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Thread: My homemade Worm Bin and Worm Casting Harvester

  1. #1
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    Jun 2008

    Default My homemade Worm Bin and Worm Casting Harvester






    I made the wooden worm bin and worm casting harvester around 2 years ago. Vermiculture is a hobby of mine. If anyone is interested in it I recommend Mary Appelhof's book "Worm's Eat My Garbage".

    I copied the worm casting harvester idea off the internet but using a 45 gallon plastic storage tote was my idea. I've seen other people use 2x4 stands and just let the castings fall into a trough , tarp, or tray of some sort.

    The type of worm bin I have is called a "Flow-through" type bin where the worms can wiggle their way up or down going from tray to tray looking for food. I used 1x5's for my trays but you can use 1x4's, 2x4's, 2x6's , ect. I used 1/4" mesh screen wire for the bottom of each tray tacking them with a staple gun.

    The dimensions of the trays are 16" x 24". I only have 4 trays and use lathe strips on the top of each tray to act like a snap-lock to hold each tray in place. I can always build additional trays and stack them like lego toys

    4 trays for this bin is enough for me since I also have another plastic 6 tray worm bin I ordered off the internet.

    I enjoy harvesting worm castings as it's among the best natural organic fertilizer there is. Keeping your worm bin around 6.5 pH is optimum but between 6.5 and 7.0 pH is fine.

    Too much used coffee grounds and tea bags can lower the Ph too low and can kill your worms. I use nothing but ground egg shells to keep my worm bin pH in the 6.5 range. Since egg shells contain calcium carbonate , they will neutralize the worm bin.

    The worm bin stand I made is 18" tall and I made it to support more than enough weight. The bottom of the worm bin stand is made of OSB and the legs and sides of it are 2x4's.
    Likes aussie_gary liked this post

  2. #2
    No Array Thalassa's Avatar
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    May 2009
    6w7 sx
    SEE Fi


    Cool! My ESFJ friend has this (she poked multiple small breathing holes in stacking Tupperware storage bins, the large ones that can hold clothing or toys) and we fed them egg shells and tea bags and banana peels...and they have been thriving for nearly a year now, I used some of their soil in my shamrock plant which was half-dead (seriously looked like it was on its way out) because we moved around and had so much chaos for a few months, and I had to keep tending to it to barely keep it alive....and now it's thriving.
    "Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul." - Edward Abbey

    SEE-Fi /Gamma

  3. #3
    eating bugs out of hair. Array prplchknz's Avatar
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    Jun 2007


    i need to get my eyes/brain checked. i read worm bin as women bin. and i'm like a bin to store women in, that sounds a bit sexist than i realized it said worm bin
    by @magpie

  4. #4
    thankful Array PeaceBaby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Werewolfen View Post
    If anyone is interested in it I recommend Mary Appelhof's book "Worm's Eat My Garbage".
    It's the best book I've found too. Short, sweet, simple.

    I haven't started my bin up since we last moved. Thanks for this thread as a reminder to get that on my "to do " list.
    "Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one."
    Eleanor Roosevelt

    "When people see some things as beautiful,
    other things become ugly.
    When people see some things as good,
    other things become bad."
    Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

  5. #5
    Ghost Monkey Soul Array Vizconde's Avatar
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    On of my earliest memories is seeing a worm bin. It for some reason fascinated me as a child as a mysterious/taboo place.

    I also believe in worm castings to systemically protect some plants from some environmental threats.
    I redact everything I have written or will write on this forum prior to, subsequent with and or after the fact of its writing. For entertainment purposes only and not to be taken seriously nor literally.

    Quote Originally Posted by Edgar View Post
    Spamtar - a strange combination of boorish drunkeness and erudite discussions, or what I call "an Irish academic"

  6. #6
    insert random title here Array Randomnity's Avatar
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    May 2007
    6w5 sp/sx


    cool! how does it work? I assume it's better than regular compost (which generally also has worms) for some reason?
    -end of thread-

  7. #7
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    Vermicast Fertilizer Characteristics


    Vermicast nutrient content varies with earthworm feed type, but feeding waste to earthworms does cause nitrogen mineralization, followed by phosphorous and sulphur mineralization after egestion. A typical nutrient analysis of casts is C:N ratio 12–15:1; 1.5%–2.5% N, 1.25%–2.25% P2O5 and 1%–2%, K2O at 75%–80% moisture content. The slow-release granules structure of earthworm casts allows nutrients to be released relatively slowly in sync with plant needs.


    Ammonium is the main contributor to salinity levels. Earthworms are repelled by salinity levels above 5 mg/g. Therefore, if the starting material is low in salt, the resulting vermicast will be as well. In fresh vermicast, ammonium mineralized in the earthworm gut is nitrified over 2 weeks.


    Pathogen levels are low in vermicast, which is considered a Type A biosolid when excreted by earthworms. This is a lower pathogen level than in typical composts. Vermicast is low in pathogens because earthworms consume fungi, and aerobic bacteria do not survive low oxygen levels in the gut. Low pathogen levels could also be due to the fact that vermicasting does not build up heat, which allows disease-suppressing organisms to survive the vermicasting process and outcompete pathogens.


    Red wigglers can consume 75% of their body weight per day. Earthworms weigh about 0.2 g and require oxygen and water, both exchanged through their skin.

    As organic matter passes through the earthworm gut, it is mineralized into ammonium (later nitrified) and other plant nutrients. The grinding effect of its gizzard and the effect of its gut muscle movement result in the formation of casts. Most pathogens are consumed in the earthworm gut, since earthworms feed on fungi, and pathogenic bacteria cannot survive in the low-oxygen environment inside the earthworm gut.

    Feed Preferences

    The ideal feed for earthworms is food or animal waste and fresh, green, plant waste, rich in nitrogen or precomposted (for up to 2 weeks to make it easier to digest). Ideally, earthworm feed has a 25:1 carbon-to-nitrogen (C:N) ratio and a pH between 6.5 and 8 (close to neutral) – sudden pH fluctuations repel earthworms. ( my opinion anything over 7.0 pH is too alkaline , most sources and forums agree with the 6.5 to 7.0 pH range)

    Ideal earthworm feed is:

    porous, allowing oxygen to penetrate
    warm (25°C): worms can survive in temperatures 0°C–35°C, but at lower temperatures they are not as active and die at freezing temperatures
    moist, but not wet: 75% moisture is ideal, like wet soil at field capacity (earthworms migrate out of wet materials)
    not too dense: below 640 kg/m3 (40 lb/ft3) – like the fluffy density of peat moss
    not salty: below 0.5% salinity – higher is too toxic
    devoid of toxins such as de-worming medicine, detergent cleansers, pesticides and tannins

    Online calculators for optimizing worm feeds are available. Search online for "vermicasting, feed mixtures with optimal characteristics." The calculation uses the percentage nitrogen, percentage carbon, water content and density of each feed material, plus the total desired feed quantity.< ( I've never seen any online calculators for configuring worm feed )

    Light Sensitivity

    Earthworms have eye-cells on their skin that trigger pain when exposed to any light but blue light, keeping them underground during daylight. They will try to leave any material if it does not meet their feed requirements, but if a light is shining at the surface of the material, they will stay where they are.

    Bin or Reactor Design

    The goal for any vermicasting system is to:

    provide worms with a palatable feed
    have worms digest waste at the highest rate possible
    keep worms from migrating out of or to the edge of the windrows, raised beds or bins

    Waste must:

    have the required pH and salinity levels
    be moist but drained of excess water
    be neither too cold nor too hot
    be stacked in thin layers that diffuse air

    Drainage and Aeration

    For appropriate drainage and aeration, container walls, bottom and side walls must be made of a perforated material. Many commercially available vermicasting bins have a few holes at the bottom for drainage, but this is not enough. A screen-type floor surface allows drainage, unlike common bedding materials. A screen size of 4 mm (5/32 in.) will keep most waste particles in.

    Earthworms will not fall through this size of hole but they can burrow through this size of hole to get to fresh wastes if need be.

    Some commonly used bedding types are dense and can become waterlogged, not allowing air to diffuse through the drainage/aeration holes in the bin bottom. Instead, consider using a layer of finished vermicast on the bin bottom for the start-up period because worms will burrow through it, resulting in good aeration and drainage. Starting with a vermicast layer also provides room to keep the worm stocking density lower than the maximum 300 worms/L of material. Higher densities reduce worm efficiency. Keep an air space of at least 5–10 cm depth (2–4 in.) below the screen floor for free drainage. Earthworms could burrow through the 4-mm screening on the bottom of the bin, but they choose not to because there is no food there, just open air. Leachate draining through can be collected and reintroduced to the bin.


    Waste materials should have a moisture content of 75% (field capacity), never more than 85%. Regular watering, or automatic sprinkling in the case of large scale systems, is usually needed. If waste materials with elevated levels of water content are added, such as food waste (fruits and vegetables are about 90% moisture), watering is not necessary, and drainage will correct the moisture level if it exceeds 75%.

    Thickness of the Waste Layer

    To prevent anaerobic conditions (lack of oxygen), which can result in fermentation and heat build-up, design the vermicasting bin, raised bed or windrow pile to keep the waste layer at a thickness of 30 cm (1 ft) or less. This thickness allows air to passively diffuse into the material, aided by the canals burrowed by earthworms. This keeps the pile aerated and cool, which earthworms prefer. A thin layer of waste helps prevent compaction of the bottom of the waste pile, which might cause poor aeration, fermentation and heat, all of which repel earthworms.

    Active aeration, mixing and temperature control of such a thin layer of waste occurs through the burrowing action of the earthworms. The earthworms do the work, unlike an active composting system where aeration, mixing and temperature control are accomplished by fans and/or machinery.


    Since earthworms require a temperature range of 0°C–35°C (optimum is 25°C), year-round vermicasting systems must be designed carefully for the Ontario climate. The process is odourless but does not generate heat on its own, so one option is to place the bin indoors. If this is not possible, insulate bins and place them partly underground in a sheltered location to help temper outside temperature fluctuations.

    Odours and Flies

    Odorous gases (volatile organic compounds) and heat are produced during fermentation, which can occur in poorly aerated (anaerobic) organic materials. This is often a problem in compost piles if they are not aerated or mixed. However, earthworms thrive in aerobic conditions, where fermentation and the resulting heat and odours do not occur. If designed properly, vermicasters do not produce odours.

    When a vermicaster does produce odours and flies, it is likely due to excess water. Proper drainage using raised screen surfaces (4 mm) at the bottom of the container and/or reducing the thickness of the waste to no more than 30 cm should resolve this situation.

    ( I copied this from here ) >

  8. #8
    Senior Member Array Ism's Avatar
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    Jun 2008


    So cool. :-0

    I've never even heard of this before.

    Improves its physical structure[citation needed]
    Enriches soil with micro-organisms (adding enzymes such as phosphatase and cellulase)
    Microbial activity in worm castings is 10 to 20 times higher than in the soil and organic matter that the worm ingests
    Attracts deep-burrowing earthworms already present in the soil
    Improves water holding capacity
    Plant growth
    Enhances germination, plant growth, and crop yield
    Improves root growth and structure
    Enriches soil with micro-organisms (adding plant hormones such as auxins and gibberellic acid)
    Biowastes conversion reduces waste flow to landfills
    Elimination of biowastes from the waste stream reduces contamination of other recyclables collected in a single bin (a common problem in communities practicing single-stream recycling)
    Creates low-skill jobs at local level
    Low capital investment and relatively simple technologies make vermicomposting practical for less-developed agricultural regions
    Helps to close the "metabolic gap" through recycling waste on-site
    Large systems often use temperature control and mechanized harvesting, however other equipment is relatively simple and does not wear out quickly
    Production reduces greenhouse gas emissions such as methane and nitric oxide (produced in landfills or incinerators when not composted or through methane harvest)
    Neat! =D

  9. #9


    the images must have been sadly removed .I registered to this blog purely to see better details of the roller composter sifter that was shown in Pinterest

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