Ok – time to get back into the topic of vermicomposting…
As promised, I’m going to tell you about a new type of worm system I’ve been testing out over the last few months. They are certainly nothing revolutionary, and plenty of other people use similar containers, but I thought it would make for a good topic of discussion nevertheless.
I came across these tubs while checking out the plastic bin section at the local hardware store back in the spring. Like an serious vermicomposter, I am always on the lookout for potential new worm bins. Having recently started up my own vermicomposting business, I was especially eager to find something more useful than Rubbermaid tubs. I wanted something that would fit nicely on a shelf, wouldn’t be impossible to move when full, yet would still be able to hold multiple pounds of worms at once.
These tubs seemed to fit the bill. They are approximately 28″x19″x6″ and seem to be made of PVC plastic. As you can see, they offer an outstanding surface-area-to-depth (or -volume) ratio. This is really important, especially when you want to keep a lot of worms in a relatively small space, and have an interest in harvesting castings as well.
So far I’ve been blown away with how well these tubs work. The combination of high worm densities with ample air flow results in very fast vermicompost production, and much easier worm harvesting. Gone are the days of mucking around (literally) with unfinished compost months after a bin was set up, trying to get it separated from the worms.
Don’t get me wrong – those enclosed tubs definitely work well in certain applications. I see them as ideal worm breeding/nursery bins. When it comes down to it, a Rubbermaid bin is actually closer to a worms ideal environment than a tray – unfortunately that doesn’t correspond to the ideal situation for a worm farmer!
If you start the worms in bins, then move them (and the unfinished compost) to these trays once they are larger I think you will end up with the perfect combo system. I’ve actually been keeping some aged manure (cleaned of larger worms a while ago) in a plastic garbage bin (which does NOT have a good surface-area-to-depth ratio). What’s amazing is that the material is now LOADED with worms – clearly the conditions in there are good for worm development. These cans are also great because they take up a lot less space than a Rubbermaid tub with a similar volume.
I am planning to start up a series of these cans with material that’s had most of the worms removed (but is loaded with cocoons) and see how many worms I can produce. Once the worms are larger I will once again remove them (moving them to the tray systems) and repeat.
Should be interesting!