Worm Inn Mega – 01-28-14

Yesterday I recorded a video “tour” of my Worm Inn Mega system. It might provide everyone with a better perspective re: the size, since you can see various other objects (surprisingly enough, including a toilet! lol). Apart from talking about the specs of the Mega, I provide some commentary on feeding and “critters” (namely springtails).

As you will see, the worm population really seems to have exploded – and the performance of the system has improved accordingly! I am now adding all of our compostable kitchen scraps, and loads of bedding materials, yet still can’t seem to get up past the halfway mark of system volume! lol


UPDATE: I forgot to discuss “watering the system” in the video and THEN even forgot to mention it in my blog post! LoL (thankfully Cleo’s comment reminded me). Depending on where you are located, and where exactly you put your Worm Inn (“Mega” or otherwise), there is a chance you will need to add water to it on a fairly regular basis for “optimal” performance. I’ve actually tended to recommend NOT watering all that much (if at all) in the past, since this helps you avoid having leachate drainage out the bottom (which can lower the quality of your vermicompost, among other disadvantages). It also helps you establish a nice “sweet spot” in the middle, full of beautiful vermicompost. Thanks to a recent email exchange with an RWC reader (who explained that regular waterings have made a huge difference), however, I decided to revisit this practice myself. So far I have actually been really impressed! The worms seem a lot more active in the upper zones and everything seems to be getting processed even more quickly.

That said, I highly recommend small-amounts-added-regularly over large-quantities-added-rarely! And make sure you are adding it across the entire surface rather than in one or two spots. Having leachate drainage is NOT the end of the world (I always keep a bucket down below just in case), but in my humble opinion, you will get better overall performance (and fewer worms in compost) if you aim to keep most of the moisture higher up in the system, as much as possible.

NOTE: My previous recommendation of not really adding much water assumes regular addition of water-rich food wastes, and placement of the system in a sheltered (preferably indoor) location.


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Comments

    • Cleo Castonguay
    • January 28, 2014

    WOW this Worm Inn Mega sure looks like an excellent idea. First time I lay eyes on it. How many pounds of worms do you need in the Inn? I like the screen top keeping the food flies “inn”…
    I’m just getting started into vermicomposting and am trying my hand with “Rubbermaid” tubs.
    Do you ever have to spray water on the food or bedding when you add it in the Worm Inn or is the moisture contained in the food the right amount for the worms’ needs ?
    Is the bucket for leachate or for the castings? How do you collect the castings from the Worm Inn?

    • Emily
    • January 28, 2014

    I would love to see a pros and cons list for the Mega Worm Inn vs. The VermBin. I’m wondering if the differences are just the DIY and cost factors or if it is more about the volume. Thanks!

  1. Hi Bentley,

    Really impressive! Can you tell me the approx. temperature in your bathroom, please?

    Loving the worms,
    ‘WE ARE NOT BAIT”

    Barbara Moss

    • Paul from Winnipeg
    • January 29, 2014

    Hi Bentley,

    Great video! Always interested in updates to your systems. Just amazed at the gobs of worms. The further you dug down the more there were!

    Paul

    • Cleo Castonguay
    • January 30, 2014

    I see you deposit small cut pieces of fruits & veggies on top of the old bedding… Some people deposit fruits & veggies that were passed through a blender and are much more refined sort of. Which of these two methods do you recommend? Is there an advantage or not to blend the food for the worms?

    • Bentley
    • January 31, 2014

    CLEO – In all honesty, you are probably best to start with at least a few pounds of worms. I did start mine with quite a lot less, but I also went really easy on it for a couple of months – and made sure to optimize the food materials before adding them.
    Thanks for the question about the spraying – as I mentioned in my update above, you reminded me that this was an important topic to touch on!
    The bucket is mainly for leachate – just in case. My aim is to keep the system from draining at all – but its better to be prepared than to end up with a puddle on my floor! lol
    The castings will be scraped from the bottom using a small garden hand fork. I’ll likely use a Rubbermaid tub to catch the material.
    ———–
    EMILY – Great idea for a blog post! They are definitely comparable in various ways, yet each have their own advantages. What can I say – I love em both!!
    ———–
    BARBARA – The temp in that bathroom might be somewhere between 60 and 66 F (~16-19C), but temps in the Worm Inn itself are definitely warmer. Reminds me I need to take some temp readings!
    ————
    PAUL – Yeah, it’s really quite surprising. I am really curious to see what the population looks like in say a month or two!
    ————
    CLEO – Blended foods are great as long as you have ample bedding to soak up all that excess liquid. The other thing to be careful with is the amount added. You can reduce the volume by blending, so it doesn’t look like you are adding as much. Easier to “overfeed” as a result.

