Multi-Layer Vermiculture Bin





Introduction: Multi-Layer Vermiculture Bin

The following is a step-by-step process in building and maintaining your own worm compost system.

Step 1: Getting Started

Acquire all materials and create small workplace out of doors.
  Materials List:

Two plastic bins, one with lid.
(You should assess how much compost you will generate on a monthly basis to determine capacity. We’ve used 15 gallon Rubbermaid bins in anticipation of expanding our system.

One tray (to place under stacked bins as liquid catchment)
*Third bin or lid can be substituted for tray

Drill and 3/8” hole bit

Two food containers i.e:) yogurt or cottage cheese containers

Approximately one quart of dried leaves or mulch from yard

Few sheets of newspaper (no color ink)

Approximately one quart of soil

Couple dozen red wigglers (Eisenia foetida)

Step 2: Drilling Bottom Bin

With 3/8” drill bit, drill several holes in bottom of the first bin. This will act as drainage for the liquid that is naturally created by the worm’s work. This is the bin that will be placed upon the tray.

Step 3: Drilling Top/Second Bin

With 3/8 drill bit, repeat step two in the bottom of the remaining bin. These holes will serve as passageways for your worms to travel from the bottom bin (once the compost is satisfactorily decomposed) into the top to repeat the process.

Step 4: Drill a Few Air Holes

Drill 3/8” holes at very top of second bin on sides (not lid.) These holes will promote air circulation and prevent anaerobic conditions. Make sure that they are located on the top of the bins where the lid will prevent any water from getting in and making things too wet. If it is your intention to keep your bins inside, which is easily done, than you need not worry about the rain factor and can place your air holes wherever you like on the top bin.

Step 5: Set Up Containers for Support

In bottom of first bin set up a few kitchen containers to hold the weight of the upper bin.

Step 6: Tear Recycled Newspaper

Tear up a little recycled newspaper for bedding in the bottom of the bin (approximately 2”  deep not packed, or one open full sheet.)

Step 7: Spread Leaves As Second Layer

Spread a few handfuls of local leaf mulch on top of your newspaper. If you do not have access to either newspaper or leaves, one or the other will suffice.

Step 8: Spread Soil As Thrid Layer

On top of newspaper and mulch layer sprinkle a little soil. These three elements (newspaper, leaves, soil) will act as the bed for your new composting worms.

Step 9: Introduce Red Wigglers

Introduce your red wigglers to their new home and sprinkle a little more soil on top of the worms. The cumulative depth of all these layers should be less deep than the height of your kitchen containers supporting the upper bin. The distance between the topsoil layer and the top of your containers will be where you place your kitchen scraps.

Step 10: Assemble, and Voila!

Place second bin on top of the first bin that you’ve filled with mulch and worms. The holes you drilled in the topside of this bin should be above the top of the bin that it is sitting in.  Place lid on top bin, and bottom bin on tray.
To start, the top bin will remain empty and just serve as a lid for the bottom. However, once the bottom bin’s material has been broken down, you should begin placing your kitchen scraps directly in the bottom of the second, or upper bin. Then you will want to cover this layer with soil and or mulch again to prevent the attraction of bugs and the release of unpleasant odors.  The worms will naturally travel up through the holes you’ve drilled in the bottom of the bin toward the fresh food, leaving the first layer completed and worm free, ready to be used.



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    19 Discussions


    1 year ago

    How do the worms get up to the top bin?

    So then does the newly composted dirt fall down to the bottom layer? You've explained how it's used the first time but not how you'll use it from then on...

    is this for worms?

    This is a good project, but it needs more description of how it is used.  Could you please expand a bit upon what kinds of kitchen scraps are appropriate, how much should be added at one time, when the upper layer will be ready, etc.  There are no air holes in the bottom bin, so is it intended to be stacked into the top one once it's compost has been used?

    2 replies

    NEVER USE MEAT in your scraps - only vegetable scraps, coffee grounds (limit them they make acid) and egg shells (very good protein). Meat will rot and put off nasty smells, attract dogs, and other wild life, and it isn't healthy. Only naturally composting materials - vegetable scraps, leftovers (no meat), and paper (no ink unless it's biodegradable). No Plastics, No Meats, No processed foods, No Chemicals! Give your worms good food and they will produce like crazy!

    Worms are not picky eaters. They can brake down nearly everything from cardboard to melon rinds. The only waste i would not put in this bin is meat scraps or feces. These can contain pathogens that potentially could be carried through the process into your compost. As far as how much kitchen scraps your bin can process; it depends. It depends on variables such as how many worms you have, and what kind of kitchen scraps your putting in. My rule of thumb is not to put in anything or amount that will take longer than three days for my worms to decompose because that is how long it takes for fruit flies larvae to mature and hatch. Fruit flies and other unwanted pests will be attracted to sitting scraps and lay their eggs there if they believe it will be around in a few days to feed their larva. you do not want pests in yoour compost. If your system begins to smell like rot it's a red flag that the system is going anaerobic and you have an imbalance that needs to be dealt with.
    As far as the air hols on the bottom bin, good call. It is the intention of the design to rotate bins from top to bottom. so, yes. you should drill the same air holes in the bottom bin as well. smaller holes are alright because you dont want flies to have ultra easy access to your operations within.
    hope this helps :)

    My neighbors dog keeps knocking the lid off mine i've tried bricks and tie downs. I even put the dog back on the chain in their back yard, he eats my compost and I'm pretty sure he got his teeth around my worms to :( SO much for my compost/fishing worm farm guess i'll have to figure out a dog proof way to do this.

    1 reply

    If it is your 'neighbors' dog, tell the neighbor to keep the dog out of your yard or put up a fence! I keep my compost bins in an old dog crate - which keeps them OUT rather than IN. The cage kind works great. But you could also use pallets to build a 'fence' around your bins by attaching 3 of them together and putting a hinged one on one side, or attach four together to make a box, and put the hinges on the top piece. Pallets work really well for this type of thing, you can usually find them for free, so you can build whatever you want out of them. Good luck with the neighbor's dog!

    The juice from the bins is highly concentrated - use this juice by mixing 3 parts water to 1 part juice.

    My two year old and I made ours today!!  She is in love with the wormies now.  This was a great project, thanks!!

    Sorry, but I am a bit confused here.  You say use a 3/8 inch bit for this and the next step, but from the pictures, they don't seem to be the same size.  Any chance that either this one is smaller than 3/8 or the next is larger?

    3 replies

    Looking at the pictures a spade bit is being used so I think the smaller holes were made with smaller center spike and the full size holes are the entire width of the bit.  Just a guess though.

    The holes should all be 3/8 inch. You have a keen eye ;) we originally made smaller holes but they should all be uniform.

    So when the dirt in the first bin is ready to be used, do you then empty it and put it on top of the second bin?

    How much food waste is acceptable to be adding to the bin?

    1 reply

    When the bottom layer has been broken down adequately, you will begin to place fresh kitchen scraps in the bottom of the second bin (the one above, on top.) The worms will naturally migrate up from the finished compost into the top bin eliminating the common need to seperate worms from finished compost. It would also be a good idea to mix a little of the finished compost with the fresh scraps in the top layer while the worms migrate up. This will provide them with some material to live in other than the "hot" composting kitchen scraps. Hope this helps :)

    1 thing i would add is a Bottom 1 with a Tap they excrete liquid and you can collect this and use it while they break down the waste.

    1 reply

    the tray on the bottom is for collecting the liquid.  a tap, instead of the tray, would be better if you want to collect the liquid into a watering can or spray bottle.