One Person’s Trash…

Nesting Plastic Trays

…is a vermicomposters TREASURE??

I am often amazed by some of the stuff people throw out! Quite some time ago, my dad told me about some colorful trays that some local university students had put out for trash pick-up. Having spent enough time learning about (and of course taking part in) my vermicomposting activities/business, he knew instantly that I would put them to good use.

Vermicomposting aside, in all honesty I am REALLY surprised that anyone would throw these things out. They are fully-intact (no cracks etc) and could certainly be used in any number of small-scale storage applications. I won’t complain though, since this is definitely a serious “score” for me!
[You know you are a worm-head WHEN…]

Some might adapt these stacking tubs into some sort of flow-through worm composting system – but I will simply be using them as temporary holding/concentrating containers. I’m sure some of you will remember my “turbo light-harvesting method“. The big trays I use for that are fantastic, but it also helps to have smaller trays to hold (and further concentrate, if need be) those worms that have been harvested.

I have a tiny kitty litter box that has – up until these bins came along – been one of my most useful holding containers, but somehow I don’t foresee it being used all that much any more!

Anyway – I would love to hear from anyone out there who has found really cool “garbage” that has ended being useful in your vermicomposting efforts! Once you are truly hooked, every empty container suddenly becomes a potential worm bin, right?

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    • Nathan
    • January 19, 2010

    I haven’t found any thing that I can use, but I do cach myself thinking what perfict wormbins some things could be that I have seen.

    • Craig Rogers
    • January 19, 2010

    I’ve only seen these in new mexico, and only at what we refer to as “ghetto smiths”, but they have 3 liter bottles of soda, I’ve used these as experimental worm bins (similar to the four worm, 50 cocoon challenge) just drill some holes in the bottom and top, cut off the top and tape it back on after adding your worms and material, keep it in a dark place and worms live just fine. I usually keep at least one of these as a “just in case” container, since I only have two bins and I’m too cheap to buy another pound of worms in case something terrible happens.

    • Andrew
    • January 19, 2010

    Most excellent score, Bentley. Woot! Great to have a dad keeping an eye out for you. The biggest piece of “garbage” I’ve put to use in my vermicomposting efforts is a wooden wardrobe (~7′ tall x ~4′ wide). It was pretty beat up and someone was sending it to the dump. I rescued it and now use it to house my transparent flow through bin. Most the time I keep the doors closed so the worms get the darkness they prefer. When I feel the need to see what they’re up to, I open the door and take a peek.

    Here’s a short video tour of my flow through bin where you can see part of the wardrobe in the background. (I hope the link shows up correctly)
    Transparent flow through


    • Andy
    • January 19, 2010

    I don’t have it going yet, but I think the best find is an old bed…a twin bed that is with the springs and metal support structure that serves as a box spring. It is about 4×6 so there is a lot of surface area. The bottom of metal frame has 2×4 inch squares and there are two metal supports on the bottom to hold the weight. I just need to put up some plywood for the sides and we have an OSCR bin. My wife can’t wait! 🙂 I have pictures if anyone wants to see it.

  1. SCORE!!!

    • Natalia
    • January 20, 2010

    I picked up a discarded sandbox for kids. It looks like a big red crab with googly eyes, has a lid, lots of surface area, about 10 inches deep. I wanted it set up before winter, but didn’t put enough waste it in and it froze all the way through. Its been above the freezing point for two weeks now, so I’m eyeing it again. It will be a fun one to solve as it dries out fairly quickly and there is practically no insulation from cold. Lots of waste + cardboard should solve this, right?

    • Eve
    • January 20, 2010

    My best score was some little cat litter trays. I spied them when i was first thinking of starting vermicomposting. It was 3 complete sets of the sifting litter pans. Each set had two regular pans that were only 4 inches deep, a sifting pan and a wall that was about 6 inches high that clamps onto the litter pans to make them taller. That was 6 pans, 3 sifting pans and wall sets.

    My first thought was to make the whole lot into one huge worm tower. But after thinking it over i went with a tote .

    I came up with a worm related use for nearly all the pans. I use the litter pans for transport, sorting and even seed sprouting. The sifting pans for pots of starts. I put the pots into them and set the whole thing into a water filled litter pan to water them.