    • Steve
    • March 1, 2014

    Bentley you mention where it is best not to have leachate as your vermicompost will be of a higher quality. What is your take on recycling leachate back into the worm bin? Is this potentially toxic to the worms?

    • Bentley
    • March 5, 2014

    Hi Steve
    That would probably be fine (especially if it is a mature system), BUT a big part of avoiding leachate is the fact that we don’t want the material down in the bottom of the Inn to be too wet and sloppy. I just did my first harvest from the Mega, and even with NO leachate coming down, I found the vermicompost down there to be very moist (still earthy smelling, though – so no biggie).

    • John
    • May 7, 2014

    Bentley,
    What a fantastic forum this is. Lot’s of great info on red worm composting. I’m fairly new to the Worm Inn. I have the smaller one and it has been up and running for about a month and a half now but I’m kind of struggling with maintaining the correct moisture in the unit feeding once a week. I used coco as the initial bedding and have been freezing and thawing my food source and hand chopping plus adding a little horse manure to it so it’s been fairly wet going in. I have been adding 1/2 cup of water to the system twice weekly but still looks like it could use more. I would like the folks here to chime in on how much water they have been adding and how often. I know each system will be different for each user (ie..what kind of food you are adding,bedding and where the system is located..) but i think this help with a “baseline” for new user.

    • Paul from Winnipeg
    • May 10, 2014

    Hi John,
    I’ve been running a worm inn like yours all winter in my basement at about 16C with an aquarium heater in a sealed bucket of water and humidity 45%. I usually add about a cup or two of water twice a week but the heater does dry out the inn more than otherwise. I am using lots of shredded corrugated cardboard mixed with chopped food scraps as my bedding and I don’t get leachate unless I’ve added some really wet foods. I harvested last week and got 2 gallons of awesome material that was quite moist and good smelling. I’m sure I could have gotten more but my bucket was full. Ha ha. Grand total of 2 worms in the finished compost.

    Like you said each system is different so that might be too much for other systems. Spring is here and the humidity in the basement will go up.

    • John
    • May 12, 2014

    Thank you for sharing Paul
    I think my Worm Inn is in the moisture “sweet spot” now. Since my original post on May 7th I’ve added a total of 5 cups of water over those 5 days. Added 2 cups on the 7th with about 15 mins in between each cup and had a nice steady drip afterwards for about 20 mins. Did the same on the 9th. 1 cup yesterday (11th) and it dripped for about 15 mins. The coco I used for setup was pretty dry. Coco holds moisture but allows for good air flow also and combined with the air flow of the Inn..well ..you get the picture. Anyway, the worms are more active now so I think I’m going to shoot for a cup every other day and wait 15 mins for a drip out the bottom about every 2 or 3 seconds. If I need to adjust for more water,I’ll add another 1/4 or 1/2 and wait for the drip out the bottom.
    Thanks again Paul…

    • Steve
    • May 13, 2014

    Speaking of “sweet spots”, I am considering adding a little sugar-water since I have been reading this stimulates activity on a microbial level and your worms will be a bit more active too. (Sugar is better for the worms than it is for you). I have been misting my mega-inns with approximately 3-3.5 cups of water once a week. My inns seem plenty moist and I am seeing good activity. I am using semi-composted ground food scraps/coffee grounds/fine grind eggshell mix with plenty of shredded cardboard and paper on a weekly basis. Inns are approximately 3/8 full and plenty of dry bedding on top. Something that could be developed is a series of inns with a timed misting system (kind of like a misting system for startup plants, only you are using this one for worms).

    • Bentley
    • May 16, 2014

    Very interesting, Steve!
    I might lean towards molasses or something like that (especially since I seem to have lots of it) – but that’s a cool idea.
    Just remember, though, that sugars are basically a “C” source. It will important to still include your N-foods otherwise things will get off balance. (Your food scraps, grounds etc should do the trick on that front)
    😎

    • John
    • May 16, 2014

    Sweets…hmmmm. I have some dry molasses on hand. I might try in a dedicated spot to see what the worms do with it.

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