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Old 06-04-2009, 08:13 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Cheap home made worm composter

I finally got my worm composter built! It took me a couple of tries to get the right trays. I tried to make them out of plastic flats from when my fiance bought flowers at Meijer. The plastic ended up being to thin and the sides were to short. We only produce about 2 - 3 lbs of compostable waste per week.

Here is how I made it.

I took a Rubbermade tote (I have seen them at Target for $5.99) and drilled holes in the lid and the top of the sides. I drilled a large hole in the bottom of one of the sides, inserted a hose end clamp ($0.99 at Meijer), and super glued it in place to seal it. I cut (2' length) and attached a hose (found in garage when we moved in and was only 4' long) to the hose end clamp. I put a zip tie in the handle of the tote to hold up the hose. This keeps the worm tea from draining out of the hose. For the trays, I went to the rubbermade and sterilite section of Target and found two 12" W x 18" L x 4" deep sterilite trays ($2.99 each). I drilled small holes in the bottom of the trays to allow the water to drain and to allow the worms to migrate between trays. I ripped newspaper into 1/2" wide strips and dipped them in a bucket of water. I squeezed the excess water out of the newspaper. I added organic potting soil (about 25% of tray), grass clippings (25%) and burried my first 1/2 lbs of compostables (banana peels, pepper cores, and crushed egg shells) to the first tray and covered with the damp newspaper. I went to the local bait shop and bought one dozen jumbo red wigglers (side bonus: can be used for fishing too ) for $3.49. I added the jumbos to the tray. I placed the tray in the tote on top of one of the thin plastic flats from Meijer flower purchase. I keep the worm composter in my garage and it does have a slight smell (coffee grounds smell so not a bad smell) since the worm population needs to grow to match our waste.

I checked on the worms last night and they are doing great.

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Old 06-04-2009, 08:41 AM   #2 (permalink)
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How do you separate the compost from the worms?
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Old 06-04-2009, 10:53 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I can't quite picture it from your description. Can you post photos or drawings?
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Old 06-04-2009, 06:14 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I will post pics on Saturday.

Once the first tray (bottom one) is full, I place the second tray on it with compostables, grass, dirt, and paper. The worms migrate to the second tray for the food through the holes in the bottom of the tray. After a few days, I rotate the trays and leave the lid off. The worms will leave the top tray to get away from the light. Then, harvest the worm castings. I did it this way cause I didn't want to have to sort the worms out by hand.
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Old 06-06-2009, 02:45 PM   #5 (permalink)
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pics

I added pics.

Flickr: wwkayaker's Photostream
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Old 08-23-2009, 11:27 AM   #6 (permalink)
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You don't. Worms just keep doing their thing and breeding as long as you keep putting clippings, leaves, veggie scraps (no meat, no egg shells or animals will tear it apart) and my personal favorite; hair clippings.
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Old 08-23-2009, 11:39 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I should have mentioned something about worm composting. It's less about the composting than it is having a box of pet worms that you are feeding regularly. They won't "run away" as long as food is available. The benefit as a human to owning a box of pet worms is good compost for the garden. lol
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Old 03-14-2010, 01:13 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I harvested my worm castings easily using the tips that I got from this article:

Quote:
look for a flat surface where you could dump the contents of your compost bin (a table would do very well). Cover the area with a sheet of plastic and then empty the contents of your compost bin into the flat surface. Shine light (artificial or natural light will do) onto the mound.

Divide the large mound into a number of smaller mounds around the area of the plastic sheet. As the mounds receive more and more light, the Red worms will move downward to avoid the heat and the light. Gather the top layers of the mounds as these are already the compost that you are waiting for. After doing these the worms will again be exposed to more heat and light. This will force them to go even deeper into the mounds. Repeat this process until you are left with the piles which are just enough to house the worms.
I can't post the link here since my account is new.

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Originally Posted by Daox View Post
How do you separate the compost from the worms?
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Old 03-15-2010, 08:29 AM   #9 (permalink)
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A quick update: I have removed the hose from the side of the bottom tote. I have not had any water in the bottom of my bin. Now the hole just provides an addition source of air.

I also bought another rubbermade tote of the same size and put holes in the sides and bottom of it. This tote holds the worms. The trays in the pictures were not big enough for the amounts of compostables that we generate. I will be buying a third one in a couple months for harvesting because it is less work and time on my part than the sheet of plastic method.

Last, I didn't buy enough worms. I should have bought 1/2 lbs instead of the 10 dozen. They don't reproduce fast enough to get up to the numbers we require. Even after 9 months, there are not enough worms to keep up with 1/4 of the compostables that we create. I will be ordering 1/2 lbs within the next couple of weeks.

This would have made my start up cost at around $50 (3x$6for totes+$30 for worms). Still not a bad price.

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