Wooden Flow-Through Bin-12-04-12

This is definitely a delayed-posting, but I figured it was worth sharing nevertheless – just in case some of you are wondering what ended up happening with my small wooden flow-through bin.

Back towards the end of October I decided to take the bin outside, A) because it was infested with scuttle flies (notice a recurring theme here! lol), and B) because I wanted to dismantle it.

I finally got around to the “dismantling” stage sometime early in November, before dumping the contents into one of my outdoor beds.

It was actually really cool taking the bin apart, since I was left with a big solid mass of material (once the wood panels were lifted off) that looked like something straight out of a soil science text book!

Up near the top you could see lots of coarse materials, but then as you went further and further down it looked more and more like beautiful, rich vermicompost.

That being said, the material at the bottom (namely the newsprint “false bottom”) was essentially completely intact. In all honesty, I can’t say I’m too surprised about that, given the amount of air flow down there (drying it out)!

Although I didn’t get to test this bin out as seriously as I had planned to, I was definitely impressed with its performance as a nice, compact home vermicomposting bin.
I’m sure I will set it up again at some point once I have a bit more space for vermicomposting.

Thanks once again to Wood Worm Farms for letting me test this model out!

Previous Posts in Series
My New Wooden Flow-Through Bin
Wooden Flow-Through Bin-06-14-12
Wooden Flow-Through Bin-07-09-12
Wooden Flow-Through Bin-10-10-12

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    • GA
    • December 6, 2012

    I’ve been thinking about writing a note for a while, with the following main message: in general, people doing worm composting don’t need to worry about things very much if a) they don’t overfeed, and b) they leave things alone and give the worms time to do their work.

    Given long enough, most of the materials will end up getting consumed. Stuff around the tops and bottoms may need to be thrown in the next bin, but the great mass of stuff will be fine.

    I’ve been thinking about one more part of this equation with respect to winter worm composting: there really is no need to ‘protect’ the worms if the pile is big enough. Mostly a big pile won’t freeze through, and even if it does, the worms will usually survive (or their descendants – cocoons – will), although they’ll consume very little in the cold. But as soon as it gets warm enough, they’ll start right up again.

    My worm system is really just two big composting bins. One is the ‘active’ one that I add to over the winter. The other is the overflow. In spring, the active one gets emptied to the overflow – where I mostly leave it alone until I need it for the garden.Since the stuff at the top of the active gets moved to the bottom of the overflow, it gets left alone for a long time and is usually perfect by the time I want to use it.

    The stuff that was at the bottom of the overflow usually has some pockets of stuff that didn’t degrade fully or is a bit stinky and maybe wet from lack of air. Because it ends up at the top of the overflow – with lots of air – these pockets get broken up, dry out (if needed), and then decompose to soil very, very quickly. There’s a period where fungi seem to go to town on these bits, and the worms move in and go to town.

    There are always some bits that haven’t broken down as much as I’d like or for what I’m using it for – they get tossed back (with some of the worms) into the active bin. Oh, and for the most part, I don’t separate the worms when using the compost. I take soil from the top of the overflow, where there are somewhat fewer worms, and if some end up in the garden, well, so be it.

    Anyway, this is my ‘least amount of work’ (for me) method. It’s sort of a mix of vermicomposting and regular composting, but there are tons of worms and I think they do most of the real composting.

    • Bentley
    • December 6, 2012

    Hi GA,
    You and I definitely share a similar philosophy re: vermicomposting. I know I write a lot about “optimization” (and it is covered extensively in the new course), but when it comes down to it, I tend to be someone who lets time take care of things. I feed in moderation, and often leave systems for lengthy periods of time without much in the way of additional feeding.

    I like to “protect” my winter system simply because I usually try to keep it semi-active (big difference between survival and actual active vermicomposting).

    To each his/her own I say! Those who want to speed things up can focus more on optimization of the process – while folks like us can take more of a mellow approach and still get the results we’re after.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    • Bentley
    • December 6, 2012

    By the way – I actually LOVE the left-over bedding etc etc. This is definitely among the types of material that fall in my “living material” category. Fantastic stuff to add to a newer system!

    • GA
    • December 6, 2012

    Bentley, thanks. And re “I like to “protect” my winter system simply because I usually try to keep it semi-active (big difference between survival and actual active vermicomposting).”

    I agree. In my case, there’s enough space outdoors and I don’t really need to keep it active in winter; if I did need to for whatever reason, I think I’d probably try to get an indoor system going. (Which I might – housing getting complicated).

    • GA
    • December 6, 2012

    And yes, left-over bedding is great, and more importantly, everyne should do what works for them.

    • Ben
    • December 10, 2012

    I definitely err on the side of “messing with the bin too often,” and I have to learn to do what you guys do. Much as I love messin’, I really need to just leave the poor worms alone. They do their best work when all I do is add some moisture/food and bedding now and then. But it’s so much FUN to watch them work! Even if it does end up err… killing them. Okay i see your point. 😉

  1. Can I use cedar for a worm bin. I found websites that sell them and I found websites that say cedar is toxic to worms. I’m confused.

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