Hello again! I can’t really explain how much my mind has been racing since attending the vermiculture conference at NCSU a few weeks back. Seeing all of the folks from around the world doing great things with worms has inspired us to keep our own worm operation moving forward too, and we have a bunch of new and exciting projects coming up here soon at WormaCulture.
One of the primary issues that we've faced as a company is although we love where we work at, we realize that it's not going to be our forever place. Knowing that we will someday have to relocate our operation has made us design it with multiple smaller pieces versus constructing larger and more permanent flow through bins or windrows. Such is life as we’re still having fun!
I guess you could call our current dilemma "a good problem to have" and believe us we're not complaining! Our space limitations have meant that we just have to be a little more creative when planning out our projects and additions, which leads us into our next project which we're calling "A CFT For Nearly Free".
When planning out the project, we wanted to hit on five key targets which I've outlined below:
1) To fit within our current space limitations but also be scaleable.
2) Generate significantly more volume than any single unit that we currently have.
3) Be functional yet cost effective (under $100 - $200 or so).
4) Preferably be of repurposed items using as little wood as possible (moisture concerns).
5) Be easily moved down the road when filled to capacity.
Easily done right? All that we'll say for now is that we really love a challenge ...
In addition to the above, we also wanted to compare it to what we already had in terms of cost and volume. Our current setup consists of two Hungry Bins (@ $300 each), twelve Worm Inn Megas (@ $140 each) and coming soon eighteen Urban Worm Bags (@ $110 each).
Not included into the volume are our breeder bins (100) and Worm Factory 360, although we will be using our own worms to inoculate the new bins once we get finished with the build.
All of the bins mentioned above are CFT variations with similar volumes (4.5 cubic feet or less) with each design having its own strengths and weaknesses. Although our new build will hold nearly 30 cubic feet of material (nearly six times that of our Hungry Bin at one third the cost!), it's not about replacing our existing units.
Our end goal with this project is a few things. One is to find new ways to supplement our current operation while finding ways to scale it once we have a proper location. Also looking to keep costs in check while showing our followers that volume vermicomposting can be done very reasonably if only with a little ingenuity and some elbow grease.
Well enough talk and let's get started with this project. Hope you enjoy!
When looking for materials for our project, we came across some repurposed 275 gallon water storage tanks for sale on Craigslist. They were basically a four foot cube in shape and came enclosed in a galvanized steel cage and pallet, complete with a flush valve and large opening and cap on top.
Although their $80 price tag (plus $25 for delivery) was more than we initially wanted to spend, we happily paid up as we wanted to get our project going. Another reason was that the company who we bought them from is a local business and they’re interested in purchasing back our castings, so it seemed like a win-win situation for us.
Searching around and having a little more patience than we did (and having a pickup truck or trailer) will most likely net you one for under $50, so we'll adjust the final numbers towards the end to reflect these savings.
After taking delivery of the bins, we began our project by first unscrewing the cross members on the top of the cage to get access to the tub. We then raised the tub to a level where we could use the top of the cage as a guide to mark our line and cut the top, which we did with the help of a jig saw.
After removing the top from the tub, we took all of the pieces outside and gave them a thorough scrub down. Being that the entire setup weighs less than a hundred pounds, it was super easy for my wife and I to move everything back and forth as we worked.
We then put everything back together, marked the access window on the bottom of the tub and cut it out. For easier access to the harvest area, we also removed two sections of the cage. Before we're done we may actually remove a few more sections and possibly add a breaker bar, but we'll see as the project evolves over the next few days.
After removing all of the remaining plastic burs and another complete scrub down, we put everything back together and this time fitted the top back onto the tub. The cages cross members have a pre-made channel system that's actually a pretty good hinge system too, so we may be able to use the existing hardware to make a lid for our unit and cut down on some of the money that we would have spent in making one.
Well, that was it for today! Up next we'll be securing the tub to the cage, fitting the lid and start building the interior platform that will support all of its contents. Thanks for dropping by and we’ll have part two coming real soon. Cheers!
TOTAL COST = $105 (or less than $50) if you have patience and a truck!