Thursday, October 28, 2010

Indoor Compost Container / Vermicompost Bin

I'm a big fan of recycling and I'm absolutely thrilled with the concept of composting.  So you may ask, how do you get this old and not be practicing it?  Well, I think I know one person who practices composting.   It's not exactly popular in these parts.  I do have vague memories of digging compost pits in high school, but the exercise didn't ingrain the importance of it.  I just remembered the manure and it grossed me out.

Anyway, I've been fiddling around with composting worms the past few months.  I've got a couple of containers with different set-ups but not really a whole lot of worms since I just bought 250 grams (including substrate) about three months ago.  Unlike my manure exercise back in high school, I found vermicomposting very exciting because it gives me a chance to utilize kitchen scraps and yard waste.  That's great on a micro level.  But it also intrigued my imagination because it can positively impact the country's garbage situation.  And so I was immediately hooked.

This brings me to my topic for today.  I want to be able to utilize all my kitchen scraps, but I will surely get at least one objection to bringing worms into the house.  Thus, instead of an indoor worm composting bin, I will just use it as a composting bin (without the worms). Once it's full, I'll move it outside and introduce the worms.  I think it'll also give the greens a chance to lose some heat before I add the worms.  I've heard that decomposing stuff can generate heat enough to kill worms.

That said, this is how I created this indoor compost container / vermicompost bin.

I used an old 5-gallon round water container.  I have lots of those since I sell alkaline water (free plug). It was actually leaking already and resisted our various attempts to seal it.  I sawed it near the top using my high school vintage hacksaw.   Unfortunately, my hacksaw wasn't very cooperative.  The rusted blade snapped.  So I went to a local hardware store (Circle C) to get a blade, but they didn't have any.  I decided to get an entirely new saw.  The new one's called a drywall saw, although I'm not sure what that is.   The saw packaging included a warning that the saw was very sharp.

Once home, I started cutting through the container again.  You won't believe how tough that PET container was.  Flashback a few weeks ago. I was trying to put a hole into a small pot by stabbing the bottom with an icepick.  My aim slipped and I ended up stabbing my left forefinger.  It bled intermittently for several days and was swollen for over a week.  Back to the present, while sawing finishing touches into the 5-gallon container, I ended up sawing the same injured finger!  I guess that settles it.  I am no handyman. 

With all the blood work done, I then tried out the bin.  As you can see, the upper part is bigger and serves perfectly as a lid (it doesn't slide off).  I sealed the mouth with stockings and packing tape.  That ensures aeration but keeps insects out.  I put in a lot of bedding; I've read that bedding should be about 3/4 of the bin.  I changed my mind though.  I'll just intersperse the bedding with the greens.  Since I have frozen pruned leaves and stuff in the freezer, I placed those in the bin with the bedding. Check out my various shots so it gets more visual for you. 
As I mentioned, this was to be an indoor bin.  As of today, I've placed about 4-5 layers of greens and I have to say, there's really no smell.  Then again I left it a little dry since there are no worms yet and it's usually excess moisture that brings about the bad smell. I am thinking I'll be using this for a couple of months.  I won't even hesitate to put onions and citrus since it doesn't have worms yet.   
When it's time to replace the bin, I'll just make a new one.  I have no shortage of containers in bad condition anyway.  As for this one, I'll place it outdoors (but not under the sun) and introduce worms.  I don't think I'll need to wait any further since part of the contents would have partly decomposed already.   Why did I say that?  Well I've read that worms actually eat the "decomposer"  microbes and not so much the actual organic matter.  Therefore, before introducing worms to a bin, leave the wet bedding and the food for about a week or so that microbes can settle in and multiply, thereby providing the worms with food. 
Going back, I will probably just add moisture once in while to make it a good habitat for worms.  I've also read that nothing kills worms faster than a dry environment.  And that's it. My indoor compost container / vermicompost bin.


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