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.