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:

Trofast ($7) – 42cm X 30cm X 36cm

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.

Top view of the lid ($2)

To remove the lid, simply insert your finger and lift
Inside view

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:

2 blue Trofast containers stacked on top of one another

Notice how this partial stacking is possible because of the GROOVES in the container design

A different view

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.

Information on the blue Trofast container and the white lid can actually be found on the Ikea website here and here.

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:

Trofast ($5) - 42cm X 30cm X 23cm - pink version

Trofast ($5) - 42cm X 30cm X 23cm - red version

They are stackable too

The 13cm height difference between the $5 Trofast and the $7 Trofast

Information on the red and pink Trofast containers can also be found on the Ikea website here and here.

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.

Have a blessed week ahead and don’t be shy in leaving any comment!

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16 responses »

  1. David says:

    Hi,
    Good try. From my past research on Vermicompost in Australia, there are more to it than what you had mentioned. Remember, all current small scale vermicompost or worm farm systems in the market have to be managed and care for to ensure effectiveness. The concept of “worm tea” is one that I don’t agree. Sorry about this.
    The above would be suitable if it is a DIY but not one that you would sell as a product.
    To have the product sold, you would need to provide customer support on its usage. So, you would have to think like a customer.
    1.How would a housewife or maid use it? Remember, they may not be the one who bought it.
    2.Can any household members use it?
    3.What happen if the system is overloaded?
    and many more. Don’t feel discourage but work on it to improve the product. Hope you succeed.

    • Joseph Solomon says:

      Hi David!

      Thanks for your comments and we certainly agree that there’s more to Vermicompost! Do bear in mind though that we carry no product nor endorse any either. Currently we don’t see how vermicomposting can become prevalent within homes in Asia, but I guess that’s just the current state of our research. So indeed if we ever were to produce a product, it would have to be well thought out and prepared with necessary customer support.

      Good pointers throughout, and we certainly will reflect these sentiments to anyone making household vermicomposting products.

      • David says:

        Hi Joseph,
        Vermicomposting is a good way of managing kitchen waste and would work much better than composting, which requires a minimum size to be effective. Our company is currently developing a vermicomposting product line for HDB and Asia households, but not composting. In our research, composting is not natural and should be avoided if possible.

        However any environmental friendly households who do not wish to use vermicomposting can mulch their plants with kitchen veggies. This will prevent such waste from being incinerated in Singapore and it is simple to do. Mulching provides nutrients to the soil and save on chemical fertilizer. It also save water and watering frequency as it retains water better and reduces evaporation.

      • Joseph Solomon says:

        David,

        Interesting that you mentioned, but increasingly we’re receiving reports that composting is somewhat pollutive as well. We had not concluded the research and hence did not release any comments about the issue. Since you mentioned it, I would say it certainly shows your expertise in the matter and I’m definitely looking forward to discussing more.

        Above all I’m extremely interested to find out more about a product line for HDB and Asia! It’s always been a dream of ours to provide residential solutions for every home.

        Lastly I think it’s absolutely brilliant to be using household waste as mulch instead of composting. You’re certainly on to something, and here at Kainosis we tip our hats to your work.

  2. Carl says:

    Guys,

    I bought 2 TOYO boxes identical ones (BIG BIG BIG) and just placed a brink in the bottom of one so that we created a space for the liquid to drain out of the many many many holes i created.

    I live in the West of SG too (Dairy Farm nr Railmall) and you are welcome to see how i do my vemicomposting.

    I can even pass you some of my earthworms la….. and give you tips to make the wrigglers work. (hint:Corn starch is like Steroids for earthworms!!!!)

    Drop me a mail if you wanna see it.

    BTW i also help schools with composting projects and am working with some now on composting and aqua culture.

    Bye….

    Carl

    Once you vemicompost

  3. Vanessa Serene says:

    Hi, just wondering where u got the redworms? I’ve been doing vermicompost for over 2 years but neglected it for a while, now my worms are diminishing. Thought it will be good to refill it.

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