~ The Suburban Worm Farmer ~

“Elite” Worm Mix Bin Walk-Throughs

I decided to create this page so as to share some actual Worm Mix bin set-ups, and show everyone just how easy it can be to set up these systems. There is a LOT of flexibility in terms of the materials used and how they are added, as long as you stick with the key principles of the concept. You will want your bins to contain mostly bedding + living materials – and I strongly encourage the use of paper-based bedding materials like corrugated cardboard, brown paper, newsprint etc. Typical food materials should be added in moderation – spread out rather than concentrated all in one spot. Layering is very helpful. Regarding dry feeds such as worm chow, poultry feed etc – these are fantastic BUT should be used like a supplement, not a primary food material (since can foul easily, and also attract lots of flies). Nice aged/bedded manures (eg horse manure) can be added basically however you like (even just filling the bin with this stuff + some worms could leave you with a nice culture) BUT the material should be tested ahead of time so you know for sure it is worm friendly. If you have some fresher material, simply put it up at the top where air flow is best (and be sure to check out the manure guide and e-mail about different stages of manure breakdown in the archive) if you want to learn more.

If you are new to all this, adding 100-200 adult worms and leaving bins to sit for AT LEAST 6 weeks (I now recommend more like 8-10) is a good approach – but over time you will develop more of a feel for things and can actually stock with worm-rich material. Remember, TIME is your friend – whatever approach you choose, more time means further population development (up to a point, of course). To ramp things up a bit more, rather than leaving completely alone, continuing feeding (maybe weekly) for half your production cycle. This should boost productivity even more.

IMPORTANT: It is assumed you already have a basic understanding of the Worm Mix concept (and “Elite” Bins) by the time you watch these walk-throughs. These should not be your introduction to the topic (if brand new, simply go to “SWF Course Home page” where you can find good background info)

Feb 19, 2020 – This video provides a very basic (photo slideshow) walk-through of how I set up a set up indoor Worm Mix production bins in Feb 2020.
1) Manure is NOT mandatory for these bins (but it’s fantastic if you do happen to have some)
2) Lots of paper-based bedding (eg cardboard, newsprint etc) and at least some living material should make up most of the habitat.
3) If using a dry feed – add it sparingly (light sprinkling)
4) Layering is very helpful
5) If you are new to this, start with a specific number of breeders (eg 100-200) or weight (eg 1/8 lb). With more experience – or if you know this is going to go more than 2 months, simply adding worm-rich starter material will save time – and provides you with more living material as well.

At the time of setting up these bins I had LOTS of great material from my Walking Windrow bed (along with a nice grass/leaves mulch from previous fall), but nothing you could actually call “manure”.

Be sure to check out the other walk-throughs as well since they also provide a look at how you can easily make do without manures.

Oct. 27, 2020 – This is another set up Worm Mix production bins I set up (fall, 2020 in this case). I want to emphasize the flexibility in terms of materials that get added AS LONG AS you are sticking to the principles. You still want to make sure you are adding lots of bulky bedding materials and living materials, ideally some other natural materials if you have them (old leaves, wood chips). It is hard to “mess up” with this approach, especially if leaving everything to sit for 2-3 months (or even more).

NOTE: You could potentially “soup up” this approach by adding a few more food/bedding deposits during the first half of the production cycle, but I strongly recommend NO foods during the second half just to make sure everything gets balanced out by the time you are ready to sell/use the mix.

Nov. 11, 2020 – I refer to this one as my “last”, simply because these first 3 were recorded on the same day.  There is a decent chance I will continue to add more set up videos below. As touched on in the video, I am almost positive this set is actually the same bunch I wrote about in my “Set-It-And-Forget-It-Vermicomposting” post (RWC blog). At one point I refer to nice looking living material as likely coming from my Walking Windrow bed – not sure why I said that. While a LOT of the material that ended up in my own 2020 backyard beds did originate from my Walking Windrow bed, all the stuff added to these fall 2020 Worm Mix bins came from my backyard systems. Re: the last layer in these types of bins – very often it will be a paper-based bedding – in this case it was the mulched leaves & clippings, which was simply a really nice material so I was happy with it. As mentioned, another example of when I won’t add a bedding is if I have a fairly rich manure – something I want to keep up close to the top where the air flow is better (and worms would be added further down – they can come up to feed on it whenever it is “ready”). These bins started in my basement – I ended up adding some pumpkin to all the bins and then moved them up to a warmer location.

“Nothing is concrete, other than the underlying principles”  – yep, I know I sound like a broken record at times, but this is an important point to hammer home!

IMPORTANT NOTE: At one point I mentioned finding a bit of leftover fertilizer in my shed and using that as a supplement for these bins. In case it wasn’t clear, this is a natural ferilizer NOT inorganic fertilizer. Don’t ever add regular fertilizers to a worm system – and really, the only reason I added this at all was just that I had a small bit left over in the bag and I figured it might add a small boost to the bins. Also note I don’t recommend using bagged manures bought at stores – this almost always has elevated salt levels and just generally is nothing like a real manure (apart from more salt, it will have been almost certainly been totally sterilized as well).