Wooden Stacking Bin-08-17-10

Just a quick update on my wooden stacking system. As you can see, I’ve decided to add a second tray already – something that may seem surprising. I normally recommend that people wait until the first tray contains a fair amount of vermicompost before adding a new one – but given how shallow these particular trays are, I figured it might not be a bad idea to go this route.

I started by partially filling the second tray with wet corrugated cardboard, but since then I’ve also been adding some coffee grounds and filters. So far there hasn’t really been much sign of the worms moving upwards, but I can’t say I’m too surprised, given the fact that there is still plenty of food value in the lower tray. Speaking of which, I realized that this double tray approach actually lends itself quite well to vermicomposting with coffee grounds since a lot of grounds just end up falling down to the first tray anyway.

The contents of the first tray seems to have settled quite a bit since the worms were added, so I’m confident that they are busily munching away down there. I did a little digging around this morning and saw lots of healthy looking worms, so I’d say we’re on the right track so far.

All in all, I’ve been pretty pleased with how well the system is working. I expected it would need a lot of additional moisture during the dry summer weather we’ve been having ever since I set it up. But it actually appears to be retaining moisture quite well. I’ve added quite a bit of water, don’t get me wrong – but I can easily leave it for at least a few days between watering sessions without any worries about it getting too dry.
I do see some dry coffee grounds around the outer walls, but most of the grounds seem to be staying nice and moist.

Anyway – that’s it for now. I’ll probably provide another update in a couple of weeks.

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    • Kator
    • August 17, 2010

    Hi Bentley

    Very impressive! I’m in the process of following your lead and building one. What size screen do you recommend for the bottoms? (Geese .. I’ve been bitten 🙂 )

    newbie Kator

    • John Duffy
    • August 18, 2010

    Hey Kator,
    Might as well build several while you have your tools out. If you’ve been bitten by the ‘vermibug’ one bin just won’t be enough…Trust me

    • Jean Kruse
    • August 18, 2010

    Bentley, I haven’t read very much about stacking bins so could you tell me how do the worms get up to the next level given that the level in the bottom tray has gone down? Thanks, Jean

    • Bentley
    • August 18, 2010

    KATOR – The only lead you might be following is me using this system, since I certainly didn’t build mine! (I’m all thumbs! haha)
    I agree with John – if you can build something like this (preferably with deeper trays than the one I’m using), take advantage of those skills.
    As for the screen, I think it might be about 1/4″ or so.
    JEAN – I suspect that material (namely grounds) will continue to fall down into the first tray (and I’ll certainly assist the process), but really, the worms don’t need any assistance from me – they could easily climb the side walls in order to reach the second tray.

    • Kator
    • August 18, 2010

    JOHN – thank you for the advice. After giving the matter more thought, I plan to add at least one additional setup. Your note was timely as I’m picking up supplies today.
    BENTLEY – thank you. I’ll use the 1 1/4″ screen and deepen the trays. For the time being, I’d like to keep this project inside since we’re late starting and I do not as yet have an exterior setup capable of overwintering. I want to avoid starting the project outside and then transferring inside (due to the eventual onset of cold weather) for fear of introducing earwigs, etc. Eventually I hope to have an interior system, and a larger exterior system; however, is it practical to maintain the stacking project inside for the time being?

    • Bentley
    • August 18, 2010

    Just to be clear, Kator – I was suggesting 1/4″ mesh (not 1 1/4″).
    I think your stacking bin will work very well inside, and your logic (re: putting it inside right away) is definitely sound. There are lots of other critters outside that you won’t want inside, and I would imagine that the weather will be cooling off a fair bit in your neck of the woods before too long!

    • LARRY D.
    • August 19, 2010

    Kator-sorry i responded late.they say cedar is bad.So i had to build mine out of cedar.But use pine.I haven’t had problems yet.The screen is 1/4 for sure.1/8 will work.But be aware these dry out readily.Keep a check on it.Also if it goes outside,ants love mine.Guess they know dryer times are coming soon!

    • Kator
    • August 19, 2010

    Bentley – Sorry for the 1 1/4 typo. I meant 1/4″ for screening size (pondering Mark’s experience in looking to the heavens while examining bin bottom 🙂 ). I picked up the supplies yesterday and assault .. er .. assembly .. will begin tomorrow.
    Larry D. – Excellent point. I was initially considering cedar (being an aromatic wood) but decided on pine for the very reason you raise. I’m seeking optimum living conditions for the lil critters. Thanks for reinforcing my decision.

    • Jacob
    • August 19, 2010

    Bentley – How deep are the trays on the one you have? From the picture they look to be 1×6 sides with 2×4 legs. How deep do you think the trays should be?

    • Bentley
    • August 20, 2010

    Hi Jacob,
    The trays are about 3″ deep – very shallow!
    I would definitely recommend making them 6-10″

    • Matt
    • August 23, 2010

    Just out of curiosity Bently, did you take a picture of the initial bin right before you added the second tray? I am new to this, and into my third week of my first bin… WF 360.

    If my calculations are close, you had the first bin going for about 11 days before adding the second… wow that is fast. Since being so new I was curious what the first bin looked like.

    Thanks for adding some (a lot) knowledge to this addiction, I have been bit and plan on doing a lot more. In the last two weeks I have gotten two small pickup loads of well aged and composted horse manure.

    Thanks again,

    • Bentley
    • August 23, 2010

    Hi Matt,
    Guess I should have elaborated a bit more on the second tray situation. I only added it because these trays are so shallow, and I had basically filled up the first one already. It definitely wasn’t “finished” or anything like that (although the worms are certainly going to work in there).
    I find having the second tray going at the same time works well in this case since a lot of coffee grounds (the only type of “food” I am adding) are dropping down into the first tray.
    Will aim to include a pic of the 1st tray contents when I next add an update.

    • karen
    • September 21, 2010

    I have just been wondering how your ‘coffee only’ worms are doing.

    • Bentley
    • September 23, 2010

    Hi Karen,
    Just checked on the bin this morning and the worms seem to be thriving. I wish I had started this earlier in the season though – I think our coolish temps (especially at night) these days are slowing things down a fair bit.
    Hope to post an update next week.

    • Kator
    • September 23, 2010

    Hi Karen: I was reminded about this project yesterday after experiencing a minor mutiny in two of my bins, one of which had coffee grounds added. It occurred during Hurricane Igor’s visit to our fair province. Bentley and I are debating possible causes for the mutiny or walkout or whatever (so far Igor is taking the blunt of blame).

    In any event, since the beginning of the coffee related blog, I’ve had this picture of an army of red wigglers marching out of Bentley’s coffee grounds bin – rushing to the nearest Tim Hortons or Starbucks for a caffine fix. Can’t wait to hear the outcome of this experiment 🙂

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