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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Composting Series, Part 4: Worm Composting

Worm composting, or vermicomposting, is an easy, efficient way to recycle food waste and produce fine, high-quality compost for your houseplants or garden. Worm bins can be used in apartments, gardens, and even offices.

Compost bins can be easily purchased from your municipality. Once filled with kitchen waste and bedding material, red wiggler worms go to work and munch through your food scraps.

Why compost with worms?

Here's the dirt:

1) Reduce your garbage

Organic waste such as kitchen food scraps and garden clippings make up about a third of all household garbage going to the landfill today. Composting is one of the easiest ways to help reduce garbage volume.

2) It's easy

Once your worm bin is established, adding materials and bedding (brown material) become routine. Plus, the worms do most of the work for you!

3) Help the environment

Less waste means fewer trucks on the road moving garbage to landfills, not to mention less methane gas generated by landfills. Composting also helps to recycle nutrients back into the earth.

4) Improve your garden

Using compost in your garden will help the soil retain moisture after rain or watering.

5) Reduce use of chemical fertilizers

Help keep local waterways clean by avoiding chemical fertilizers -- composting provides a high-quality source of fertilizer, minus the chemical impact on the environment.

Source: Planet Natural

How do I get started?

The sample principles for backyard composting apply to worm composting. Layering dry, brown, carbon-rich materials in between your kitchen scraps and regularly aerating your compost will help improve your composting success. Similarly, fish, meat, and oil should never touch your composter.

1) Fill your empty worm bin with a variety of bedding material and two handfuls of sand or soil.

2) Add water to the bedding so its overall moisture level is like a wrung-out sponge. Ensure that the container is half-full of bedding.

3) Lift the bedding gently, using a tool, to create air spaces. This helps control odours and gives the worms freer movement.

4) Add the worms.

5) Add food scraps by pulling aside some of the bedding, dumping in the scraps, and covering the scraps with bedding.

6) Bury successive loads of food scraps in different locations of the bin.

7) Harvest your compost in one to three months. The contents of your bin will be brown and earthy-looking when ready.

For a handy guide on worm composting, and on composting successfully and common problems encountered, visit the Metro Vancouver website guide here.

Missed the earlier parts of the series? Check them out here.

Part 1: Food Scraps Recycling
Part 2: Backyard Composting
Part 3: Apartment Composting

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