Many people have asked my opinion of various worm bins. So I thought it would be a good idea to get it down in writing. Over the next few months I am going to write reviews based on my experiences with various manufactured worm bins. To start off the series, I will begin with the Worm Factory vermicomposting bins.
Bin: Worm Factory 360 manufactured by Nature’s Footprint
Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Summary: A stack-able worm bin which is aesthetically pleasing, has small footprint, and is excellent for new vermicomposters. I would even recommend it for use in households due to odorless operation.
- Helps prevent anaerobic conditions by allowing excess water to drain to bottom pan.
- Convenient spicket allows leachate to be easily removed from system.
- Easily expandable, just add more trays
- Instructions and DVD give user good information
- All materials you need to get started are included with unit.
- Stack-able trays allow harvesting castings easier…no need to separate worms from castings.
- Assembly is very simple
- Spicket can get plugged sometimes by compost
- Surface area of unit cannot be expanded horizontally
- 4 Tray minimum in order to accomplish easier harvesting.
- Accompanying tools are not the best quality
My original worm bin was a Worm Factory 3-tray system (photo above). It made a great starter worm bin! Why? Well, most beginners who experience problems vermicomposting can trace their issues back to overfeeding their worms. Bad bin conditions can result from the combination of the individual not knowing how much to feed the worms, their fear of starving them, and not realizing how much water is released by food waste as it starts to breakdown. The Worm Factory’s design helps alleviate these problems. Each tray bottom is made up of a grid (photo below) which allows adequate ventilation and excess moisture just drains through to the bottom tray. This prevents the bin from getting saturated and material breaking down anaerobically. Also, the faucet at bottom of unit makes it easy to drain off the excess liquid. In short, it is a more forgiving worm bin.
Another plus of the system is that it comes with everything a person needs to get started: easily to following assembly directions, coconut coir (bedding), accessory tools, and worm care instructions, & DVD. With this kit, the user just needs to add worms. One negative: the accessory tools are pretty low quality (thermometer, rake, etc). But they serve their intended purpose.
Since the worm factory is stack-able, it has the capability to just add more trays as needed. One downside of my original worm factory (old model) was that it came with only 3 trays. So when I harvested the castings in the bottom tray, often worms were still present in the castings. By adding another tray or two, it created more separation between the food and the last tray. This meant less worms getting dumped in the garden. The new version, Worm Factory 360, now comes with 4 trays out of the package. So it helps fix this issue. Also, the newer version expands to 8 trays ( 1 more than the old model).
While the bin allows extra trays to be stacked, there is no way to increase the system horizontally. This means that your worm population will level out and stop increasing. This is due to the fact that the worms reside in the top 6-12 inches of the bin. So even though you are adding trays, it is only increasing depth, not total surface area. So the worms will slow down reproduction unless you move some to another bin. But this disadvantage also means that the system maintains a small footprint. So it can be placed in a kitchen, pantry, or other small area without consuming valuable room.
Overall, I think the worm factory 360 is an excellent worm bin. The manufacturer learned the weaknesses of the previous version and adapted the 360 to help provide a more effective worm bin. I would highly recommend them especially to newbies. For household use, they are perfect. But if you are serious gardener who needs a lot of vermicompost, you may want to look for a larger unit (such as worm wigwam or something larger).