europe, we do get some „hipster“-wormtower made out of some sort of ceramics – it‘s called a wormupHOME (wormup.ch).
    I own one myself for just the reason, that I needed to compromise with my roommate…

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