Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Composting in the City: Vermiculture

As someone with a green thumb and a strong love of fresh and local vegetables, I have enjoyed my time spent on various gardening projects. How to take it up a notch? Compost!

I have been eyeing this worm tower for years, but as a student and then a world traveler for a year, it wasn't the right time to commit to raising a worm family. Now, the time has come!

The tower is a pretty cool system to compost your food scraps and other biodegradable stuff (hair, junk mail, tea bags, etc) without having to do much work. You start with one tray, fill it with the bedding that the instructions recommend and then once your worms arrive, start feeding the house scraps to them. When the tray is full, you add another tray on top of the old one and the worms crawl up towards the new food. You continue adding new trays occasionally until you've run out (I got five) and by that time, the bottom tray should be filled only with compost. You simply empty that tray onto your garden or your potted plants, refill with new bedding and add to the top of the stack. Voila!

My worm tower arrived and I quickly assembled the few loose pieces; the bottom tray to the base and the nozzle and then sat down to read the instructions for setting up the worm bedding. Since I just got the email that my worms have shipped (E.T.A. Friday), it is time to roll out the welcome mat!

First step was to line the bottom tray with newspaper so the silly worms don't fall out the bottom.

On top of the newspaper, I sprinkled coir that I had rehydrated in water and then squeezed out to leave it damp. 




Worms love egg shells and leaves, so I added those too and then mixed the bedding all together. I may have been trying to remember the lines in Macbeth; Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

On top of this layer of bedding, I added shredded newspaper, covered this with a few more pages of damp newspaper and put the lid on top.








I am excited to start composting and to live in better alignment with my earth friendly values!

I went to three stores after work today in search of an "official" composting bucket...but alas, January in DC is not the best time to find this treasure. Too bad. For now, I'll use a pot!



So far I've collected coffee grounds, onion skins, pepper seeds and a tea bag. Hope my worms are ready for a feast!




As a side note, my roommate Jesse Reilly spent two years on rural South Africa volunteering for the peace corps. One of his projects was making a worm farm! Check out his blog :)

1 comment:

  1. Be careful with the onion skins! Worms don't like it, apparently. Coincidentally, I got my wormery delivered the day before yesterday and my worms are arriving tomorrow! Looking forward to it! :) I enjoyed reading your recipes too, by the way. Hope all is well with you. Silvia

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