Tag Archives: worm composting

Worm Factory 360 Review

When it comes to vermicomposting, I’m a big fan although it requires some attention to ensure the worms are happy.  I’ve made my own worm bins in the past, and then decided to focus my attention on the Worm Inn system: better airflow, easier harvesting of castings.

I kinda forgot about the Worm Factory 360.  It’s been on the market for a while now, but I never paid attention to it since I started with making my own bin anyway.

I was hanging out at my friend Brian’s house, and he wanted me to take a look at his worm system in the basement.  I had noticed a few flies in his house before he led me downstairs, and I figured they were from his Worm Factory…I was right.

I took a look around on some forums, and that seems to be a common issue with this thing- and now I see why.  Here’s a picture of his system:

Upon opening it up, right away I noticed that all the trays were not only full of castings, but they were full of friggin awesome castings.

I was impressed.  The castings were really moist, and that’s the thing with plastic…it doesn’t breathe well, if at all.  There are little gaps around the edges of the trays, maybe this is intentional to get some necessary airflow in there.

There were a lot of critters inside, indicating the system was alive and… well?  Maybe slightly out of balance- it was lacking cardboard.  Worms love cardboard, and I’m not sure if that’s scientifically been proven yet, but they like crawling in the corrugated tubes and I’ve read that the glue is tasty to them (can anyone confirm this?).

Besides taming the flies, the spigot seems to be the other design challenge.  Looking at the bottom tray, it was holding a significant amount of leachate because the castings were clogging up the spigot.  Makes sense.

What I didn’t expect was that although the bottom trays were all processed into castings, they still contained plenty of worms.  The worms seemed to go where they pleased (which is great and I’m happy for them), but I figured they’d all be in the top tray focused on eating the food.

How would I rate this thing?  Well, I only hung out with it (them) for about 10 minutes…but based on that, it exceeded my expectations.  I think they have the potential to be a really solid system with next to no issues, but you have to work a little bit for it.  Keep the dry materials coming into this thing and I think the castings/spigot/flies issues should become minimized.

If you’d like to learn more about one of these, I suggest clicking here to go to the company page on Amazon.  Plus, it’s always fun to read Amazon reviews, isn’t it?

Charlotte Airport to Open Recycling Center with Composting System

Charlotte Airport to Open Recycling Center With Composting System

I love this dude! I’m lousy at any form of gardening/cooking and watching his videos gives good tips and perspective.

I’m glad he made a video just for this announcement…it’s a good one that we shall see more of in the future, I’m sure.

Think about ideal candidates for sorting waste…airports should be up there on your list. It’s already so restrictive as it is, that with some adjusting to the food establishments you could easily control your waste stream even more to prevent any contamination.

It appears that they’re looking at a 5 year ROI which isn’t bad at all, and it’s one heck of a message to the others out there. They don’t seem to mention anything about separating the other waste streams, but that must be part of the package, too. An onsite Material Recovery Facility (MRF) has shown great success, particularly in Florida where it’s been catching on a bit.

Want to read the original article? Click here:
Click here for the “Charlotte to Install First Airport Worm Composting System” article.

Winter Composting (youtube)

Winter Composting

Here’s my man Bentley showing how to compost all winter using those squiggly, squirmy friends of ours…worms.  He always uses cheesy music for his videos, this one is no exception.  However, the info is good enough that you nearly ignore the music anyway.  Being cold sucks.

Harvesting Vermicompost (youtube)

Harvesting Vermicompost

My worms are working their way through the bin quickly, gobbling up everything I put in front of them…so how do I transfer them to a new bin when it’s time?  My man Bentley has a great video showing the best technique for transferring the dudes to a new house.

The Urban Legend of Citrus Peels

I’ve received some funny emails recently regarding the pH of compost and whether or not citrus peels can be thrown in there.

Simply put, there’s nothing wrong with putting any amount of citrus fruit in your compost.  In fact, as you just saw in the last week my compost tumbler nearly doubled its temperature after I added a huge bucket of citrus fruit waste…nothing wrong with that!

I think that this perception comes from vermicomposting more than anything, as it helps to keep citrus waste to a minimum for the worms.  Even still, you can add it in small amounts.

Does anyone have a different view on this?  I’m tending to think it’s all hearsay, and anyone that actually tries to compost citrus peels will see that it’s just fine.

My Experience With Vermicomposting (article)

I found this story, which explains one guy’s solution to living in an apartment and wanting to compost.  There wasn’t really an option to set up anything large or create something unique, so he went with the worm bin.  I really think worm bins are going to catch on in the future and be more or less well known as something to do.

Why should you care?  Well, you shouldn’t.  I can’t tell you what to do, and frankly I don’t want to.  But I can assure you it’s fun to compost and that you should give it a shot.  Don’t you miss trying out science experiments?  I hated school, but I always loved trying new things…and this is the perfect candidate and it’s pretty darn foolproof when you know the basics.

Let’s read what C.B. has to say:

After reading about Vermicomposting (the process of using worms as a way to recycle discarded food scraps and make compost) online I was so intrigued by the idea that I just had to give it a go. I had been researching conventional composting practices because I wanted a way to cut down on the amount of garbage that I was throwing away, but was having trouble figuring out how I could do it.

