Wednesday, January 11, 2012

WFMW: Vermiculture

A while back, Jen at Frugal Upstate had a great post giving a general overview of different composting techniques. Since my husband and I have never lived in a place with a real back yard (or any worth while patch of ground, for that matter), my ability to compost is pretty limited. However, I still wanted good, rich compost for my potted plants. Enter vermiculture!

Since the presence of worms speeds up the process, vermiculture is perfect for container-composting. Here's what I do:
  1. I start with a 5 gallon bucket, preferably lidded. Then I punch holes in the lid for air circulation.

  2. My first layer is shredded paper or dry leaves. This provides something absorbent on the bottom.

  3. Next, I put in a healthy layer of potting soil, along with my worms (purchased at the local bait & tackle shop--in my case a gas station).

  4. Then, I add a layer of kitchen scraps, followed by some more potting soil.
  5. I stir it all up, trying not to harm the worms in the process or get the paper layer mixed into the compost layers.

  6. Finally, I add a little water (about a drinking-glass full) and another layer of shredded paper.
My routine is to open it up every day to say hi to the worms and let in fresh air. Banana skins notwithstanding, I also am choosy about what I feed my worms. I need a pretty quick turn-around from craps to soil, so I try to include things that are easy for the worms to eat (rotten tomatoes, vegetable parings that I've already boiled for stock, egg shells, etc.). Whenever I add new material, I stir it in. As for proportions, I eyeball it: if it looks wet, I add more paper; if it looks dry, I add more scraps and more water; if I have a lot of finished compost, I add more scraps. Since space is limited, I sometimes keep compost-bound scraps in the freezer, only defrosting them when I am ready to put them in the bin--at least that's what I did before we moved to Israel. Right now, my bin is still in its infancy, so we'll have to see how things shape up.

My only caution with this method of composting, is that there simply isn't enough volume for the bin to create the heat necessary to avoid frost. One of the advantages of a lidded bucket is that our worms can live in the kitchen during the cold months.

For more tips and tricks, check out Works for Me Wednesday at We Are THAT Family!

1 comment:

Jenn @ Frugal Upstate said...

Glad my composting inspired you! I was given a worm bin-already in progress-from a friend who moved somewhere that they wouldn't be able to garden. It's been a bit too wet and I've been adding shredded paper. . . adding potting soil never occured to me! Guess I'll be dumping & stirring later today :)