This entry is a followup to the previous one: More legwork set for… Vermicomposting!
Indeed, it has been a non-stop 9-hour fruitful day of exploring potential low-cost materials for indoor worm composting (also known as vermicomposting).
I chose to visit a popular furniture mall (Ikea at Alexandra) and some of the largest hypermarkets in Singapore – Carrefour at Suntec City and Plaza Singapura, Giant at Vivocity and IMM. I did check out a few random hardware DIY shops along the way, but I quite forgot their shop names and locations already. I didn’t find anything particularly useful in them though.
Anyway, most containers I found were of the right size as according to this site, but they were mostly white, transparent or semi-translucent, thereby allowing too much light to penetrate through. This is definitely a no-no for vermicomposting since compost worms hate light and could die under such stressful conditions, UNLESS you can ensure that your vermicompost bin stays in a dark and shady area at all times.
So far, the only containers that seemed more acceptable to me were the ones I found at Ikea:
This blue plastic container is durable and allows very limited light to pass through. The dimensions are quite acceptable for vermicomposting, although it is a little too deep for my liking. I prefer my container to be slightly shallower, so that the worms can have more oxygen from the top instead of being buried too deep at the bottom.
The white lid comes separately ($2). Some amount of light can pass through the lid because of its material, but since the container is deep, the worms would still be relatively located far enough from the light source. This would be further improved with added food scraps and bedding (e.g. moist shredded newspapers and cardboard) to be composted inside the container.
What I like about the lid is that it could be easily lifted off and has a hole in the middle. This hole could act like an air vent, allowing oxygen to enter and some ventilation to occur inside. A partially-translucent lid might just be a good way to keep worms from climbing up and out of the container too.
Now, do remember that holes still need to be drilled through the bottom of the container so that excess compost liquid (also known as ‘worm tea’) can flow out. Otherwise, your compost worms will drown! This liquid can be diluted with aged water (e.g. rainwater) and fed to your plants by pouring in the soil or spraying onto the leaves.
Question: If you were to use this container/system, where will the compost liquid flow out to? You asked well. Remember that two containers can be partially stacked upon one another as seen in this video; this allows the bottom container to collect the liquid conveniently.
The wonderful thing about the Trofast container is that they can already be partially stacked on top of one another like this:
With these grooves, they create a air gap between the two containers at the bottom, allowing some space for some liquid to be collected as it flows through the drilled holes of the top container. However, cleaning might be a chore as you will need to pour out the liquid from the bottom container occasionally. The inside surfaces of the bottom container will be “stained” as a result, and you might want to wash it out before replacing the top container – this is to try to control any odour or mess that might occur. Note that more commercial vermicompost bins have taps installed at the bottom to facilitate this process.
Next, I found similar Trofast containers that use the same white lid ($2) that is also sold separately. Like the blue Trofast container, they are stackable. The only difference is that they are 13cm shorter:
Personally, I prefer the shorter Trofast containers because it allows for better oxygenation from the top hole vent in the lid. Note: It would be good to drill more holes at the groove area to improve oxygenation and aeration. But if you use the shorter Trofast containers, the semi-translucent white lid might post a problem as worms do not like too much light. So I guess the taller Trofast container might be a better option.
Putting it all together, a vermicomposting set could function reasonably well with 2 Trofast containers and 1 lid. Assuming we use the taller Trofast containers, this would amount to a total of $7 + $7 + $2 = $16 only! The last thing you might have to spend on would be vermicomposting worms.
Currently, I am sourcing around for any friends, family members or relatives who might own or know anyone who owns such worms. Important note: only vermicomposting worms (e.g. red worms) should be used! Earthworms, maggots etc will either just die or escape. They are not suited for composting conditions. For more information, you could check out my current favourite vermicomposting site here.
Sadly, I couldn’t find the Rubbermaid Roughneck Tote and the Sterilite anywhere in Ikea or the hypermarkets – these are recommended by an experienced vermicomposter from Red Worm Composting. I was curious about the blue and red GLES storage boxes from Ikea too – they were large enough and only cost $1.80 each! – but they were out of stock and an assistant there said they would restock only in about 2 to 3 months time.
So that’s all for now! I hope this helps to give you some basic ideas and costing about setting up your own vermicomposting bin at home. For more information, you could refer to my previous entry to see how we intend to start out.
For now, Joe and I are not going to make any purchases for vermicomposting yet as we would still like to explore other options – it’s all about going out there and seeing what’s available on the market. And the good news is that we are willing to do it for you 😉
I plan to carry out more legwork tomorrow at some places I have in mind: Beauty World Plaza/Centre and Bukit Timah Shopping Centre. I live quite nearby, and I think they might hold some useful composting materials – most of the shops there are old and they are never crowded. I feel it’s gonna be some good ol’ pleasant and easygoing exploring tomorrow 🙂
Look out for my next entry where I will be sharing a list of other items which I happened to find interesting and useful during today’s legwork adventure.