For one thing, I live in an apartment so short of my balcony there’s really nowhere else I could start a compost heap. It’s not advised to have one so close to your house because they generally do produce something of an odor, but I was still willing to do so if it was the only way. Besides that though, all the yard maintenance of the complex was contracted out and conducted very efficiently. It would be hard to come up with the necessary refuse to supply the “brown” material for a compost pile.

Enter Vermicomposting
While I was browsing around I kept noticing mention of “Vermicomposting” or “composting with worms” and kept putting off reading about it. Something in the back of my head just kind of assumed “there’s no way I’m doing that.” Most people probably have a similar bias towards worms; sad but true. Finally I did read a few articles about it, and was intrigued by people saying how easy, mess-free and (most importantly) odorless it was. Worm bins are commonly kept indoors and produce no discernible odor whatsoever. This is what really got me interested, because my deck is often in full sunlight and thus not ideal for regular compost or Vermicomposting. If I could keep them inside, then that made it a viable option.

When I remembered that I’d seen the specific kind of worm used in Vermicomposting, “red wigglers” at the local PetsMart before, that pretty much sealed the deal. If you can’t get worms locally then you have to have them shipped, which was somewhat off-putting. But since I could, that meant I could literally start Vermicomposting that day. Perfect!

My Vermicomposting Setup
It turns out that PetsMart was out of stock of red worms that day, but doing a quick search online I was able to find a store that sold live bait situated on a nearby river – voila. I drove out and purchased a single small plastic tub of worms (the woman who sold them to me said there was about forty in it, but I’m not so sure about that.) I figured one tub would be fine since I produce very little waste (one heaping handful of scraps or less daily, on average) and I compensated by buying a much smaller bin than most sites recommend, about 18″ x 10″. I accidentally goofed and bought a clear bin (worms don’t like light), but I solved that by wrapping it in duct tape; after stealing some free classified newspapers from outside a local grocery I was ready to go.

The whole “micro-Vermicomposting” setup cost me under $10, including my new worm friends, and took about an hour to get everything assembled nicely. I introduced scraps I’d been saving immediately and did my best to resist the urge to go and look at them and check their progress. The morning after I set up the bin I was a little alarmed to see three renegade worms dried out on the carpet (only one survived) that had ventured out during the night – this typically means that conditions in the bin were unfavorable. It was apparently a one-time thing though, and I’ve had no additional problems in any way with my worms. I will be buying several more tubs to add in and speed up their consumption rate, but otherwise the entire system is beautifully self-contained.

I am a thoroughly convinced convert to the practice of Vermicomposting and intend to inform everyone in my family about it and hopefully get them started. I hope this article has helped clarify some of the mystery surrounding it for you and allows you to overcome any inherent aversion to the idea you might be harboring.           -CB Michaels

What’s the secret to successful composting through the winter?

What’s the secret to successful composting through the winter? Building a worm bin, of course. Now don’t get afraid, just stay with me here. For some reason, people get scared by the thought of having worms in their kitchen. I promise it’s not bad, and you’ll learn to love it. New to worms? I’ll explain what you need to know so you can get started in no time.

Backyard composting is my favorite, I love to do it and spend time every day with my dirt. I’m not even much of a gardener, I just love the dirt. However, when winter arrives it can really slow down the composting process and I don’t really like going outside so much. The solution to this is creating your own worm bin.

Sure, you can buy a series of worm trays, which may cost you near $100 depending on how many trays you get, but I find that this design is a bit laborious to deal with. A much simpler method involves using a “shallow”, opaque tub with between 10 and 20 1/8″ holes drilled around the top. The worms need a good mix of moisture and oxygen to do their thing, and they don’t like light. Must be great to be a worm.

The main ingredient to worm bins is shredded paper and cardboard, this acts as their bedding. Like a compost pile, add your food scraps, but avoid the meat and dairy products. One exception is eggshells, which are high in calcium and promote worm reproduction. More worms equals more productivity, although I recommend starting small and let them reach their natural equilibrium.

Alternate layers of cardboard/paper and food scraps, ending with a layer of cardboard. Spray the bin down with water to get it moist, then let it sit for at least a week before adding any worms. You can order red wigglers online for between $20 and $40, or maybe you know someone that has some already. It reminds me of sharing tools with the neighbors, giving out kombucha babies, finished compost. If you don’t know anyone with them, then I guess you’ve volunteered as the starting point of giving out worms to future composters. Good for you.

Although I live in a tightly packed city, I’m lucky to have a backyard and be able to have an awesome compost tumbler. I realize it’s not as easy for others to do, so worm composting is definitely the way to go. It’s ideal for apartment dwellers to try out and see the results for themselves. You’ll nearly cut your garbage in half, and you’ll have some super-fertile compost to use in your garden, or give to someone else that does.

So there’s your project for this winter: Set up a worm bin, reap the benefits and try not to have too much fun with it. It’s addictive, and you can feel really good about it. Happy composting!