by Rob Avis
For some time now I’ve been anxious to get a worm composting system for our kitchen scraps to turn our “waste” into a valuable resource – soil! Inspired by some pretty neat worm systems that I found on the web, I set out to design something that would work very well, yet could be built with scrap or easily available material.
Red Wiggler Worms are a special species of earthworm native to Europe that are adapted to living in decaying organic material. These thrive in rotting vegetation, compost and even manure.
In true permaculture fashion I started the design process with a Needs and Yields analysis:
Red Wiggler Needs:
Red Wiggler Yields:
I’ve heard that worms contained in a breathable material have better oxygen supply and therefore eat and multiply faster. A breathable material will also reduce the risk that the rotting food goes anaerobic (and stinky) before being digested.
Landscape fabric seemed a good fit to provide breathability, drainage, and a dark space. A few days after having the idea of using some form of landscape fabric, I was shopping for groceries with my reusable grocery bags and as I packed my groceries I noticed that the bag was black and woven – very similar to landscape fabric. The light bulb illuminated!
Here’s what I did:
|Back home I emptied the grocery bag, collected two 5 gallon buckets and a drill.|
|Next I drilled numerous 1/2 inch holes into the bottom of one of the buckets. This bucket becomes the Worm Frame.|
|The Worm Frame (with holes) is nested into the second bucket. The outer bucket is now the Worm Juice Harvester.|
|Here is the black grocery bag, being fitted inside the Worm Frame. The bag will hold the rotting food and worms.|
|In goes some straw, shredded paper and food scraps.|
|Lastly I drilled a large hole into the side of the bucket to let air flow access the bag from all around but keep light and flies out.|
Next I posted a request on our Facebook page to see if anyone had some spare worms and very soon thereafter I had a small cup of worms to place into the new home (Thanks Cathy!).
Now all I needed was a cool name – The Vermipod!
A month later our worms are living a happy, aerobic, dark, moist life and breeding very quickly. We are looking forward to starting our next pod.
Here it is, the Vermipod:
Based on the success of our little Vermipod I’ve got some ideas on how to design a system that could handle larger (i.e. commercial) food scrap streams. Let me know if you are interested — I’d be happy to share my design.
great idea/great job…..back here in Belgium -believe it or not – a similar design for home composting is sponsored by the government!! In some towns & cities,they even give them away for free…
isn’t that great?
But on the other hand our countrie should embrace pm-design(s) more, we have a serious problem with ‘over-urbanisation’….
Awesome work Mr. Avis.
Maybe even using 60lt plastic bins might even work.
I’ll give it a go. Thanks mate.
very cool rob.
keep up the good work
Nice design, Rob- and a great way to reuse those buckets. I’ve been design hunting online for some ideas for a while now- I may give yours a shot to start out- although I have a much bigger plan in mind, eventually. I’m thinking worm farm :)
Thanks for sharing,
Thanks for sharing. I like this simple design, I am going to try it out. I would also like to know more about your commercial sized system.
What a great way to get started with worm composting. Those 5 gallon buckets are easy to come by. Keep us posted on further “inventions”.
Thanks for all the comments folks. Due to all of the demand for information on the commercial systems, I will put together a blog on commercial worm farming made from elements destined for the landfill that will perform the same function as this miniature system. Stay tuned.
This is awesome! You could use the same design for a black soldier fly pod with the addition of a staircase for them to mature into flies.
This is fantastic! I am very excited to try this. I’ve been wanting to do worm composting for a while, so this is great inspiration. Thanks so much for sharing!
Thanks for the comments guys! You are right this could be used for black soldier flies. To my knowledge they don’t live in our climate, and I don’t know of anyone that has brought them up here.
I am going to make some modifications to the vermipod so watch out for version 2.0.
I do something similar in my garden. I dont have a reservoir at the bottom for collecting the juice – just let it flow into the surrounding garden. I have another bucket that I alternate on top of my 2 worm tubes, adding new material to that and the worms migrate up, leaving the clean worm castings to be harvested.
I’d love to know your thoughts on a larger scale worm farm! Please email me