The Worm Factory 360 WF360B Worm Composter has a standard 4-tray size, but is expandable up to 8 trays, making it a home composting system with one of the largest volumes available. The trays are fashioned out of 100% recycled high-density polyethylene, and each tray holds up to 1200 worms. Its dimensions are 18 inches by 18 inches wide, with the height varying depending on the number of trays in use and the depth of the compost layer, up to a maximum of 28 inches as the trays stack as tightly as the compost will allow.
By layering trays one over another, this system encourages the migration of existing worms in the lower tray up to the next one through a grid when all nutrients in the lowest tray have been broken down. This saves time and energy by naturally removing the worms from the finished compost. Nutrient-rich moisture filters down through the system, and the resulting ‘worm tea’ can be harvested right from the spigot. Following that, the tray can then be refilled with fresh organic material, and replaced on the top of the stack to continue the process. The lid of the Worm Factory 360 is designed to be convenient stand for the trays while harvesting the compost. Worms are not included and must be purchased separately, however the included accessory kit provides some basic tools for easier management of the system.
The Worm Factory 360 comes in black, green and terracotta, and includes an instructional DVD, a user manual and a warranty of 10 years following product registration. I believe it to be a great household addition for both beginner and experienced composters.
The Worm Factory 360 is simple to set up and operate, as the instruction manual is written in layman’s terms and includes step-by-step instructions. The instructional DVD also offers video guidance. This system also makes the composting process much faster compared to traditional composting methods, as it comes with a thermo-siphon air flow design. Managing the system only takes 15 minutes or less a week.
While old-fashioned way of composting kitchen scraps results in fruit flies, a bad odour and a compost that could freeze outside in winter, the Worm Factory 360 promises a stench-free and fly-free composting process. I have also noticed a general absence of fruit flies, and minimal odour which smells somewhat earthy but not unpleasantly so.
The Worm Factory 360 is also fairly sturdy for a plastic-based product, being within the satisfactory range though not impressively so. Its minimalistic, cuboidal design makes it aesthetically easy to place, and makes the best use of available space in corners. All the trays are stacked vertically so the entire system does not take up much horizontal space, and the lighter weight afforded by its plastic material allows it to be moved easily. There are also no large moving parts such as big tumblers, and no shovelling is required whatsoever, making the composting process fairly tidy and effortless.
A main con of vermicomposting in general is that the worm colony may take a while to establish, and the worms may initially crawl out of the trays and die. Shipping the worms at purchase could also prove fatal for the worms. It is also not completely fool-proof in deterring fruit flies, as I’ve noticed small numbers of flies buzzing about, depending on where the unit is placed.
Some users have filed complaints regarding poor customer service, as the company appears to be dismissive of support requests once the product has been purchased. One case claims it was not mentioned that the thermometer for temperature monitoring is not included, and the buyer was instead given a coupon to get one online, forcing them to pay for more shipping. While I have not personally experienced this issue with the manufacturer, the concerns are still valid, and must be taken into consideration before purchase.
Tips for Use
Worm composting can be done using kitchen scraps, paper waste and cardboard. Most kitchen scraps can be used, with the exception of dairy products, meats and citrus items, which are difficult to compost and can be harmful to the worms. The optimal ratio of organic material for the worms are approximately 50% food scraps, and 50% fibre or paper.
The first tray should take about three months to be fully composted by the worms, and the following trays can take as little as a month, depending on the amount of waste added. To ensure a faster breakdown process, the food can be cut up into smaller pieces before being thrown in.
The recommended starting number of worms is 1000. Once settled in, the worms will multiply and the presence of baby worms is a good indicator that the unit has been set up correctly. The Worm Factory 360 should also be kept at a suitable temperature, so that the bedding remains between 40 and 80F. The general rule of thumb with feeding is that the worms can eat half their weight in food per day – they can simply be fed more at once if the user is to be away for a longer period of time.