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Cathy's Crawly Composters - Vermicomposting

Cathy's Crawly Composters

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Metroland Newspapers

September 2007


1 lb. of Worms. Photo by Rick Nesbitt
Vermicomposting

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 paper.

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 plant matter.

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 the lid.

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.

 

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Cathy's Crawly Composters

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