Prior to my recent adventures in gardening I hadn’t really given composting much thought in my life, and really, why would I have? I didn’t like gardening or yardwork. (And still don’t really, but I do like growing my own food. Why grow flowers when you can grow food?) I wanted to grow my food organically. This necessitates that I learn to compost. So I got busy reading about composting and what to do and how to do it. That was this past winter. The first thing I wanted to do was figure out how to start composting my kitchen scraps, even though it was the dead of winter. My research lead me to worm composting which is what I wanted to talk about today.
Basically, worm composting is using red worms to compost materials. (click link for a Wikipedia definition) It is most commonly used in areas where a compost bin can’t be placed or to compost small amounts of materials. I was using it to compost my kitchen scraps because I figured that a normal compost pile wouldn’t really be active in the winter around here. (Apparently compost piles are still active in the winter but they need to be built up before winter then so they can generate their own heat through the winter) Anyway, I used an online guide to build my own worm bin and populated it with some worms I bought from a local vermicomposting place.
The results have been really fantastic. Just recently I dumped the contents of the bin and the worms into the big compost pile to give them more food to eat and so that I only have to take scraps outside instead of maintaining two places. These worms went through a lot of material and they made a lot of good hummus (worm poo) which is actually twice as strong as compost, from what I read. When winter comes I’ll transfer some worms I catch back into my bin and put it back in my basement for them to eat away at my scraps through the winter. Then in the spring they go back in the pile. And we repeat the cycle over and over. It’s a great way to start composting on a small scale. Kids love it. My boys loved to “feed” the worms. You should give it a try.
If you are already buying compost to use you can at least start doing this and start saving yourself some cash. The biggest complaint I hear is that people don’t like the way the piles look. Well, if that’s the case get yourself a premanufactured compost bin. Yeah they are expensive but in the long run you’ll save money over buying compost all the time.
And if you do buy compost at least find a nursery or greenhouse locally that you can cut down on the plastic packaging and support a local business. Why buy the stuff from a plastic bag from the National Home Center? So many places locally make it too and it’s great stuff with a lot of diverse inputs. That’s what I use in my garden and I’ve noticed it works better than the other stuff.
Check out this link if you want to read some real information about composting and see links to other resources.
Composting Link on Groovy Green