    But i still haven’t come up for a use for the side walls. Give me time I’ll think of something.

    • Bentley
    • January 20, 2010

    I THOUGHT this one might get a few responses!
    Great worm-minds think alike!

    Sounds like others have made some really cool “scores” as well!

    Great video Andrew – thanks for sharing!

    Natalia – that sounds like cool potential vermicomposting system, but unless you have a winter that’s a LOT warmer than mine, I suspect you will end up in trouble again with it (i.e. if it dips down below freezing on a regular basis). If you really heaped it up and put a thick layer of straw and a tarp over top I’m sure you’d be fine – but not sure if you had that sort of approach in mind.

    Anyway – thanks everyone for chiming in!

  2. I saw a bin the other day and stopped, but it was broken…however, I have saved enough bagged leaves, pumpkins and bales of straw from the curb to more than fill a dump truck!

    Here are the totals of “trash” turned into gardening gold at the Texas Worm Ranch in the last year (approx.):
    Family veggie and fruit scraps: average of 5 lbs a day X 365 days= 1825 lbs
    Halloween Pumpkins from us, friends, and picked up curbside; at least 100 pumpkins of various sizes, avg size 6 lbs = 600 lbs
    Restaurant Scraps from local cafe: 75 lbs week (started in Sept.) =1200 lbs
    Newspaper and Cardboard for bedding: 10 lbs/week= 520 lbs
    Straw bales picked up curbside after Halloween=5 bales at 40 lbs=200 lbs
    Bags of Leaves picked up on Curbside=40 bags X 20 lb average=800 lbs
    Garden Waste= 100 lbs of plant trimmings=100 lbs

    So, drumroll please,…..we are somewhere in the vicinity of having removed 5,245 lbs of waste from the City landfill. That is over 2 1/2 tons of waste (U.S. tons)!

    We also repurpose all the neighbor’s milk jugs as Worm Wine containers.

    Is vermicomposting cool, or what?…some of this went to my regular compost or the community garden compost too, but a big load of it has gone straight to the worms (then to the garden as VC!).

    • Patricia
    • January 20, 2010

    I don’t know what they call them but in some office supplies stores and in our local Target they sell a set of metal screens that are about 14″ x`14″. Normally you would pop them together at the corners and use them as a shelf unit. (Some people even use them for rabbit or guinea pig cages). anyways, I found a set of 12 at the thrift store and I use them as screens when I hand harvest over one of my thrift store cat litter boxes. The screen is 1/8″ so it works perfect. Scoop Away cat litter containers are also good for storing castings. I am constantly on the hunt for reusable items that can be reused in my worm projects.

    • Andrew
    • January 20, 2010

    I won’t classify these as “scores” since I have access to a constant supply, but wood pallets and those ~1 gal. clear salad boxes from Costco are always handy for various vermi-related uses.

    I used parts of a pallet to build the base for the small flow through shown in the video I posted earlier. I’m going to use pallets to build a larger flow through soon. I’ve used the pallets to build a holding pen for the massive amount of fall/winter leaves I asked friends/family to save for me.

    The salad boxes are perfect as a countertop kitchen scrap container They can work as pre-rot bins. They’re also perfect as observational worm bins (nestled in a cardboard box most the time) so you can see what the worms are up to.

    • Michael Allen
    • March 5, 2010

    My dads neighbour was throwing away old metal water trouths for the cow.
    Now I raise worms in all 3 of them

    • Michael Allen
    • March 5, 2010

    Also forgot to mention my sisiter worms at a place making the salads you buy at the grociery store.
    And they throw away 3 gallon bucket and other sizes too.
    So she collects them for me. I have friends who use them to put the compost in for my worms.
    All I have to do is collect them & give them another to replace the one I just took for the worms.
    Was thinking of asking McDonalds, Tim Horton, the super markets, etc. if they would do this instead of throwing away the food that could be feed to the worms.
    Also thinking of getting a blender.
    Dads neighbour told me I could use the manure from there cows & horses if I want.

    • Bentley
    • March 11, 2010

    My favorite line: “my sisiter worms at a place making the salads ”
    Haha – you know you are a “worm-head” WHEN!! (and if you don’t even notice what I’m talking about you are even MORE of a worm head!!)

    Seriously though – that all sounds great, Mike!

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