Large scale worm composting

Discussion in 'Organics' started by Mazer, Apr 3, 2018.


    Mazer Well-Known Member

    Dear Gentlefolks,

    I am really thinking of starting a large worm composting operation. It is just mind bugling why so very little people are doing it.

    Anyone with experience on large(ish) scale operation would like to share there ideas?

    Wigglingly yours,
    GreenHighlander likes this.

    farmerfischer Well-Known Member

    I do a largish worm bin.. it's made from a 250-300 gallon spa whirl pool tub.. ( outdoors) I use it to recycle my old soil mixes and house hold veggie waste.. i also use a small bin made from five gallon buckets for in house use during the winter.. 1522790502984..jpg
    Once this blizzard passes I'll post up pics of the spa tub worm bin.. i read some where that one pound of red worms can produce 10-20 pounds of worm dirt in 30 days.. this will be my first full year using my worm bins.. the worm dirt in the spa tub I'll be using in holes for my cannabis and raised veggie/flower beds..
    docter, newgrow16, ShLUbY and 2 others like this.

    Mazer Well-Known Member

    Dear farmerfischer,
    So far you sport the largest operation of all the posts. Congratulations! I currently have a overall volume of maybe 6 gallons in between my different trays... I do not need more but I would love to spread the worm love (and feces) around.

    Let's see what our other sensible growers do around here.

    DIYingly yours,
    Rasta Roy

    Rasta Roy Well-Known Member

    What up dude! I run a small compost and soil business here is what I can tell you. The hardest part is operating on a large scale.

    First you need the space to store not only the worms and everything they encompass, but you also need a space to store excess waste because in order to maintain the volume of waste you need to operate a large scale castings operation. In order to obtain the amount of waste you need you need to hook up with some commercial level waste generating businesses (restaurants, coffee shops, etc), your worms will not be able to process the amount of waste you'll bring in on a weekly basis unfortunately. But you need to take the waste from said businesses on a regular basis or you will create a burden for them and they won't want to participate. So you need to either store the waste while it rots...or have space to do traditional composting, before you transfer to the worm bins. This seems to be the most successful route from what I've seen and done.

    This is not getting into the logistics of labor. You're definitely gonna need a small tractor with some kind of front loading capability. Along with a small truck for waste pick ups, plus gas and all that good stuff for the truck.

    And just like with growing, you put all this money and labor into it, and then you still gotta wait a few months before you actually have a product to you either need cash to sustain you or a second job in the meantime.

    The good news is once you have it is pretty easy to get rid of. Don't expect to get people to pay grow store bagged prices...but I just advertise through Craigslist and word of mouth and I always sell out by the end of gardening season because my operation isn't big enough to make enough compost to sell year round.

    Tyleb173rd Well-Known Member

    Keep it up, good brother.
    farmerfischer and Rasta Roy like this.

    chiqifella Well-Known Member

    I managed a 100 pounds of red wigglers for 7 years indoor(app. 100k worms) I added only paper, pro mix, water and cannabis/garden waste. I didnt sell worms or compost and it was back breaking work I figured, just to have some organic fertilizer for my farm. Raising 100 chickens yearly I had piles of chicken shit to compost also, when finished I found the process easier, cleaner, lighter to manage, and the compost was ore effective for my needs. Finally found a source of organic chicken shit(costs 200 bucks a year delivered) and chose that route as my best.

    pests, mold, over watering, under watering, over feeding,
    heat were manageable indoors for me, but the labor was not eventually.
    I used a utv with a dump bucket, a wheelbarrow, shovel and mostly my back.
    Rasta Roy

    Rasta Roy Well-Known Member

    My back hurts all the time but all this has just got me further into farming other crops and getting passionate about other agriculture projects. I just cleared an acre and a half to plant a small vineyard. Even if you're not composting and worm farming on a large scale I recommend anyone with a passion for gardening get into it doing it on a small scale. You'll save yourself some money on trash bags and you'll be doing your part to lighten the burden we put on our already overflowing landfills.

    ShLUbY Well-Known Member

    yup, totally feel you here. I love to grow things, and in fact that was my inspiration for going organic in the first place... then i realized i should be doing it with cannabis too! Well... here we are now bongsmilie . Cheers Roy
    Rasta Roy

    Rasta Roy Well-Known Member

    Cheers man!
    farmerfischer likes this.

    TheEpicFlowers Well-Known Member

    I keep 3 rubber maid totes of worms in my basement. I started out with a half pound of red wrigglers 5 years ago, they are unstoppable and breed like crazy if their enviroment is healthy.They use shredded newspaper as their bedding, which they eat as well and they easily keep up to the left over food scraps my family generates over the week. If im low on worm food , i just add a couple scoops of peatmoss .. they eat the hell out of that stuff.The castings are amazing in my soil mixes and the leachate mixes well in the teas I brew.
    I've seen videos of guys that run commercial worm farms out of 5 gallon buckets filled with cow shit. They keep them in stacks 4 high on pallets. It looks quite doable as a side project.

    Mazer Well-Known Member

    Dear EpicFlowers,
    Any chance you post the link to the video you mentioned on your comment here? The setup you described sounds like something I could do. I am surrounded by cows so why not?

    Manuringly yours,

    Dear chiqifella,
    I currently run more or less a 6 gallon bin indoors. And I could not agree more! Indoor it is hell.
    Having said this, outdoors it can only be much more simple, cleaner and easier to manage. I will have much more space and freedom of movement at my disposal and this is what I am currently lacking.

