Vermicomposting ignorance; building a stack from conical buckets

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FBeyer
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Vermicomposting ignorance; building a stack from conical buckets

Post by FBeyer » Fri May 05, 2017 2:33 pm

The local recycling station gave away red wigglers last weekend so I've been trying to figure out how to make the best of it.

I'm looking at vermicomposting and regular-pile-composting to add to what will soon become a square meter garden.
Worms can't eat all the grass leaves, branch clippings and crud from our household so we'll probably feed the worms as much as possible and toss the rest on the compost pile. I've been told that the two kinds of composting supplement each other very well, so until I hear otherwise that's probably what we're gonna do.

In regards to vermicomposting: There are a lot of checklists and not very many experts on the internet, which I find kind of frustrating. I don't do checklists very well.

The setup I'm most inclined towards is a propped-up drain bucket with a cheap spigot at the bottom of the stack, then the worm-and-bedding-and-food-scraps bucket in the middle, and new food stuffs in the top bucket. Then I'll make a lid from plywood if I can't find some cheap 20L buckets that come with lids. It seems like it's very easy to harvest castings if you do the three-bucket system and you can always add more buckets in case your worm population is thriving or you need to dispose more waste.

It seems like 20L buckets are the way to go in regards to volume and I can get three or five of those very cheaply.
But stacking is an issue with the kinds of buckets I have access to!
How deep will the worms burrow and how tightly can I stack the bucket? Can I place a new bucket with fresh scraps directly on top of the bedding in the middle bucket without crushing the entire system or do I need to fancy some sort of system that keeps the topmost bucket from resting directly on the scraps and bedding from the middle bucket?

Since buckets are conical and not cylindrical there will be a gap between the buckets when one rests on top of another one that isn't completely empty. If I do simply stack the buckets, do I need some sort of seal between the middle bucket and the top bucket so the middle bucket is totally in the dark or is it fine if there is a rim of light at the edges?

Fo' real dudes it looks like non-European buckets are made to be stacked ineffeciently with space to spare on the bottom, just like these: http://cdn2.playdoughtoplato.com/wp-con ... C_4012.jpg and European buckets are made to preserve as much space as possible like these: http://www.harald-nyborg.dk/images/800/23006.jpg which will leave only a few millimeters of space on the bottom when stacked.

I feel like I'm taking crazy pills.

So: to sum up.
1) Is a homemade plywood lid just fine?
2) How much space can there be between bucket sides when the middle one is packed with bedding and worms (and the bottom one probably has tea in it so that one will need some sort of spacing too.

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Re: Vermicomposting ignorance; building a stack from conical buckets

Post by jacob » Fri May 05, 2017 3:15 pm

1) A homemade plywood lid is fine as long as it's 0.75in thick and laser cut from handcrafted Baltic birch and sold as being artisanal by desperate engineering grads originating from some new-fangled degree program that adds random courses from anthropology, business management, art history, gender studies, the Friday Bar, and other hard-to-get-into/gotta-know-someone-or-be-rich-to-consider-this areas.

2) My HP48SX says either 300 attoparsecs cubed (using the generalized tensor contraction of the trivial crossproduct standard to account for any hyperspace worms) or 5.00001 linear centimeters along the shortest dimension (respecting space-curvature of course, but how would anyone tell anyway ... it's just a theory), whichever is shorter or longer (see EU directive 252-56b.1). As long your worms aren't fed any quiche or tea, ever, you're fine. Real worms drink coffee, eat dandelions, and shit banana peels(*). That's the most important fact!(**)

(*) Got that from wiki.
(**) And got that from a meme.

In short, you're way overthinking this. Put them/everything in a bucket and check back much later. You'll know you have a problem if your worms are trying to escape. If not, they're very likely just fine, even if they secretly love/hate you for making them work for food. Also consider putting a suggestion box into your bin or bucket for the worms to file complaints. You can just ignore it. It's the thought that counts, just like normal business management. Just don't do what Sclass did dumping onion or citrus peels on them. That's like bombing them with OC gas.

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Re: Vermicomposting ignorance; building a stack from conical buckets

Post by DSKla » Fri May 05, 2017 4:32 pm

I kept a lively worm bin for a while at my old place. It was a five gallon bucket. I drilled holes in the bottom to drain excess moisture, and for them to wriggle out of conditions got unpleasant. They only ever wriggled out if I over-moistened the pile, and I just picked them up and put them back in (the bottom of the bucket was an inch or so off the ground and only the perimter lip touched).

The lid was a paper grocery bag with small holes for ventilation, not big enough for flies to squeeze through.

This setup worked great, and the only input was food and paper. I used a spray bottle to moisten anything I put in.

I opted not to harvest much. I planned maybe once a year to move the worms out and take the vericompost, but I ended up moving apartments to one without an outdoor space, so I just released the worms and all the vericompost into the old apartment building's beds before I moved.

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FBeyer
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Re: Vermicomposting ignorance; building a stack from conical buckets

Post by FBeyer » Sat May 06, 2017 12:51 am

jacob wrote:
Fri May 05, 2017 3:15 pm
...
In short, you're way overthinking this... Just don't do what Sclass did dumping onion or citrus peels on them. That's like bombing them with OC gas.
:oops:
Dealing with plants and animals is -shame on me- an entirely new thing to me and I'm finding the litterature on gardening rather complex and very vague too (I'm guessing because real gardeners are learning by doing not learning by reading).

Unfortunately I'm not entirely equipped to deal with any kind of marginally complex information at the moment (observe how I am unable to put together a stack of buckets for worms and shit) so thank you for the response.

I do appreciate the humor though.

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Re: Vermicomposting ignorance; building a stack from conical buckets

Post by jacob » Sat May 06, 2017 8:28 am

In my indoor system, I only have one big rubbermaid container. A smaller system would have a single bucket. No holes were drilled. I put used toilet rolls in the bottom (~two diameters tall) under everything to keep the compost out of any liquid that might form. Then just dumped everything (worms, food scraps, wet newspaper, torn cardboard) on top of the rolls. The lid is the top of a pizza box, roughly cut out.

If you must build something fancy out of buckets, do this: https://www.thespruce.com/inexpensive-w ... ts-2540077 .. if you're hoping for migration from the bottom bucket to the top, the holes have to be around the size listed.

In the beginning I thought worm composting was hard science as well. It really isn't. Just don't feed them the wrong things. And it's better to underfeed than overfeed.

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FBeyer
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Re: Vermicomposting ignorance; building a stack from conical buckets

Post by FBeyer » Sat May 06, 2017 11:29 am

Thanks dudeski. I now own a complete three stack of worm buckets complete with spigot and laser cut plywood lid.[1]

Turns out there was a fire sale on 20L buckets at the local hardware store today. 1.4$ for a 5 gallon bucket. Yay! 7,88$ for a composting setup. I don't think I can manage anything cheaper than that.

Drilling holes in a brand new bucket is suprisingly fun. 'neighbous must think I'm absolutely nuts by now...

[1] If shaky cut-a-circle-by-eye-with-a-jigsaw counts as laser that is.[2]
[2] I know it doesn't. It doesn't involve a population inversion so of course it's not a laser... duh!

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