Of all the changes I’ve made for the Riot, the one that gets the most attention from people I tell about the reduction, by far, is the worm bin. I think it’s partly because people usually try to get bugs out of their house, and part because I doubt anyone who knew me would figure me for the type to keep worms. Many people are interested in the process of using a worm bin, including how the hell you go from rotting food to compost. I’m still trial-and-error-ing my way through the last part, but I think I have an ok handle on the day-to-day. At least, I can say categorically that I still have a shit-ton of worms, egg sacs galore, a jar full of vermicompost tea on my kitchen counter, and I’ve been able to pull a decent amount of compost from the first bin, although my method of doing so has been a colossal pain in the ass.
So this is how I did it.
I ordered my bin from the Worm Woman. I got the model 7002, which came with a copy of Worms Eat My Garbage, as well as a box of wormins. Worms Eat My Garbage is your number 1 source for vermicomposting information, and the folks at Flowerfield Enterprises are fantastically nice. I highly recommend getting a bin from them if you are in the market. Lots of people make their own but I’m terrible at following instructions and clumsy to boot so I figured this was safer. In hindsight, I would have gotten the larger bin. CSA time makes a whole bunch of food scrap, as does having a kid. I imagine it will only get worse when Chico is on solids regularly.
Our package was waiting for us when we arrived home from vacation so it was a bit of a rush to set it up. I was totally freaked out I had done it wrong and was going to wake up the next morning to a worm massacre, but apparently worms are pretty hearty little dudes. Alls I did was rip up some newspaper from the recycling room, mix with water, work in some soil and toss the worms in. Gently, of course.
You can start adding in food in the next day or so. Let the worms get acclimated, find a good spot for the bin, stuff like that. I have mine next to Lucy’s desk in the dining room. The second is close by. This way I can run the scraps in from the kitchen next door. I’d love to have the bin in the kitchen but there is just no space.
I keep my scraps in old take-out containers, I do not chop it up or do anything to it. I do keep the containers in the fridge after we had a bout of fruit fly infestation last summer. For a while, I weighed and kept track of where I buried the scraps but after a while I just started eyeballing where there was space and tossing in bedding (packing paper, newspaper, paper bags) whenever it looked like it was getting too sloppy wet. About a month before I had Chico, I stopped putting food in one half of the bin and then a few days before I had him I started trying to scoop out bits of the compost. This was a huge pain, but I’m not hip to touching worms. It took forever and barely made a dent in the amount of crap in the bin.
After Chico was born, the bin went untouched for about a month-six weeks. I was sure that would be the end of the worms, but they survived. I scooped out some more poop and switched feeding sides. And then, a week or so ago, I got the second bin.
Bedding was set up, worms were moved, and we’re feeding in the second bin now. I did a heavier duty scoop out of the first bin, finding there was still a lot of uneaten food mixed in with the vermicompost, as well as big puddles of ‘worm tea’ in the bottom which I scooped out and into the aforementioned jar. I think I’m going to have to break down and dump it all out to sort, which I am dreading. I need the 2 bins, though, to keep scraps from ending up in the trash. And I need the compost, as I am finally planting my seedlings.
Anyway. I find the worm bin to be super-easy aside from the ‘harvest’ of the worm poop, which is probably easier than I am making it. Much of our food scrap is plant-based so it has definitely reduced our trash a bit. The second bin should take it down a lot more.
I should mention, though, that my only indication that I am doing anything right is that my worms are multiplying like crazy. I have not done a particularly good job at following instructions or even looking at instructions. I have read about other people having much more trouble with their bins than I have had with mine. I am no expert. But seriously, it’s been beyond easy for me. And Lucy can help, which makes it educational too!
some of the stuff I feed to the worms: any fruit or veg that falls on the floor, lots of apple cores and banana peels, wilty greens, carrot ends and peelings, coffee grounds and tea leaves/bags, paper towels that haven’t touched cleaning product/animal product, eggshells, dead leaves and flowers from houseplants, melon rinds (the worms love melon. a lot.) I do not put bread product in because it’s the only thing I’ve seen grow mold in the bin. That was the only thing I had a problem with, plus a little bit of moisture draining from the side vent that wiped right up. There’s no smell, no bugs, no worms escaping, no nothing. And the worms don’t care if you think they’re gross as long as you keep feeding them 🙂
I was going to take pictures but I have a big teething monster-baby who no longer wants to be put down because whenever he is some mean baby throws all of his toys onto the floor. I mastered the kangaroo carry with the pouch last night but for some reason can’t do it this morning. sigh.