    FreedomOfMovingly yours,

    Dear Rasta Roy,
    Thank you so much for your encouraging and inspiring reply. I will have about 3 acres of land with a 650 sqf building with the possibility to add an additional building (maybe greenhouse). There is a pond and probably the possibility to find underground water (streams all over the area).
    My goal is to initially setup an organic orchard and probably a vegetable garden as I do have a job that I like. Should I manage to generate enough income from my worm farm (probably biochar production as well) I might go part time and eventually full time on my future farm. I will not have the capacity to invest much money at first but I eventually will. I am fairly certain some of the neighbors have front loaders or other sorts of necessary equipment.
    Could you give me some details on your operation? size amount of work you pout in it etc?

    Questionningly yours,
    Rasta Roy likes this.

    meangreengrowinmachine Well-Known Member

    This thread is amazing I have thought about doing this for years. I hope you are all very successful in this endeavor! What would you say you actually make doing this and at what volume?
    SchmoeJoe, chiqifella and Mazer like this.

    TheEpicFlowers Well-Known Member


    TheEpicFlowers Well-Known Member

    Good luck man. I wanted to get into the game a few years back when castings were impossible to source in my area. Now there a lot of guys doing this. I think you could scale it down a bit and do alot of what these guys are doing by hand.
    The potential is there... it depends on how hard you want to work
    OrganicGorilla and Mazer like this.

    Mazer Well-Known Member

    Dear TheEpicFlowers,

    I thank you for the effort!

    Very interesting video. My
    initial setup will be infinitely smaller and all DIY (good training to keep an athletic brain) and ideally all the resource should be recycled (bins, machinery, as much as possible) to please my ethics (and have a pretty label).
    Like I said, I have a good source of income already and this is a pet project of mine I have been fidgeting with for years.
    The opportunity has presented itself to purchase a decently priced and very good piece of chemical free arable land. I want to make the most out of it primarily for pleasure and without too much time or financial investment.

    Will keep you posted.
    Please all the worm farmers out there do share your experience here!

    Wigglingly yours,
    TheEpicFlowers likes this.

    chiqifella Well-Known Member

    for sure outdoor would be easier, unfortunately worm bins dont flourish in my winter outdoors.
    Mazer and meangreengrowinmachine like this.

    Mazer Well-Known Member

    Dear chiquifela,

    Should you want to go back to your endeavor, there are so many passive insulation technics using empty plastic bottle filled with air, black tarp, safety blanket, hot compost etc.. that I am sure should one would want it one would manage to keep the wrigglers at least alive in winter.

    Warmly yours,

    chiqifella Well-Known Member

    If temperature was my only concern I'd probably still be worming. You've presented some good info thank you.
    Unless someone else runs the show while I bark bones just cant handle the demands any more.

    Plus, my delivered organic composted chicken shit has surpassed all aspects of any other fertilization for me.
    much cleaner, lighter, better performer, no life to manage, no lifting, no wet ferts, etc(for me)
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2018

    SchmoeJoe Well-Known Member

    One of my favorites is to Daisy chain radiators together under an active compost pile and pump water through them in a sealed recirculating system. The guy who I saw do this used it for hot water for his house and never ran out.
    Rasta Roy

    Rasta Roy Well-Known Member

    Okay, so first my apologies, it's been a long day. And I've been hitting my wax pen and drinking a couple jolly pumpkin aged ales so forgive me if I'm a little loose with details. Also a couple things are trade secrets man I can't just put all the good stuff online for free ;)

    So on the collection side of things...I live in the capital of Michigan and thankfully my area has a handful of quality coffee roasters and coffee houses. I visit three locations and collect a mix of spent coffee grounds, organic food waste, and coffee chaff. This takes up about four hours a week. I'm able to do these pick ups in a Chevy trailblazer, I pick up 3 to 4 five gallon buckets per location two to three times a week depending on how busy they are. My lot also generates a lot of waste. It's 2 and a half acres and is bordered by one of the only forested areas of south Lansing so I get a lot of leaves and dead brush. Also the grass,from mowing the lawn at the front part of the property. This landscaping style work takes about 5 hours a week. If I had nicer equipment this could probably be cut down to 2 hours but I'm using a push mower and raking leaves by hand. I also have a friend that owns pet bunnies and their bunny litter and manure also contributes to the mix. Slight edit! I also collect a lot organic food waste from family and friends and to be honest it's hard to keep track of but I would say it's about 6 to 10 gallons of waste a week.

    So when I initially got my lot of land I set up these 4 feet wide, 30 feet long rows of composting materials. I didn't start the rows at 30 feet. I would make about a 2 foot long section of new materials at a time, because of the coffee grounds it would be very hot. After a few turns and about three weeks the section would cool down some but wouldn't be fully broken down and I would add worms to the section. Then I would create a new section of composting materials. As soon as that would cool down the worms would move over from the previous section, and then I would create a fresh section. And so on until the row got to 30 feet than I would make a new row.

    Soooo remember I'm a bit drunk...I'm gonna post this and do more in another comment just in case

    Shit....another edit!!! The coffee chaff is not apart of the five gallon bucket waste, the coffee chaff is usually about two fifty gallon trash bags twice a week.
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2018

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