Having a garden is a great way to go green. It will allow you to grow your own organic fruits and vegetables, reducing the demand for store bought produce, and the pesticide use and long shipping distances that come with those. It will also make the air around you cleaner, and give you the satisfaction that comes with getting in touch with the earth.
If you have your own garden, a compost heap is a must, to constantly supply your plants with the organic nutrients they need. This article is about worm composting, one of the quickest and most effective methods (a worm bin can turn a pile of kitchen scraps into usable fertilizer in 4-8 weeks, while regular composts usually take at least a few months).
Building A Bin
Your first step is building a bin for your composting habitat. There are 2 kinds materials generally used: plastic or rubber storage containers, and wood.
The plastic and rubber containers have the advantage of convenience and durability. To prepare, all you’ll need to do is drill holes along the sides for air flow, and they’ll last longer than wood containers. The downside to these is that it will be hard to get a really good air flow going, resulting in lower quality compost.
Wood containers, due to the nature of wood, will breathe much better and will create a good air flow. They will also absorb moisture, which is helpful. Wood containers will cost more to make and you’ll need to replace them quicker, but all in all they are the best choice for higher quality compost.
You’ll want to keep your bin covered at all times, and in an area not facing direct sunlight. This will help keep your compost moist but not wet (you don’t want moisture to start forming puddles), and keep it in the temperature range you want (50-80F).
Filling Your Bin
You’ll want your bin to consist of two kinds of materials: brown and green. Green materials are high in nitrogen, and include most kitchen scraps, grass clippings, etc. Brown materials are high in carbon and phosphate, and include shredded cardboard or newspaper (avoid anything with colored ink), leaves, wood shavings, etc.
Fill your bin about ½ to ¾ of the way with brown material (shredded cardboard or newspaper works great here). This is your bedding, which will create a chemical balance in your compost, increase air flow, absorb moisture, and give your worms a place to live.
Add some soil on top, and sprinkle in some water. After a few days, you can drop your worms into your bin and let them get comfortable.
Add kitchen scraps daily, and sprinkle water every few days to keep things moist. Do not put meat, dairy products or oily food into your compost, as it will attract predators and smell bad.
All About Worms
You want a very specific kind of worm for your compost. Eisenia foetida (Red Wigglers) are the most common and the most effective. Eisenia hortensis (European Night Crawlers) can also be used- they reproduce slower, but will grow larger and can later be used as fishing worms.
You’ll need 1lb of worms for every 1/2lb of average daily kitchen waste you produce.
Harvesting Your Compost Material
When most of your brown material has been eaten, you can harvest your fertilizer. Put on a pair of gloves, and move the material to one side. Fill the other side with brand new brown material, and sprinkle some water on it. Leave it for a few days, as the worms gravitate to the fresher material. You can then dig out the older material, and use it as fertilizer for your garden.
Good luck and stay prepared!
You can read more from RamboMoe at his site, preparedforthat.com