Welcome to my new section #nicisgarden! Keep reading and coming back for tips, tricks, advice and sharing in a few disasters on the way to home grown produce from your very own kitchen garden. This is the first post in a series of three about the fabulous Hungry Bin.
It wasn’t that long ago that my phobia of animals, especially dogs, kept me from taking walks around my neighbourhood. Fast forward to 2014 where my Australian Terrier Lily means the world to me and I’m always offering to pet sit for anyone who is going on holidays. In fact, the circle of animals that I adore is growing wider every day; bats, pigs, penguins, and now… worms!
When my birthday rolled around earlier this month there was no question about what I wanted, 2 transportable, corrugated iron garden beds on wheels. Perfect for a family like us who are renting but also enthusiastic about growing our own produce. A friend of mine, Rebecca Lewis, President of the Lalor Park Community Garden in NSW, said that the perfect accompaniment to my garden beds would be a worm farm. She suggested I make one myself from polystyrene boxes, which admittedly would have been economical and ecofriendly, but this is me we’re talking about, I had to have the Rolls Royce of worm farms, the Hungry Bin.
I came to know about the Hungry Bin and its designer, New Zealander Ben Bell, as Adrian had met him at a party once and recalled the innovative design of the worm farm (didn’t you know that all Kiwi’s know each other!). I tracked down the Aussie stockist Wormlovers and perhaps it was cheeky of me, but I emailed the owner, Richard, to ask if he would be willing to sponsor a series of posts by providing me with a Hungry Bin to try. I was delighted when he came straight back to say that of course they would send me a bin, along with 2000 worms, and I could be their newest Adelaide based ambassador. I’ll be putting that on my résumé!
So, what’s so good about the Hungry Bin? The Wormlovers website says, ‘the Hungry Bin is a continuous flow system, which makes it far more efficient than worm farms that use stacked trays. The unique shape of the bin creates a large surface area, allowing the worms to easily access the food scraps at the top – they’re surface feeders after all – allowing them to process more waste, more quickly. The tapered sides encourages the worms to stay on the surface, while compressing their castings below.’ Looking at the shape of the bin it all starts to make sense. It’s really quite tall and the unique tapered form is not only functional but quite aesthetic as well. Worms stay in the top and the castings (or vermicompost) gradually gets compacted down and eventually will be ready to harvest from the bottom. The worm juice (I love calling it that) drips down into the tray and can be used as required.
Follow along to see how I set up my Hungry Bin.
The Hungry Bin arrived, along with the worms, via Australia post and was contained in one box which was handy for me as I wasn’t able to set up the bin right away. I wasn’t worried about the worms surviving the journey and then the two day wait to make it into their new home but I think Adrian gave a sigh of relief when we finally saw that they were indeed alive and well.
The Hungry Bin is around the same height as the rubbish and recycling bins and is on wheels for easy manoeuvrability. Keep in mind that once it’s full it is very heavy and you’ll need to take care with moving it about.
I confess that I left it to Adrian to set up, but he says it was really simple and only took him around 10 minutes to complete. The kit comes with full instructions and a hex key which is the only tool needed.
The base of the bin has a filter which prevents the castings from falling out but allows the worm juice to drain into the bottom tray. This juice can be collected and used as soon as there is enough to dilute – 1 part worm juice to 8 parts water, perfect for a 9L watering can.
Regular potting mix or compost goes into the bin as starter bedding for the worms. We only needed 3 of these 25L bags and the total cost for the 4 was under $10.
Logic tells me that the first few harvestings from the bottom of the bin is going to be mostly potting mix. Compost worms stay near the surface and break down food scraps (and other waste products) and turn it into compost, unlike earthworms which are general soil improvers. There’s no reason these worms will make it very far down into the potting mix.
Once the potting mix is pressed down a little and smoothed over we watered it lightly. The instructions say it should be as wet as a wrung out sponge. I’m not sure if we achieved that, but hopefully a light sprinkle was ok.
This kit came with 2000 worms which is recommended as a good start for the Hungry Bin. You can always add more to get it churning through more waste quicker but I’m already worried that we won’t have enough kitchen scraps to feed the little wrigglers so 2000 seems to be the best start for us.
Add in the worms (phew they’re alive). Ooh look at them, hard to believe they could chew through all your kitchen scraps, paper waste, vacuum cleaner dust, pet hair etc.
The Hungry Bin instructions and the Wormlovers guide are slightly contradictory when it comes to the next step. Hungry Bin says to add food scraps right away, but Wormlovers advises to let the worms settle in for a few days. I decided to ignore Adrian’s worried look and stick with Wormlovers on this one leaving the worms to get acquainted with their new home.
The Hungry Bin needs a shady spot, out of direct sunlight. Worms don’t like it fiercely hot or freezing cold and can perish in such conditions so a sheltered spot is best. In the next post I’ll be talking about how and what I feed the worms, how to deal with heat waves, and a general update on how the worms are going.
I’d love to answer any questions so please leave me a comment of pop on over to my Facebook page and let’s talk worms.
You can find more info on the Hungry Bin here:
Hungry Bin Website