Vermicomposting and Vermiculture: Worms, Bins and How To Get Started

Three categories of vermicomposting bins

  • Non-continuous bins are undivided containers that start with a layer of bedding materials -- shredded paper and the like -- that line the bottom. Worms are added and organic matter for composting is added in a layer above the bedding. Another layer is added on top of the organic matter and the worms will start to compost the organic matter and bedding. This type of bin popular because it is small and easy to build, but unfortunately they're more difficult to harvest because all the materials and worms must be emptied out when harvesting.

  • Continuous vertical flow bins use a series of trays stacked on top of one another. The tray on the bottom, using something like chicken wire as the base, is filled first in the manner described above (bedding, worms, organic waste), but is not harvested when it is full. Instead, a thick layer of bedding is added on top and the tray above is used for adding organic material. When the worms finish composting the bottom tray, they head for more food and migrate to the tray above. When enough of the worms have migrated, the bottom tray can be collected with just a few straggling worms left behind (they can then go in the tray above). Because of the separate tray, these bins provide are easier to harvest.

  • Continuous horizontal flow bins use a similar structure to the vertical flow, but line up the trays horizontally instead.The bin is usually horizontally longer than the vertical version is tall, and is divided in half, usually by a large gauge screen of chicken wire. One half is used until it becomes full, then the other half is filled with bedding and organic matter (pictured below). Over time, the worms migrate to the side with the food and the compost can be collected. These bins are larger than a non-continuous system but still small enough to be used indoors, with the added bonus of being easier to harvest.

Ready to get started vermicomposting? Get some ideas for getting started and general vermicompost tips before you take the plunge.

Tags: Fertilizer | Green Basics

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