mr_yan

5-gallon-bucket X worm inn -- call it an F1 hybrid

mr_yan
December 26, 2011

So I got a little board yesterday while my daughter was napping I also had some scrap bits laying around. That tends to be a good combination for a project to happen.

Well I built a small worm inn style drawstring bag which I affixed to the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket.

A few weeks ago equinoxequinox asked how I built my worm inn knock off. Well it is really just a drawstring bag with hanging loops. Someone put a lot of time into making and marketing the real one so I don't feel totally right in telling the public how I reverse engineered it from a few photos. But if you know how to sew and think some things through it is rather easy to do.

Anyway for this one I made a nylon tube which reduces a little to a drawstring closure. The other end of the tube I then sliced into 1" wide 4" long ribbons.

I then took a 5 gallon bucket and cut the bottom out (rotozip bit in a dremal worked really well for this) and drilled 5/16" holes 1" up from the bottom and spaced 1" on center all the way around the bottom of the bucket - this bucket was 33" in circumference at the bottom.

I slid the sliced nylon tube over the bucket end with the holes in it and passed each ribbon through a hole. Each of these ribbons was folded down and then sewn back to the nylon tube.

The top of the bucket is then sealed with a bonnet to trap fruit flies.

I filled it with the contents of a small bin I've had going plus several handfulls from my large bin hanging next to it.

Yes it is a little small but the improved FT air flow might counter act some of those problems.

It's an experiment. We'll see how it works.

Comments (7)

  • PeterK2

    Nice! You can call it the Frankencomposter.

    I've seen a few models with a similar idea, I don't think the Inn was even the first so it is a bit of everyone borrowing from everyone else. It's what's DIY to save money is all about. I do so much of that (CO2 and fertilizer) to make my aquarium upkeep cheaper.

    Can't tell from the pictures on those stitched corners, but as you probably already know it's going to get real heavy. Hope things hold out. Same goes for the bucket handle. It's just a wider piece of metal on a thick wire fitting inside a plastic hole. I've had one rip out at the worst time in the gardern.

  • PRO
    equinoxequinox

    Thank you! I see you are dealing with some of the same concepts I am. That is why I am interested in methods that deal with these issues.

    Yes some type of breathable, fruitfly stopping cover is necessary.

    Yes some type of suspension is necessary because a flow through needs to flow through and vermicompost not get stuck on legs or have to be mined out of a cave.

    Maybe the third area of interest is sometimes my flow through does not flow. Other times the entire thing flows right through. Thus I need a large collection container.

    Sometimes it won't move at all.
    Other times
    "When it rains, it pours."

    Structual strength is paramount.

    Tell me these are not attached to water pipes.

    I have one 4 gallon bucket with most all of the bottom out. The other has only an X of 1/2 inch plastic left. Both at various times prove to be too much or not enough support.

    I am not yet at the "one inch of vermicompost self falls from the bottom each week" stage. I almost think it is chasing an impossible dream. But I am having fun trying.

    Maybe if I fed blended food instead of 1/2 pumpkins and whole coffee trays in a micro size system.

  • mr_yan

    I choked the bottom opening down to a rather small cross sectional area. I don't remember exactly but I think it was somewhere around 4" in diameter. I'm new enough at this that I have never harvested anything and don't know how well VC will "flow". I'm thinking that even with the small area I will be able to coax it out with a few punches.

    I've read some people finding both small and FT systems dry out too fast and others have trouble with plastic bins getting too wet. Maybe the plastic bucket will help hold moisture in but the fabric on top and bottom will allow it to dry enough and provide enough air not to become anaerobic.

    I have the seams triple stitched. The material was a heavy cheap outdoor sport nylon and I used standard polyester thread. The hanging loops are each stitched down 4 inches into the body of the bag.

    These are hung with 5/16" diameter hook screws into 80+ year old solid wood 2x10 floor joists. Each hook was able to hold my wight as a test.

    I blended worm food a few times early on, washing the food processor afterward was not worth it (and my wife was not a big fan of the same food processor being used for compost slurry and baby-food). Right now I am trying the more lazy freeze and thaw method to soften the cell walls. But I am only feeding kitchen scraps to the bins and those tend to be smallish anyway. Maybe by garden season I'll have enough bins and worms to handle garden and yard waste.

  • PeterK2

    Well the worms in my Inn just blew through half a bucket worth of xmas scraps :), all gone now (all frozen and thaw preprocessing). Once you have the population they are like piranhas, can even hear them work.

    One good thing with the cloth systems, it's easier to add water than it is to try and soak up extra in bins. I find the sides touching the cloth get dry, but I just leave that. It creates a sort of loose barrier between the VC and the walls allowing it to breath. I just keep a top layer of cardboard (around one inch) damp. Keeps the new waste moist and hides the process.

    For harvesting, yeah depends on how big the hole at the bottom is. With the Worm Inn, under a full load the bottom actually becomes a bit flat so it doesn't funnel that well coming out. I would have liked a bit more of a V shape. You get lots of center stuff, but the sides at the bottom not so much. I've done some scraping with a garden fork to get stuff out, also left it open with a bucket underneath and let stuff drop naturally. Usually as it gets drier (but never dry) is starts dropping. Closed now to let it build back up as I was starting to pick up worms in my catch bucket. You can also 'milk' it a bit by squeezing the sides with the bottom open heh.

  • PRO
    equinoxequinox

    You go girl.

    The sounds you hear are

    Snap, crackle, pop � Rice Krispies!

    piranhas yes.

    "It creates a sort of loose barrier between the VC and the walls allowing it to breath." Yes.

    "You get lots of center stuff, but the sides at the bottom not so much." Yeah, thats the thing. How to get the sides to flow or are they busy nursing along the middle and being like teachers.

    'milk' Yes that seems to be the ticket.

    Plus in a plastic bucket the worms seem to put all the good stuff stuck to the side of the bucket.

  • mr_yan

    Quick update. This one is drying out fast. I just poured almost a quart of water over it. Some of this water is now running off into a bucket below and I'll dump it back over the bin.

    At least I don't have to worry about making little life jackets for the worms or the bin going anaerobic.

  • PRO
    equinoxequinox

    I think you are on the right path with a sturdy frame and the vermicompost after vermicomposting falling to once again mix and compost before harvest.

    "Quick update. This one is drying out fast. I just poured almost a quart of water over it. Some of this water is now running off into a bucket below and I'll dump it back over the bin. At least I don't have to worry about making little life jackets for the worms or the bin going anaerobic." Yup, yup, yup. I worry sometimes that the drainage is too acidic or too something. But then again I add water straight from the faucet which is probably killing every wee beastie it touches. I should be adding aquarium water. And yes I wait a bit and re pour the drainage. Sometimes, when I have no more fabric left for sewing their little life vests out of, I put egg carton shreds at the bottom of the second drip through. Other times I rescue swimmers back to the top of the bin, or if the water drys up, crispies with a plastic fork and try to rehydrate them.

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