32 Grenville Street M4Y 1A3
A Lined Tower
For the past twenty years I've been thinking about Vermicomposting for the Cold-Climate Apartment Dweller; that's me.
And I'm lazy, so I've been designing towers that involve less and less work with higher throughput and greater productivity.
This is my latest effort:
I started with a cast-off vegetable drawer from a cast-off refrigerator; check any recycle room or kerb-side in Toronto.
You can use any suitable container; I like plastic because it won't allow moisture to seep, which means I can locate the tower on carpet, in a closet etc. without worrying about what it might do to the floor surface.
The container will hold castings, a very few worms, and a little undigested material; in essence the container will hold the castings from the vermicomposting process.
I located two shelf units from another back alley; the shelves are made of sturdy steel wires, coated in white plastic.
Again, you don't have to use plastic-coated shelving; it was handy, that's all.
The wire shelving will retain digestible material and prevent it from falling into the plastic container until digestion has reduced the material to casting-size.
You'll note that I plan to use TWO shelving sections. Read on, dear reader, read on!
I grabbed a tall carton from No-Frills; I think this carton held paper towels or toilet rolls.
This carton provides what structural strength we need for the tower.
The carton is about twelve inches square, perhaps two feet high. If I need a larger volume (which means a longer period for digestion) I'll obtain a larger carton, either taller, larger footprint, or both.
I reclaimed a black plastic garbage bag to serve as a liner for the tower.
No, it doesn't need to be black, but it does need to be a bit strong, because chicken bones etc will be travelling down its side on occasion.
I cut the bottom from the bag, yielding a tube of black plastic. See below for the general idea of assembling the liner.
I have placed one shelf atop the other. The two shelves will support a mass of material while it is being digested by the worms.
In the first photo the rails appear to be on top of each other. In fact I staggered the second shelf to present a narrower gap between rails.
The theory is that I can widen (or narrow) the gap as I see fit once the tower is producing, but I doubt I'll need to do that.
Here is an alternative grid arrangement with the shelves at right angles, producing rectangular gaps.
Odds are that with this arrangement I would trip over one of the two shelves and possibly bring down the tower.
(With the shelves congruent, I can be SURE of bringing the tower crashing down if I trip over it!).
I did this for aesthetics for the photo-essay: The bottom of the liner, or skirt, has been tucked inside a flap of the carton and stapled in place; that's the staple circled in orange.
With just one staple on each side I am in a position to tighten the liner by pulling it from above.
Here I have pulled the liner up so that it gives me four straight-through sides to the tower.
If I was going to be absent for a few weeks, I could fold the top flaps over the tower to retain moisture.
Here the tower is assembled and ready to be charged.
I had an existing bag of material, worms and all.
I scooped it in (I'm to cheap to buy rubber gloves; I use a thin plastic vegetable bag over each hand).
And yes, I need to do a bit of floor-tidying!
If you were starting from scratch, I'd recommend a few sheets of newspaper, whole - not shredded, laid down inside the tower at the base, then vegetable matter dropped on that, layered with shredded paper.
As wet material is added, cover it with a layer of shredded paper. Excess moisture will drop into the plastic drawer. Excess heat will escape from the top of the tower.
No need to shuffle trays or roll barrels. Gravity does the work.
I toss scraps in at the top and shovel castings out from the bottom.
Here are the tray contents a few minutes after charging the tower; Some wet castings dropped right through.
As time goes by, worms and castings will accumulate. In the base, but not enough worms to cause me sleepless nights.
Toronto, Saturday, January 09, 2016 10:24 AM
Copyright © 1996-2016 Chris Greaves. All Rights Reserved.