Worm Composting Bins / Conserving Valuable Resources
Composting, often described as nature’s way of recycling, is the biological process of breaking up of organic waste such as food waste, manure, leaves, grass trimmings, paper, worms, and coffee grounds, etc., into an extremely useful humus-like substance by various micro-organisms including bacteria, fungi and actinomycetes in the presence of oxygen.
Actinomycetes are similar to fungus in the way they grow and spread, but its distinguishing elements are that the types of materials they are efficient at decomposing. The active nature in this microscopic bacteria and the sheer number present (about 10 million per 1 gram of soil), make them highly effective at breaking down materials like tree bark, newspaper, and other hard organic material.
Today, the use of composting to turn organic wastes into a valuable resource is expanding rapidly in many countries, as landfill space becomes scarce and expensive, and as people become more aware of the impact they have on the environment.
Worm Composting Bins / Fast and Easy
Worm composting is the most effective method of composting your kitchen waste. In other words, it is the fastest and easiest way to recycle household food waste. For best results one should use worm composting bins. They can be made in any size or can be purchased. A good worm bin does not smell; excludes critters that might be attracted to food scraps and can be harvested every few months. Bins can be:
- Commercially available vermicomposting units
- Plastic totes you adapt yourself
- Home-made wooden bins
Nowadays, high tech worm compost bins are also available which are able to separate the worm compost from worm castings using a quick and easy vibrating system. Modular bins are also gaining popularity. Worm bins can be located in the basement, shed, garage, balcony or kitchen counter. They need to be kept out of the hot sun, heavy rain and cold. Once up and running they require very little maintenance.
Worm Composting Bins / Things to Know Before You Get One
You need to keep in mind certain factors before you go on to purchase a bin. Firstly, the location of your bin is going to determine its size and what it’s made of. Secondly, you should consider if it’s going to mobile or stationary. If your bin is going to be kept inside then it will most likely need to be moved when it’s time to harvest your compost. Outside bins can be stationary or mobile. Lastly, to determine the surface area of the bin, you’ll need to collect your food waste for a week and then weigh it. Your ideal surface area will be one sq. foot per lb. of food waste.
Regardless of your choice, the worm bin you use must provide proper ventilation. Make sure the plastic ones are not soft plastic. They will leak out chemicals which retard worm growth and reproduction. Also, plastic bins need more drainage than wood bins. Wood containers on the other hand are absorbent and good insulators for worms. Because red worms need lots of oxygen, whatever the shape of your bin, it must have holes in the sides, top and bottom sufficient to let in air but keep out flies.
Worm Composting Bins / Lid and Bedding Tips
It is advisable to have your bin covered by a lid especially, if it is to be placed outside. Not only will it help to keep the critters and pests out of your bin but it’ll also keep the moisture intact by cutting down the evaporation rate. Moreover, it prevents any odor from escaping.
The bedding is most important part of your compost bin. It should:
- Allow oxygen flow
- Be light-weight
- Retain moisture
- Be non-toxic
- Be easily digested by the worms
A good combination for bedding is shredded paper or cardboard, loam, and leaf mold. Ideally, the moisture content of the bedding should be 50-60% and temperatures should be between 40-80 degrees F. When adding food to your bin, place in a different corner each time under some of the damp newspaper as this will help reduce both odor and the infestation of fruit flies. Worms love fruit and vegetable scraps. Nevertheless, keep away those high in citric acid such as lemons, tomatoes, and oranges.
Provide for your worms what they prefer – cool, moist, low light conditions – and they will provide you with chunks of “black gold”.
For more information on composting follow these links: