Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Worm Bin Update

Our worms have been busy eating our kitchen scraps and leaving us wonderful black worm castings. It is time to add a new bin on top of the old one. If you remember my original post on Vermiculture, you will recall I drilled a bunch of 1/4 inch holes in the bottom of the worm bin. This allows any excess liquid to leave the system and helps ventilate the bin. The holes also serve another function. They allow the worms to migrate between bins.

When your first bin is ready to harvest all you need to do is make another bin, fill it with bedding, add some food and place it directly on top of the worm casting in the first bin. The worms will eventually migrate through the holes seeking the new food source. I am not sure how long this process will take but I assume in a couple months most of the worms will have moved to the new bin.

 I sat watching Jericho on Netflix and shredded a lot of newspaper over the weekend. I might pick up a small paper shredder if I can find one cheap because this takes a long time. It sucks even more when you are happily shredding away watching episode 7, season 2 of Jericho and find out the show was cancelled and never picked back up. If my nerd rage had a physical manifestation it would take the form of a laxative Golem. This Golem would enter the CBS studios and lock it down, not letting anyone leave. Eventually the food would run out and the only thing left to eat would be the laxative Golem. Weakened from their long ordeal, maybe the executives of CBS would think twice about following the advice of their shit for brains colleagues in the future.

Okay, now that that is off my chest, I feel much better. This is what all that shredded newspaper shrinks down to once you wet it down. You want about a 1/3rd of the bin full of moist newspaper or whatever you use for your bedding.

 You will want to add some food to the new bin. Check my previous post on Vermiculture for a list of what worms like to eat. I put in a mix of kale stems, sweet potato peels and frozen blueberries. Hopefully this will be an irresistible lunch for our worms.

 Make sure you cover up any food you put in a worm bin. This keeps the bin from smelling and fruit flies from finding your bin.

This is the old bin. It is almost completely worms and worm castings. There are a few undigested paper scraps still in the bin, but they will easily be sifted out when I harvest the castings. 


 Look at how rich these castings look. The worms are healthy, abundant and I assume happy, though I am no worm whisperer...yet.

Now all you need to do is place the new bin directly on top of the casting of the old bin and wait. There are faster ways of separating your worms from the castings but I have plenty of time before I will need all of the casting this spring. Vermiculture is part of my greater Permaculture design plans for our property. I plan on splitting my worms soon and making a whole new system. I want to start a vermiculture system under our future rabbit hutches to compost some of the rabbit pellets. How many worms in your house is enough? All of them.


  1. Wow ! These red wigglers can really work wonders when it comes to recycling, surely a boon to mankind's answer to recycling waste into soil nutrients for plants to grow; which reminds me of a good website I chanced upon for all supplies in vermicomposting !

  2. Hey Patrick! Thanks for posting more info on vermicomposting :). Where do you get your wigglers from? We are looking to begin a worm bin ourselves but hate to order online due to the super cold temps. Any local suggestions? I was going to try calling some bait shops today...

    1. Ah... now in reading your original vermiculture post, I see you ordered from Uncle Jim's Worm Farm. That is who I was looking to order from as well if I was using an online source. Perhaps I could just camp out here all day the day they are to be delivered to make sure they don't turn into worm-sicles as I keep seeing that Uncle Jim's is a good source.

    2. Hey Lauren,

      Yeah Uncle Jim's is a good source. I don't know of any local sources. I hope to one day become a local supplier but I need to grow my operation significantly to do so. Red wrigglers do multiply pretty easily but when you start with one bin its going to take a while. Maybe you can have them sent to your local post office for pick up like they do live chickens. Bait shops do not have the specific worm you want which is Eisenia fetida, red wrigglers. Looks like Uncle Jim's has 2000 worms on sale for 29.95 + shipping. I started with 1000 and my colony is doing very well. Good luck and let me know if you have any questions.

    3. Question: Do you see any issues with using three wooden drawers as a makeshift worm factory? The drawers are 6 inches deep, 24 inches long and 15 inches wide. My thought was to drill holes in the bottom of each and stack them on top of one another; topping the last one with a cabinet door on hinges so that they can migrate from one to the next as necessary. They fit pretty snug on top of one another but I wondered what other considerations I am overlooking. I want to have their home sorted out before I place my order :). Should I do something to seal the edges of where one layer meets another to prevent escapes? Thanks so much for your help Patrick and thank you for your posts... we love your blog!

  3. Hey Lauren, When you stack the drawers do they nest in each other at all? I ask because once your first bin is ready to harvest you will need to place the next bin on top of the worm castings. The bottom of the new bin needs to sit directly on top of the castings so the worms can migrate up through the holes. If there is a gap between the finished castings and the bottom of the new bin they won't be able to move up. I have heard of some down migrating systems but I do not have any experience with them. You could use each drawer separately and start two bins at once. You can harvest worm castings in a bin by adding new bedding and feeding on one side only once the rest of the bin is ready to harvest. I have not had an issue with escapees, if your bin is balanced properly with bedding food and moisture they like to stay where they are. Just don't overfeed them, start small and observe. I will try to find a down migrating worm bin online to see how it is done. Not sure if they would just drop the few inches to get the new food. Maybe you could mound up the new bedding under the old bin and they might migrate down then. I will let you know if I find anything.

  4. No, they don't nest... I knew I was likely missing some integral detail... haha I have since scoured our house in the hopes of using something we already have and have also thought of stacking 5 gallon buckets as well. However, I have ordered 2000 wigglers (since we're vegetarians who also juice=lots of composting material!) and think that we would probably need at least 2 separate 5 gallon setups for that many worms. So, it would probably make the most sense in the long-run to create a setup like you have so that they have enough space to thrive. Thanks for your help and have a lovely weekend!

  5. Hey Lauren, 5 gallon buckets would work, I have never thought of that. I would split them 1000 in each set up. I have heard you shouldn't start a system with less than that. I would make sure the 5 gallon buckets are half full of bedding material after you wet it down. Just remember to start out feeding them a little at a time. I would put in about 1 cup of your juice pulp to start and check on them a few days later. You shouldn't have to add water to the system especially since you will be giving them juicer remains. Drill a lot of vent holes on the top of the bucket walls with a 1/16 drill bit at least 2 rows all the way around the bucket about an inch apart. Use a 1/4 inch bit to drill the holes on the bottom of the bucket. You will need to put a small handful of compost or garden soil in when you start the system. I would go out to your garden now and bring in a little bit of soil to use. Don't put a lot in I would say about a cup of soil for each system. Let me know if you have anymore questions. I keep the scraps I am going to feed the worms in the freezer in ziplock bags, this helps break down the scraps before you feed them. Good luck!