Worm your way into a healthy world
By Reta Stickwood
Do you launder in cold water, carry cloth bags instead
of plastic, poop 'n scoop and recycle? Have you changed
every light bulb in your home to a compact fluorescent to
save energy for the environment? Have you asked yourself
what else you can do? Compost!
Yes, everyone can compost vegetable kitchen waste in
the home, be it in suburbia or an urban apartment, by vermicomposting.
Specialized red wiggler worms are hardworking
composters that eat and expel their own weight
in organic material every day. They will ingest chopped
up vegetable and fruit peelings, coffee grounds and filters,
tea bags, plant cuttings, cooked pasta and rice,
crushed egg shells, paper egg cartons. and shredded
Vermicomposting benefits us by minimizing curb-side
garbage. When you consider that approximately one third of our household waste is organic matter, our part
in reducing landfill is significant.
The by-product from the compost is a nutrient-rich,
earth-like substance referred to as vermicastings. You
can use this nitrogen-rich, natural organic fertilizer on
your houseplants and/or flower beds.
Many people are afraid of the quiet red wigglers, but
they have been on the earth for millions of years, creating
the fertile top soil on our fields and in our forests.
They live 15 to 30 cm underground and digest decomposing
Where would you keep them? Depending upon the
size of composting operation you want, they can be under your kitchen sink, in a closet or in your garage -
preferably in a dark place. Next to the washer and dryer
is not ideal, as vibration disturbs them. They will stay in
their bin because they do not like light.
A plastic bin with a sealed lid is a good start. Google
"City of Vaughan" and vermicomposting, and you'll find
bin sizes for the size of your family with instructions on
how to set them up. To start, the bedding could be made
from leaves, straw, shredded paper (non-glossy) or
shredded paper coffee trays and egg cartons. Some earth
from a flower bed or other source is important, as it aids
the worms in digesting their food. Add two to three litres
of water and mix it with the dry matter, moistening it to
the consistency of a damp sponge.
Your bin should be at lest half full of damp material.
Two tablespoons of agricultural lime or crushed egg
shells sweeten the acidity in the food scraps, which are
digested faster if chopped fine or juiced.
Is it smelly? Bury the food deep into the bedding, and
there should be only a damp earthy smell when you lift
Where can you get the worms? Look on the Internet
at www.cityfarmer.org for a list of suppliers from all
over Canada. (The link to "Worm Suppliers" is partway
down the main page.) The closest to Toronto is
www .cathyscomposters.com in Bradford.
Quietly and without complaint, the wigglers work hard
to make this world a better place. Let's make it our mission
to create more pure organic earth with them.
Back to Articles