Monday, October 10, 2011

Vermicomposting 101

During Sustainability Week, Dan, Caitlyn, and I decided to take on a project that has been on our department's wish-list for quite a while: 
Transfer the worms from our compost bin to a much bigger one.
Maybe you're wondering what the heck a worm composting bin is - Let me tell you!
Worm composting, also known as vermicomposting, is a common way to compost food scraps in an indoor setting (you can do it outside too). With a handful of red wiggler worms and soil, a bin, drill, and your everyday food scraps, like apple cores, banana peels, orange peels, and coffee grounds, you can get started with vermicomposting right away! Check out the video below for a summary of our vermicomposting transfer and tips.

After the creation of the vermicompost haven, you will throw all food in the top bin that you are done with, but please be careful about what you put in the bin, and consider the worms' diets - you should NOT throw any dairy or meat into the bin (eggs are not good, but crushed egg shells are ok - they can balance the acidity of orange peels and coffee grounds). Also, to properly balance the carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous levels in your compost (the nutrients that make it so good for garden or farm soil) you should add paper or other carbon stock (like dry leaves this fall!) to keep the bin contents balanced. 
In the bottom bin you will find all the worm tea and excess soil. This needs to be drained from time to time.
S why would you compost inside? First off, vermicompositing is ideal for small spaces, like kitchens and offices. Composting in general is a great solution to reduce the amount of material that goes to a landfill.  When you throw your apple core inside the bin, it gets broken down by microorganisms and fungi, which produce good food for the worms, instead of it staying put in a landfill for years (and creating nasty greenhouse gases, which contribute to climate change). As an added bonus, the extra soil the worms create (also known as “worm poop”) can be like steroids for plant growth. Additionally, the juices (also known as “worm tea”) that come out of the bin are also great for watering plants and yielding even stronger ones.
When I first started as an intern I was a bit taken back at the thought of vermicomposting in an office or house. However, as time has progressed, I have found my views to be different now. It really is a small initiative anyone can take on to successfully eliminate unnecessary landfill.
Any thoughts or questions on vermicomposting? Share them in the comments, we’d love to discuss them with you.
Here are some more resources for your future worm composting and other composting ventures:

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