Types of Vermicomposting Systems

3 Types: (1) Non-Continuous; (2) Continuous, Vertical Flow; and (3) Continuous, Horizontal Flow

Systems are categorized by the method in which the worms move to a new food source – vertically or horizontal.  If the bin is non-continuous, the worms will not be able to move to another ‘layer.’  This is okay except you will need to monitor their castings production more closely, and be ready to harvest compost.  The simple Rubbermaid bin system is an example of non-continuous vermi-composting system.  One container – no movement to another.  However, if you drill holes into another bin (of the same size), and add it to the top of your in-progress bin, wala! you just created a continuous, vertical migration system.

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non-continuous system

A continous, vertical migration vermicomposting system will allow for the worms to migrate vertically to a new food source as in the Wormtopia and Can O Worms systems as seen below.

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Continuous, horizontal migration vermi-composting systems are usually outdoors and unrestrictive as in the windrow system below.  Kitchen scraps and office paper are added to the windrow system continuously, the worms migrate along the food corridor.  When the windrow is completely full, go back to beginning and harvest the castings (and start over).

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Windrows – continuous, horizonal flow-through system, Harmony Farms, Kauai

Other vermi-composting systems can be created, your imagination is the limit.  This example stacks functions – chicken roost over the vermi-composting system of shredded office paper and old plastic crates (to keep chx out!).  Every 30 days, the finished compost can be shoveled out and used immediatly, no nitrogenous burning of your plants to worry about.

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Stacking Functions, Harmony Farms, Kauai

I’m currently utilizing a deep-litter chicken bedding system in Colorado.  I’m not sure how well they will convert during the winter but I have a good healthy layer of worms, bedding (straw, leaves, coffee chaff), and chicken manure started.  In the spring, it will be dug out and replaced with new layers of carbon.

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“The maintenance of the fertility of the soil is the first condition of any permanent system of agriculture.” – Sir Albert Howard (1873-1947).  Wise words from the man who is credited with starting the organic farming and gardening revolution.