Every day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.
Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day is the Urban Worm Bag Composting Bin. Many of you know I have been looking for a way to do worm composting on my property that would not be invaded almost instantly and colonized by fire ants. I believe I have not only found that but that I have found a superior way to compost with worms over many designs with this “bag system”.
Innovative Design and Ant Resistant by Proxy
The design is the type of thing where simple meets innovative. This model is the second the inventor has put out. It has an improved bottom that I think makes a ton of sense. The metal frame (despite claims to the contrary by some in reviews) is very sold and sturdy as are the nylon corner brackets that you use to assemble it.
Assembly is a 5 minute and zero beer operation. Seriously if you want a beer drink one and admire your 3 minutes of handy work after you put it together, if you really think that rates a beer. The beauty of this system is for my situation is it is suspended and all zipped up, there is one vector of entry for ants and it is where the zippers on the top come together. They do leave a small gap, as of yet I have had no issues but if it becomes a problem I will plug the hole with same some petroleum jelly after closing. Lubed zippers and stuck ants, done.
The over all design though is not really anti ant, it is more pro air flow. The bag is very well built and durable, think rip stop nylon on the best tactical bag brands. Solid double stitching everywhere but it breathes. This allows good airflow at all times, good airflow is happy worms.
I quickly figured out that there are two real keys to this worm farm, the first is you don’t need as much moisture as you think you do. Damp is all you need and remember almost everything we feed to worms is wet and lets go a lot of water. I cover problems next but most stem as you will see from people using too much water and not enough bedding. I watched a ton of youtube videos on this and everyone that is really happy says the same thing, not too wet and good bedding.
For bedding you can used shredded paper, coco coir, prepared bedding, etc. but you should be adding bedding in addition to food, not every time but say weekly may be every other week. Let me say I really like the Frabill Product for a prepared bedding for initial set up. I use paper and coir after initial set up though. You really just need to keep an eye on stuff, if it seems really wet, add some bedding and stop feeding for a bit.
You should not have worm juice dripping from your bag, ever. With this system that is way to wet and I think the desire some have for it, is a source of trouble for many people. If you want worm tea, put some castings in a big “tea bag”, set that in a 5 gallon bucket and pump air into it for 24 hours. That will do more then leached fluid ever could hope to anyway.
When ready to harvest you remove the bottom pouch, open the bottom draw string and take out as much of the castings as you want, then close it back up and keep going. I am sure some worms will come along for the ride, you can just sort them (most anyway) and return them to the top.
The Negative Reviews and Why the Problems Exist
I am not going to say that the negative people in this one are “God’s special children” likely some are but mostly I think it is one small assembly error and again adding too much water. Let’s start with the assembly error.
I should of video’d this before putting it together but when assembling I noticed that the brackets do have a right and a wrong way to go together. You will notice two of the three holes have a stop in them, one goes deeper. The deeper hole is for the vertical arms, the more shallow for the horizontal. I noticed this instantly but get how the less mechanically inclined may not, the instructions on this one could use a bit of an upgrade.
Simply put though if someone does this wrong; assembly will become very difficult near the end and the angle will never be square. You might even break a bracket or bend a frame piece if you never workout what is wrong and try to force stuff. So don’t do that. My video below will make it pretty clear what I am talking about if you don’t quite follow what I am saying here.
Next is the wetness factor, one reviewer actually said, “Staining When Too Wet” and included a picture with a large puddle at the bottom. Okay how about, IDK, not making it too wet? They also complained it “doesn’t keep mites in”, um okay not even sure how to respond to that. Again this is not a bath tub bin you are going to harvest worm tea from it isn’t designed that way.
Next there is an excellent video available in the product listing by the inventor and he states that it is “important that it be installed on level ground” because the bin and stand are designed to support vertical force not side shear. That bit about side shear are my words, he didn’t say it that way but it is the logical conclusion.
Something bigger is at work here though, yes I am sure some “special people” set it on a 30 degree hill but you know where you don’t have 30 degree hills? Inside a building. Unless you are on some hell scape version of Hoarders anyway. And while I am sure a hill is bad, I think outside especially without over head cover is worse.
Let’s start with the obvious, sun on a worm farm is bad, m’kay. Sun on material like ripstop nylon and resin brackets in time is also bad. Going to say right out of the gate this belongs in a garage, out building, shed, etc. If not at minimum somewhere sun never hits directly and a roof of some kind blocks all rain. I am back to wet but this time wet equalling weight.
It is a bag, if it sits in rain even though nylon like this is great at shedding water to a degree it will accumulate on the lid, form a pond and then really seep into the interior. Simple question would you rather carry a 5 gallon bucket filled with lightly moist soil or one with very wet soil in it. The dry one right? Because at 8.3 lbs a gallon water is heavy.
What I noticed if that almost every picture of a structural failure was outside on a lawn and such. The stand is designed to support the weight of a full bin with damp material, not even a 75% full one with waterlogged material. I think that is easy enough to understand. In other words one way or another I think more that 90% of people who have had issues with this product simply got it too wet. So don’t do that and I expect you will love it.
Honestly while as I said my great battle over 10 years on this property with the fire ant plague is what made me try this, I just think it is a better way to vermicompost. If I have enough success I will likely buy a second one to up production further. With the addition of biochar on our homestead adding it to our new worm bins is a natural fit. And, while I have no designs on selling worms, I do have another reason for creating a worm surplus.
As many of you know I have developed a method I call “Johnson-Su Lite” composting with a simplified version of the Johnson-Su bioreactor. The people behind the original deign add 2 pounds of worms to a batch to finish it. Their batches are much larger than mine so half a pound to a pound will likely be enough for mine. I am unwilling to pay for worms for this purpose due to the fact that again the dang ants sooner or later invade and kill them, but I don’t mind if the worms are essentially free.
Anyway for me the Urban Worm Bag Composting Bin closes a loop I have had open since I moved to our little farmstead in 2013, but for everyone again I think this is a better way to compost so check it out today. I also wanted to point out if you want to build your own stand you can buy just the bag. I don’t really think you can save money this way but you could over build your stand or may be put it on castors if you plan to keep it in a building with a hard floor.
There other way I can see this working is if you wanted to do a “rack stand” that may be holds multiple bags, but I think most will do bet just buying the full kit and putting it together correctly as described here. Again see my video below for clarity on that.
Lastly while I encourage you to watch my video and by all means check out some of the YouTube videos by happy users, really watch the video on the product page. You will find it at the top where you can view the various images, there are two videos. The second longer one is by the owner and it shows me a guy that helps his customers and cares about the quality of his product. The kind of guy I want to do business with.
So check out the Urban Worm Bag Farm today and see it if is right for your homestead.
Remember you can always find all of our reviews at TspAz.com
PS – Here is a quick video over view of my Urban Worm Bag Farm