I’m Going to Live with Worms

A Can of Worms Won't Open Itself - Worm Composting

Deciding to Compost

Today, Earth Day Eve, I decided to compost. I’ve been thinking about it the last few weeks since I took the quiz on PracticallyGreen.com and saw “compost kitchen food waste” as a suggested action item. I’ve been a lazy environmentalist for a while and wasn’t sure I wanted to tackle composting, especially since I live in a fairly small apartment. But, the site prompted me to do some additional research.

I checked out a few sites and bought a used book on Amazon, The Urban/Suburban Composter: The Complete Guide to Backyard, Balcony and Apartment Composting by Mark Cullen and Lorraine Johnson, and after reading the first few chapters I knew for certain I wanted to finally do it. But what method? There are so many different types of composting and I knew next to nothing about any of them. Basically, all those different types fall into seven categories.

Composting Methods

  1. holding units (including heaps)
  2. turning units
  3. mulching
  4. soil incorporation
  5. anaerobic composting
  6. worm composting, and
  7. cover crops/green manuring.

When we think of home composting we generally think of holding units (heaps, bins), turning units (tumblers, or rotating bins), anaerobic composting, or worm composting. I needed a composting method that could be used in minimal space, wouldn’t smell, wouldn’t attract bugs, and could require some effort but not a ton (as my husband and I tend to be forgetful–okay, and sometimes lazy; we’re lazy environmentalists).

Anaerobic composting relies on bacteria and microorganisms that thrive in airless conditions. It be done it a sealed bucket or a commercial bokashi system, which appealed to me because of its ease of use–you simply put food scraps in and let it decompose, no turning/aerating involved–and because the commercial systems have spigots to harvest compost tea. However, it can be very, very smelly unless you buy an accelerator in the form of a colony of microorganisms ready to dig in to your trash. Of course, you’d have to buy a new bag each time you harvest the compost or else deal with the smell. The real deal breaker for me was that food scraps have to be collected and put in the bucket all at one time, and I wanted something I could add scraps to a little at a time.

Aerobic composting relies on bacteria and microorganisms that require air, meaning the compost either needs regular poking or stirring (as in with holding units), rotated (as with tumblers), or turned (as with some heaps, soil incorporation, and green manuring). I quickly decided that tumblers, which only require a short moment to rotate, would be better for us since we sometimes got lazy. We could even make a small DIY tumbler out of a round, lidded paint bucket set in a crate and set outside of our door on the walkway.

Worm composting, also known as vermicomposting, uses worms (or bugs or fungi in other types of vermicomposting) to break down scraps of food, paper plates, and other organic material. This immediately sounded interesting to me–I loved the idea of hundreds of wiggly pet worms in my kitchen–but it made my husband grimace. Yet it did seem to be the most recommended method for apartment dwellers as the risk of pests and odors (though these can always be remedied) is almost none, except perhaps the annoying fruit fly.

There was another concern to consider: what would I compost? We don’t have a yard so grass and garden clippings wouldn’t be available composting material. We have pet rat and bird bedding (yes, we have rats! two: our furry Rascal and our hairless Ratticus. we also have two lovebirds, Peach and Cherry) and food scraps. Mostly food scraps, which are considered “green material.” Which method wouldn’t need a whole lot of “brown” like dead leaves?

Worm Composting.

(And my husband said yes!)

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4 responses to this post.

  1. […] I’m Going to Live with Worms (thewholelifeblog.wordpress.com) […]

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  2. […] I’m Going to Live with Worms (thewholelifeblog.wordpress.com) […]

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  3. Good points

    Reply

  4. Wow,, That is awesome!!

    Reply

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