Worm Inn Journal-08-02-10

I am very happy to report that I am finally back in action with my ongoing adventure with Worm Inns! Many of you will likely recall that I decided to take down my “Overfeeding Challenge” Worm Inn back in May (see “Worm Inn Journal-05-13-10“) so that I could put all my focus on my outdoor systems and gardening efforts.

As you can see, for my latest round of Worm Inn fun we have a NEW look! The camo pattern is pretty darn sweet (lol), and I am quite proud of the wooden stand I managed to put together (with my dad) – but my supplier sent me a sharp looking green Inn (an unexpected surprise), along with the PVC stand kit I had requested!

Just as a review, the stand kit consists of eight PVC corner pieces and four zip ties. The PVC piping for the actual structure can easily be purchased at your local hardware shop (unlike the corner pieces, which can sometimes be a tad challenging to track down). I ended up buying my piping from Home Depot. It is 3/4″ schedule 40 PVC – not the fancy white stuff they were charging an arm and a leg for, but an inexpensive gray version that will be every bit as strong. It comes in ten foot lengths – you will need to buy three of these and then have them cut down to size (or do it yourself). To build the stand you’ll need eight 18″ lengths and four 36” lengths.

I’ve gotta say that I was kicking myself for procrastinating (waiting so long to buy the piping) once I started putting the stand together. I can’t believe how EASY it was! All said and done (including securing the Worm Inn with the zip ties), it probably took me 5-10 minutes MAX! Needless to say, it took a LOT longer to put together the wooden stand!

I’ve written a fair bit about setting up a Worm Inn, but the way I see it, there’s no harm in reviewing the process here. It is pretty simple and straightforward – basically just a bedding-food-bedding layering system. But BEFORE I did any of this, I made sure to secure the drawstring bottom. This consists of tightening the strings, then constricting the bottom with a couple of wraps around (with the string) before finally tying a knot (don’t go too crazy here – you want to be able to get it undone eventually! haha).

This is something I always do when setting up a new Worm Inn – just to make sure everything is nicely contained. Once there is a decent amount of vermicompost in the bottom of the system we can simply go back to using the drawstring opening the way it was intended.

The “bedding” I would typically use when setting up a small worm composting system is shredded cardboard – I’ve found that this alone works great.

Today, because I happened to have a nice tub of coco coir just sitting around waiting to be put to good use, I decided to use some. Combining a really absorbant, fine-particle material like coir with a bulkier material like shredded cardboard is actually a great approach since you basically end up with the best of both worlds (water-holding + aeration).

Adding the “food” was a very simple matter of dumping a bag of food waste that had been sitting in my deep freezer. Nothing fancy here AT ALL. Freezing is a great strategy in its own right though, since it does a great job of starting the structural breakdown of the materials.

Once the food was dumped in, I simply covered it up with more coir and then a final (very thick) layer of cardboard.

As you can see, I set up the new Worm Inn outside. I think I am actually going to keep it outside for awhile to see how it works in an outdoor location. As per usual, I will let the system age for a week or so before adding the worms.
I don’t currently have plans for any sort of off-the-wall experiment. I think for once I might actually use a worm composting system the way it was intended!
We shall see!

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Worm Cocoon Hatching-08-04-10

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Jack Chambers on PBS


    • John Duffy
    • August 3, 2010

    Ah c’mon Bentley…Nothing “off the wall”? What will we have to look forward to? Where is that creative spark?
    All musings aside, everytime I check on my wiggly little friends, I can’t help but think…Bentley would be proud…My “squirm” is doing well and I have you & all the vermiphiles out there to thank for readily sharing all your helpful information.
    This whole vermi-adventure is truly a fun, informative, interesting, and a productive endeavor of which I hope to get as many people interested in as I can…Why should we have all the fun?
    As I look to the future of waste management, I see today’s children being the key players of tomorrow’s organic solutions.
    Parents, teachers & school administrators, this is your casting call ( no pun intended) The ball is in your court. Don’t fumble it.
    Start a worm composting bin TODAY…Tomorrow may be too late

  1. What I like about those is the contemporary design and with the breath able fabric give you 6 surfaces for the worms rather than 1 on a rubbermaid bin or 2 surfaces on a flow thru.
    This type of worm bin would help mainstream vermicomposting.

    • Steve K
    • August 3, 2010

    I agree with what John said. When I was digging through my BOM over the weekend, looking at the many worms and coccoons in there, I couldn’t help but think, “man, Bentley would be proud to see so many happy worms in here!” Thank you for all the help you ahve given me and everyone else, through this web site. Please keep it up.

    Also, it’s good to see the photos of the Worm Inn, as you set it up. I originally found your web site after seeing a video of your overfeeding challenge (I think at your supplier’s web site), and I plan to buy a Worm Inn soon, now that my first bin is going strong, and I have realized that I am turning into a wormhead.

    @Mark: I never thought of the W.I. as having more sides that let in air. What a cool way of thinking aout it, as compared to the one side on a plastic bin.

