Friday, September 16, 2011

Why I Want Worms

By Amy Baranski

Last night we attended a free program in Victor Steinbruck Park on composting for apartment dwellers. The program, cosponsored by Seattle Parks and Recreation and Seattle Tilth, focused on worm bins, a composting system with a small footprint.
Building the bin.

I've been interested in creating a compost system for my apartment, as I currently dispose of organic matter (mostly food scraps) by dumping them into the building's yard waste container located in the alley. The city collects the waste and transports it to Cedar Grove. Cedar Grove, in turn, creates compost, used by Seattle City Parks, and customers, like myself, who can purchase it for use in home gardens. So, I'm buying the same food twice just in two different forms.

Creating a worm bin renegotiates this system, and ultimately amortizes the original cost of my food purchases, as well as the start-up worm bin cost. I get nutrients for myself, first, and then my plants get their nutrients all from the same original veggies and fruits. Presto!

Ashes to Ashes Soil to Soil

Worms basically macerate the food scrapes you feed them. Gritty particles of sand or soil combined with enzymes in their gizzards break down the food waste particles they consume. These then travel through the worm's digestive system and become worm castings--worm poop! The worm castings can be used in your garden. Garden gold they call it.

The bottom bin catches worm tea.
The instructors at Seattle Tilth said worm castings go farther than regular compost because they contain more nutrients. This means you can use less worm castings per square inch of your garden than you would compost. This process produces another useful byproduct: worm-castings tea, this is worm poop in liquid form.

Lucky for us, we got to smell both byproducts last night. The worm poop smelled like soil. The tea did not smell. Which brings me to another point. The worm bin can be used indoors because if done correctly they don't stink.

Worm tea anyone?
So why not keep some of your food scraps a little longer and let them work for you?

Building the Bin is a Cinch

The great part about this composting class, similar to the Canning 101 workshop we previously attended at Madison Market, was that worked together to build a worm bin. It was done in under an hour.

Seattle Tilth provided instructions on materials, assemblage, usage, and how to mitigate problems with the worm bin should they arise. I've included their instruction sheets in the resources links below.

Now I just need to gather all the materials and tools and find a friend with extra worms to spare.

Free Resources

1 comment:

Bob Redmond said...

Hey that's some savvy economic voodoo you just laid down... can't wait til the worm pooping machine is installed in our kitchen drawer, and comes back to us in the stir-fry! Really!