Saturday, July 19, 2008

Digging a Little Deeper into Composting

Every now and then I like to go back through my old posts to hunt for ideas for my newer posts and I discovered that while I do have some helpful links for you on how to start your own compost box (or pile), I didn't provide much beyond that. So today I decided that I would spend some time exploring the lovely world of compost.

There are a few different ways that you can compost.
  • A pile out in the yard (the old school way)
  • Vermicomposting - a bucket is filled with stuff and red worms are added to the mix to break down all the stuff you throw in.
  • Bokashi - similar to vermicomposting but instead of worms you mix up some wood shavings and microbes that break everything down.
From everything I've read, vermicomposting is the way to go if you're short on space and it produces a better end product than bokashi composting does. So I will be looking mainly at it.

If you clicked on the click above you may already know everything that I will be writing about because The Compost Guy's website is so awesome it almost hurts. So, let's talk worms and trash.

The first thing that you're going to need is a bin with a lid. From everything I've read it's best to get one that about 10 gallons of softer plastic (like a Rubbermaid Tub) and you need to make sure that it's a solid color. The worms are light sensitive and if you have a clear bucket you will cause them unnecessary stress and make your new pets very unhappy.

Next you'll need to drill holes in your bin to make sure that your worms and your compost can get the air that they will need. I would recommend that you watch the video that is posted on the compost guy's vermicomposting page (click the link up above to access it). He builds a deluxe worm habitat, but once the movie is over with you have the option of watching other videos that he has posted and several of them are all about making smaller and simpler worm homes.

Once you have your holes drilled, you will need some bedding. Tear up some newspaper and cardboard (the compost guy's favorite because it allows for more air to get into the mix) and spray it down until it's damp. Once your bedding is in and damp, add your food scraps. Now comes a very important question that must be answered.

What exactly can I put into my vermicomposting bin?

Well, according to this list I found on Red Worm Composting (the Compost Guy's other site) here is a basic list of what is good and bad in a worm bin:


  • Veggie and Fruit waste (but at citrus in moderation)
  • Starchy Materials like Bread, Potatoes, Rice, Pasta
  • Aged animal manures
  • Shredded newspapers, cardboard, and used paper towels
  • Rinsed out and crushed up eggshells
  • Coffee Grounds
  • Tea Bags
  • Human/Pet Waste
  • Non-Biodegradable Materials
  • Dairy/Meat
  • Oils/Grease
  • Harsh Chemicals

And then the last thing that you will need are, of course, your worms. You can toss them right in and they should get to work right away. According to a few other sites I've looked at (including the ones in my old post) you might want to think about keeping your scraps in the fridge for about a week and then putting them all in at once so that you don't disturb your worms quite as often. Your dirt should be ready to harvest in about 3 months.

If you want more information I would high recommend either looking at either of the compost guys' websites. They are both wonderfully informative and easy to navigate. He also sells the worms that you will need to purchase to really get your compost box on the move!

I am going to be starting my own worm bin in the coming weeks so that I can have some soil ready for when I start my container garden next spring. I will be sure to post pictures and updates as I go along!

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