Six years ago, a friend asked if I would like her worm composter. She had purchased it and decided not to use it. It was of course a plastic model. Soon after receiving, I began noticing discarded plastic worm composters everywhere! I soon discovered their problem: They smell if not used properly. The collection tray with spigot is a fine idea, but the clogged spigot and stagnate “tea” in reality is pretty nasty. Since plastic holds moisture in and keeps air out… the problem is exacerbated. I knew I could do better!
Six years ago I invented a better way to compost with worms. My wood design utilizes stacking bins with screen on the bottom of each allowing for an upward migration of worms through each bin. Unlike other wood models, there is no designated bottom unit so every bin can be rotated.
Air flow is the single most important aspect of indoor worm composting. Air flow accelerates the breakdown of food scraps. Aerobic decomposition does not generate odors…anaerobic decomposition is what smells. By moving around in the bins, the worms work oxygen into each bin further speeding up the process. My wood bins have air flowing through them and the wood itself breathes.
I am often asked how long my worm bins last. I am still using my original prototype which is 6 years old. Since everything is standardized, you can always replace components if needed. Plastic bins do last forever, but I’m certain that isn’t a benefit. When asked why I use beetle kill pine instead of cedar, I have two answers. First, beetle kill pine is a local source of already dead trees (the wood happens to look awesome) so I am using a responsible source. Also ask yourself this: why doesn’t cedar and redwood rot? The answer is it contains poisonous chemicals in the wood that are antimicrobial and also kill insects. Those chemicals will leech into your bins and might kill the worms and definitely will be in the soil.
There is one down side to using a wooden worm composter (there always is a tradeoff). Because of the airflow, contents in wood bins tend to dry out and need moisture added occasionally. This is especially true when beginning. Worms need to live in a moist environment. The solution is simple: regularly check you bin and sprinkle water on the bin as needed.