Along with the hot composting piles that I am doing for the garden I will also be adding on Vermicomposting, or "Worm Composting" which uses specific species of worms which are Eisenia fetida, commonly referred to as "red worms", or "Red Wigglers" to compost food scraps and other organic materials.
One of the end results of the vermicompost system are worm castings which is just a politically correct way of saying worm poop. Worm castings are one of the best fertilizers that you can mix with your soil in your garden and house plants.
The other very beneficial end result of this composting process is worm leachate or "worm juice". Leachate is a brown liquid which comes from the moisture in the food scraps slowly filtering down through the worm castings collecting rich nutrients along the way. This is a very potent fertilizer that must be diluted 10:1 before feeding your plants with it. There are many different benefits to feeding the plants with this diluted leachate which we will go over in another posting later.
The Hungry Bin system which was designed in New Zealand arrived today so I will be getting that all set up and ready to go so that I can get the worms into their new home.
Here is how the Hungry Bin comes shipped to you. All packed nicely in one convenient box . . .
Here is an overview of the design. Several different prototype models were developed before they finally settled on the current system seen here.
Ok, So let's get it out of the box.
It comes shipped with all the parts nested together inside each to save space.
I first removed all of the parts along with the instructions. Going by the included instruction it took me about 5 minutes to put the whole thing together myself. I wish Ikea would make things this easy to assemble.
The one part that stumped me for a second was in step 6 where it mentions sliding the floor with the filter inserted over the lower part of the body. It is simply talking about this pan that connects to the bottom of the system with the grate inserted into it. This is the collection tray where you will harvest the worm castings from later on. The grating allow excess moisture to pass through to be collected below while holding the worm castings in place above it.
So, once it is all together it is time to start filling it up with 80 liters of compost. So let's move the Hungry Bin out t the drive way to make getting it set up easier.
I am using a local organic compost that is made with chicken manure at a local chicken farm and nursery here on Oahu.
I sift out any large pieces, sticks, rocks, bits of plastic, etc. with a garden soil sifter. We don't want anything like this plugging the system up later and causing problems.
Because I am hand sifting it all out it is a long slow process to get the Hungry Bin filled up.
I will continue filling it until we get at least ¾ of the way up the bin, so almost there . . .
Ok, the compost is in and the water has been added to moisten everything up and settle it down so the compression can start forming at the bottom of the bin.
The excess water is working its way through the compost and is draining out the bottom into the collection tray sitting under the bin just as it should.
Yes, it is not sitting exactly level right now, but that is ok, this is not the location where I will have it when everything is set up. It was just more convenient for me to add all of the compost and water here so I have a trashcan handy to throw the empty plastic bags in. I will move it to its permanent location tomorrow after it has had a chance to settle down just a bit and I recheck the pH level. If everything is still good tomorrow I will be adding the worms to the bin so they can get used to their new home. The wheels on the back of the Hungry Bin frame make moving it around a breeze.
When the system is up and running excess moisture from the system will drip down into this collection tray, that is what is called worm leachate, and is very potent liquid fertilizer that should be diluted before it is used to feed plants with. The liquid that is coming out of the bin right now is not as concentrated and can just be fed to the plants as it is.
When the bin is at its capacity, which will take a few months, the bin should be producing about a quart of worm leachate per day if everything is good. You will hear a lot of people say that a worm bin should never produce leachate and if it does it is too wet, while yes, that may be true on other worm systems, but it is not true on the Hungry Bin. This system is set up to be run completely different than other worm systems are run and if you try running it like other systems are run, you will have problems.
I see a lot of YouTube videos of people complaining about their Hungry Bin systems not working correctly, and when you watch them operate their systems you can clearly see that they are not following the instructions. They are not adding enough moisture to the bin because they think it shouldn't be dripping out any leachate, or they are "fluffing up" the castings so deep that they are completely going against the entire design of the system that needs to compress the castings as they get deeper for it to work properly.
Suffice it to say that you will not see any of that with my system. I know the difference between this system's design and how it operates versus a plastic tub system where fluffing of the castings is necessary and it may not be designed to produce the leachate. I will be operating the Hungry Bin system the way it was designed to be used.
Later I will also be doing postings on other types of worm bin systems and pointing out the differences in how they are operated. But this time we are going to concentrate on the Hungry Bin. Time to let it sit overnight and check it again in the morning to see if it is ready for the worms.
Until Next Time,
Aloha & 73