    • Steve K
    • August 3, 2010

    I plan to buy a Worn Inn this fall, when I split my existing worm bin. In the mean time, I have added a link to your site on my Amazon wishlist, for a Worm Inn. The only thing better than having a Worm Inn is having someone else buy it for you! Amazon now has a “Universal Wishlist” function, which anyone can use to build a wishlist for things Amazon doesn’t sell. Yes, they sell worms, but they don’t sell Bentley’s worms. You just add their addon to your browser, then link to the worn inn page. It’s super easy. If anyone is interested, here is more info:


  2. I am happy that you are starting up the Worm Inn. I have had mine for a while and am not seeing a lot of progress in the inn. It takes a lot of watering to keep it moist and attracts lots of fruit flies. My other bin is a Can O Worms and it seems to be more productive. Maybe your new entries will spark some renewed knowledge to help me along. I just feel that the stackable bin at present is more predictable and more accessible for feeding and harvesting.

    thank you in advance for any new insights.

    • Bentley
    • August 4, 2010

    JOHN – Every so often it’s nice to just be normal! lol
    Joking aside, you have nothing to fear since I have already come up with an idea for this system – nothing earth shattering, but should still be interesting!
    MARK – I agree! I think this type of system will help to attract a lot of newcomers, and hopefully the ease-of-use factor will help to retain many of them as ongoing vermicomposters!
    STEVE – Glad to hear that everything is going well on your end. Thanks for your “wishlist” gesture! Hopefully your wish ends up being granted!
    GEORGE – Really glad you chimed in! That is very interesting (largely due to the fact that it is almost a polar opposite viewpoint from my own! haha). Let’s continue to compare notes!

    • Kim from Milwaukee
    • August 4, 2010

    Bentley, check this out!!!


    Go wormies! Go wormies!!!


    • Bentley
    • August 5, 2010

    That’s cool, Kim! Gotta love Instructables, eh?

    • Kim from Milwaukee
    • August 5, 2010

    I just love that people are getting on the wormy bandwagon!!! Viva la vermi!!

    • Ash
    • August 17, 2010

    keep an eye on those cable ties, the sun will degrade them rather quickly. or at least it does in Australia šŸ™‚

    • Bentley
    • August 18, 2010

    Yeah, good point Ash. I suspect the Inn itself probably shouldn’t spend TOO much time in direct sunlight for that same reason as well (although I’m sure it would take quite a lot longer to have a negative impact).

    • BA
    • August 24, 2010

    just a tip…

    I would recommend that you put some fishing line (heavy lb. test) through the drawstring area…just last week the string that came with mine rotted and the contents of my worm inn fell out, it wasn’t pretty

    • BA
    • August 24, 2010

    Do any of you also have a huge population of black solider fly grubs in your worm inn? I’m wondering if that is what caused all my worms to do (it seems like it shouldn’t).

    • Bentley
    • August 24, 2010

    BA – Thanks for mentioning that. When did you buy your Worm Inn? There were apparently some troubles encountered with the original drawstring material, but Jerry (Worm Inn company owner) has switched over to something much more durable (I think it is the same stuff used in commercial fishing nets or something like that).

    As for BSFL – we don’t get them up here, but I do know they are VERY common in outdoor worm composting systems in many parts of the US.
    You said “Iā€™m wondering if that is what caused all my worms to do” – did you mean “die”?
    Based on what I’ve read, the two are supposed to get along just fine, so I would suspect some other cause to be the culprit there.

    • BA
    • August 24, 2010

    yeah that was a typo, meant “die”

    I got it from you back in June of this year

    I actually strung some carpenter string through there temporarily until I can string some fishing line

    I have a huge BSF colony real close to the worm inn (in a biopod) so they couldn’t help but lay eggs in the worm inn I guess, someone mentioned somewhere else that maybe it got too hot in the worm inn…do you know what temp the worms start to have trouble?

    • Bentley
    • August 24, 2010

    Thanks for the additional details. Pretty sure the new strings were added sometime in July so that would make sense.

    Please email me with your name so I can arrange to have a new string sent out to you.

    I was actually wondering about heat as well – another customer of mine had all their worms die in an outdoor Worm Inn this year due to the heat. This type of system can certainly handle higher temps than enclosed plastic systems, but there are still limits. BSFLs are a lot more tolerant of heat.
    I would definitely think that trouble could start by the time temps reach 90 or so in the system, but many factors involved so hard to say for sure.

    • BA
    • August 24, 2010

    it has been extremely hot here this year, the ambient temp has been near 100 almost every day and my worm inn is outside so perhaps that is the real cause of the die off

    BSF love hot humid weather though it hasn’t bothered them at all

    I will send you an email…I may wait until things start to cool down and get another batch of red worms

    • koolkid
    • August 28, 2010

    hey bently nice to see a new worm inn journal!!!!!!

  3. Bently: I have been meaning to ask you something, will you be doingsomething cool with a Worm Inn like making videos about whats happening in it? Videos speak even more then pictures.

    • Bentley
    • September 14, 2010

    Hi Koolkid,
    I may do some videos about the Worm Inn later this fall or during the winter. Just trying to make some progress on other important (RWC) projects.
    I definitely plan to make a LOT more videos before too long.


    • koolkid
    • October 27, 2010

    Thnxs sorry for late response šŸ˜‰

    I’m curruntly doing a mealworm overfeeding challange which is doing good so far.

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