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Cathy's Crawly Composters - Vermicomposting

Cathy's Crawly Composters

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York Region Food Network

Fall - 2004

Composting completes the growing cycle ...
By Cathy Nesbitt, Worm Advocate

Composting is a natural process that transforms organic waste into a soil enhancer called humus. Kitchen scraps, leaves, and yard waste are excellent compostable materials. Composting helps maintain a healthy, sustainable environment.

Composting is a simple process that also helps the environment. Successful composting is as easy as adding layers. Composting requires a carbon:nitrogen mix, moisture and air circulation. Add a layer of brown material (carbon comes from dried leaves, brown grass or even shredded paper), then add a layer of green material (nitrogen comes from fruit/vegetable scraps, plant cuttings). The pile should be aerated or turned once a week to allow air to circulate. Water may be required to ensure that the pile remains moist. If the compost pile dries out, all activity stops. If possible, place composter in a sunny location.

Composting has many benefits:

  • Reduces the volume of material going to landfill.
  • Recovers a valuable resource. Estimated 1/3 of the total waste stream can be composted!
  • Produces a natural soil enhancer - increased crop production!
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Organics combined with landfill material creates gas emissions.
  • Reduces necessity for chemical additives - fertilizers and pesticides - saves money.
  • Returns nutrients back to the soil.

To increase the rate of composting, consider adding worms such as Red Wigglers to the pile. These wonders of nature not only speed up the process, they aerate the pile, and add valuable nutrients to the finished compost. Red Wigglers eat half their weight daily in organic matter. Therefore, 1 lb. of worms can consume 3-4 lbs. of organic matter weekly.

Vermicomposting is an excellent alternative for those that do not have the space to do traditional backyard composting. As vermicomposting can be practiced indoors, composting continues throughout the year. Worms turn organic material into nutrient rich castings. Worm castings are recognized as one of nature's finest organic fertilizers. Less dependence on chemical fertilizers will not only save money but will also benefit the environment.

There are three main components to successful vermicomposting: temperature, air circulation and moisture content. The optimum temperature is between 16-26C (60-80F). Worm composting is an aerobic process meaning "with oxygen", so air holes in the bin are essential. Worms are approximately 90% moisture so they require a fairly moist environment. The bedding should be the consistency of a wrung out sponge.

Worm composting is an excellent way to get children interested in the environment. Worms are working pets that can help your children understand worm behaviour by seeing organic matter magically converted into soil. Why not employ these wonderful workers who work for food scraps?

"If we used all of nature's resources except earthworms to produce topsoil, it would take 100-150 years to produce one single inch! Bring back the earthworms, and it only takes one year to produce that inch."
The Worm Book - Loren Nancarrow & Janet Hogan Taylor.

For more information on ways to reduce your garbage or to arrange a demonstration visit www.cathyscomposters.com call Local: (905) 775-9495
Toll Free: 1-888-775-9495

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Cathy's Crawly Composters

Bradford, Ontario
Local: (905) 775-9495
Toll Free: 1-888-775-9495
email: cathy@cathyscomposters.com