Worm Inn Journal – 11-10-08

My Camo Worm Inn

Some of you may recall me starting what I referred to as the ‘Worm Bin Journal‘ early last spring – a special project originally intended for newsletter members only. Well I’ve decided to start up another journal project – but this time it’s the Worm Inn Journal, and it will be a completely public affair.

As I mentioned not too long ago, I ordered a number of Worm Inns (to sell up here in Canada) and was given a complimentary test system – something I’ve been meaning to get set up ever since. I think the major issue slowing me down was my intention to add 3 lb of worms. Basically this means 3 lb less available to be sold to customers. Given the consistent demand for worms this fall, I opted to postpone the set-up of my Worm Inn.

Finally it dawned on me one day that I didn’t HAVE to start with 3 lbs – I could always just add more worms over time until I reach the target quantity (I’m dazzled by my own brilliance sometimes – lol). Apart from having that ‘Eureka’ moment (haha), things DO seem to be winding down for the season up here as well, thus it’s less of a issue to set aside worms for this project. SO…I finally got my Inn up and running with just over 1 lb of Red Worms (so far).

As you can probably tell from the photo above, I need to work on getting my Inn to hang properly – it’s looking a little sloppy at the moment (due to my poor hanging skills, I can assure you).
I’m actually thinking very seriously about buying a laundry hamper stand similar to the one shown in my ‘Worm Inn Update‘ post (which features one of Robyn’s product shots). I think this is definitely the way to go since it looks good and allows you to easily move the system around.

Setting up the system was very straightforward. As mentioned in other posts, I’m lucky enough to have considerable amounts of aged manure bedding (basically manure mixed with straw then allowed to rot for a period of time) on hand, so it’s very easy to create a nice ‘worm habitat’ in any new system I am setting up. Normally I would mix shredded cardboard with food waste and let this sit for a week before adding the worms. With the manure bedding I can add the worms right away.

Cardboard False Bottom
The first thing I did was add a ‘false bottom’ of moistened shredded cardboard (moistened after picture was taken). This isn’t absolutely vital – just something I like to do to keep the main contents of the system away from the bottom during the initial start-up phase. This cardboard will eventually be released from the bottom (likely undecomposed) once I start taking out vermicompost.

Manure Compost Added to Worm Inn
I next added a layer of the manure compost

Adding Worms to the Worm Inn
Next, it was time to add the worms – my first 1.1 lbs. I will likely add another 2 lbs or so during the next couple of weeks.

Worm Food added to Worm Inn
I then added another layer of the compost plus some rotting food waste I happened to have ready to go.

Cardboard Bedding on top
Yet another layer of the compost, then a thick layer of shredded cardboard over top. Because the system is open I decided to spray the upper bedding layer with water (after picture taken). I will likely need to add water to this system on a regular basis to keep things moist for the worms.

It is very exciting to finally have my Worm Inn up and running! I looked in this morning to make sure my worms weren’t trying to make a break for it and was very pleased to see lots of them up in the rotting food waste layer – presumably happily munching away on millions of microbes.

Unlike my Worm Bin Journal, I plan to provide updates for this project on a much more regular basis (at least one a week). So stay tuned!

Should be a lot of fun!

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    • Kim from Milwaukee
    • November 10, 2008

    I’m surprised there’s no cover for this, Bentley….not even a piece of cardboard to keep the moisture in???

  1. I am not really attracted to the look of this wormery and so will be interested in how effective it is as a wormery.
    Keep us posted!

    • Bentley
    • November 11, 2008

    Hi Kim – there IS in fact a detachable screen for the top of the Inn. It doesn’t keep moisture in – it’s intended to discourage flying pests. You may also recall that I am now a proponent for open systems (see my post about ‘Vermicomposting Trays’), so I actually appreciate the fact that the Worm Inn has so much more air flow than a normal worm bin. The vermicompost will be higher quality and will be produced more quickly than in a standard Rubbermaid type of tub. I will be feeding the worms a wet blended food material, and if that doesn’t add enough moisture I will simply spray the system with water.

    Vermifan – even if you are not wowed by the gorgeous camo design of my Worm Inn (haha), I’m sure you will be impressed with the results.

  2. yeah I am very curious in how it performs as a womery and if fabric is a better material to use for a womery.

    • Kim from Milwaukee
    • November 13, 2008

    Bentley, I have the Rubbermaid setup, but I don’t keep the lid on. I found it holds too much moisture, so I just have a piece of cardboard resting on top, which allows more air flow, it seems.

    What is the drainage like in your new worm hammock? And do you have drainage in your new trays as well? I’m thinking of converting a dresser drawer into a bin, just lining it with a heavy duty trash bag and having an open system like the trays you’re using. What do you think?

    • Bentley
    • November 14, 2008

    Hi Kim,
    Rubbermaid tubs without lids can also work very well – definitely sounds like you have the right idea. Truth be told, I’ve actually decided to use open Rubbermaid tubs on my shelving unit since two fit nicely on each shelve (whereas only one of my black trays fits on each shelf. My black trays will now sit elsewhere (will likely write more about this at some point).

    “Worm Hammock” – hehe, that’s a great name!
    As for drainage, I don’t really need to worry about it. I have a false bottom of shredded cardboard in the bottom, plus it just seems to dry out so quickly that my greatest challenge will be keeping it moist. Worst cast scenario, I can always attach a small ziploc bag to the bottom where the drawstrings are (using an elastic or cable tie) should any liquid start to drip out.

    A dresser drawer would be a great worm bed – an old dresser in general would be great for holding a lot of worms (although you may want to rig up some LED lights inside to make sure the worms don’t start crawling out when the drawers are closed). I honestly don’t think you would need the plastic liner though. Wood ‘breathes’ quite well, and as long as you had absorbent material in the bin and didn’t add too much water at once (if at all), I don’t think you’d see any drainage.

    BTW – my trays do not have drainage – they definitely don’t need it given how shallow they are.

    • Patricia
    • November 22, 2008

    After reading about the different types of bins people are using I have one more to add. I can buy covered cat litter boxes at our local thrift store. I used to buy them for my hens as nesting boxes but now I use them to house my worms. I have 8 of them and I don’t secure the lids so I can get into them quickly. I fill them to the rim with manure and put a piece of cardboard on top of that to keep the sun off and then place the lid on top. Drainage holes drip into plant trays. This way I have both batch and continuous bins.

    • Bentley
    • November 24, 2008

    Interesting approach, Patricia! Thanks for sharing.

    • Julie
    • June 6, 2010

    Are these made in the USA? Also the plastic 3 tray system has a way to get the “tea” can you get the same product from the inn?
    Thank you

    • Bentley
    • June 7, 2010

    They are indeed made in the USA, Julie. The manufacturer drop-ships them for me in the U.S. (I live in Canada). As for leachate – any system that drains can provide this liquid if you want it. Simply add water and put a bucket underneath.
    My personal recommendation though, is to make “real” compost tea by producing high quality vermicompost then soaking it in water.

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