Monday, July 28, 2008

Challenge #7: Worm-powered Composting

Worm bin for composting kitchen scrapsA few weeks ago I inherited a worm bin. This was excellent timing, as I wanted to start one, and even more excellent because it was free for me and kept the tubs that house the worms out of the landfill.

I've wanted to start either a compost bin or a worm bin for my kitchen and yard waste. I don't really have a great space to put a yard bin, nor have I wanted to spend the money, so I've procrastinated on getting one for almost five years. Last year I had looked into getting a worm bin, because I could actually keep it in my basement (the promoters of worm bins say you can keep it right in your kitchen), and would not have to take my kitchen scraps out in the cold winter weather (I really hate winter).

Well, serendipity stepped in and a worm bin, chock full of already-trained worms, landed in my yard. Since it had been an outside bin, I've kept it in the shade under my carport, and the worms don't seem to be negatively affected by the St. Louis heat and humidity.

Let me just say, this worm bin is awesome! I collect my kitchen waste in an old yogurt container as I am cutting up the veggies for dinner or cracking eggs for brownies. I've been told not to throw onions in there - I imagine it gives the worms indigestion - so I have a separate yogurt container for non-worm-feed-able items, like bottle tops, plastic, and difficult to break-down stuff like peach pits. The worms prefer a low-fat diet so I avoid feeding them meat, oil and dairy. They've recently been fed cupcake wrappers and a biodegradable cornstarch fork, and I am very curious to see how long these take to become unidentifiable.

Every once in awhile I peek into the second layer, where I can see the worms working away. Vermiculture equals worms taking MY trash and making compost for my garden There is a distinctly squishy sound going on in there, but the compost looks great...these worms are surely earning their keep.

My plan is to bring the bin into the basement for the winter. I will fish out the worms and empty the compost into my garden. The worms will have a fresh start to the winter and I'll see if I like having worms and compost in my basement as much as I have enjoyed having it in my backyard.

I poked around in there today, and it looks like I need to sort the worms from their castings in the second layer, as it is getting a bit crowded. I'll let you know how this goes.

Since I am no vermiculture expert, I send you off to these pages for tips and directions on building your own worm farm:

Composting With Red Wiggler Worms

Cheap and Easy Worm Bin

CompostSince I got my worm bin from someone relocating, the materials that made the bin are being REUSED and kept out of the landfill.
By filling the bin with my kitchen scraps I am RECYCLING organic material back into my garden, using the labor of these wiggling red worms.

Worm Farming REcycles Organic Wasteto anyone who gets their own worm bin going, whether it's homemade or purchased commercially.



Patricia said...

More of a question than a comment... How green is the in-sink garbage disposal? It reduces trash, but it's not the same as composting, correct?

Anita K said...

I guess there are several factors to weigh for a sink disposal: how much water does it use, does the trash go to the city sewer or to a septic tank and how food (esp. fat) impacts the waste water management, if there is a garden on which to use the compost (even indoor houseplants), and the electricity usage.

Personally, I can't see how a sink disposal can compete with a compost bin (worm or no-worm).

I loved the "insinkerator" I had years ago in a place I rented for the convenience, but I can say that the worms are way more fun (I love dirt after all). The husband may disagree...but he'll leave the worms to me!