The month of November can be puzzling for folks with families learning to garden. With the weather starting to turn cold, wet and gay again, long periods of time outside seem less enticing.
Visually, the vegetable garden appears to have less going on. However, November is a great time to begin composting your kitchen waste.
There are many methods and devices that you can employ to compost your food waste at home. Popular methods of composting are digestion, burial or tossing your scraps in your curbside collection bin, but for the gardening family, none offers more fun and excitement than a worm bin.
Unlike other food-waste composting methods, worm bins allow decomposition to happen above ground. All the biological processes and fauna of composting can be easily observed in a worm bin, and the vermicompost that a worm bin produces is practically ambrosia for houseplants or seeds in need of a starting medium.
One challenge many families face is ensuring that their worm bin will be able to accommodate all the food waste they generate. This is a great educational opportunity for a mini “waste audit.”
Collect all organic scraps that your family generates, and separate it from the rest of the waste for one week. Place them into a few quart-sized yogurt containers with lids in the refrigerator marked with a big “X.” Weigh out the collected scraps.
The golden rule for worm bin processing is 1 pound of food waste per 1 square foot of container per one week. So if your family generates 12 pounds of food waste in a week, you’ll need a bin that has a floor plan of 12 square feet.
There are worm bins available on the market and plans available on-line.
You can construct multiple bins to meet your needs, or put some of your food scraps in your worm bin and the rest in your curbside collection bin. Both approaches are good for the environment.
To get started, set your worm bin in a site that will neither be too warm or too cold, depending on the season. If you are placing it outside, make sure you can protect it from marauding raccoons, possums and rats, and if you live in bear country, consider an indoor space like a basement or garage for safekeeping.
Bed the bin with moistened leaves from your garden trees or shredded newspaper (do not use shiny, colored inserts).
Add red worms (Eisenia foetida)
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