Archive for the ‘compost’ Category

Step by Step Instructions on how to build your very own Worm Composting Bin. This is a 5 minute project. I completed it in 3 minutes with a cold beer in one hand. You can buy worms locally or from several sources online. I purchased 2lbs of Red Wigglers online for $29.99.

Here’s all you need:
2 Rubbermaid  tubs (or cheap knock-off like these) or some old 5 gal buckets.
2 blocks (in this case a couple 2×4 pieces)
Shredded Paper (I find that worms like bill  collection letters the best)
Kitchen Scraps (no meat or dairy products just veggies)
Crushed egg shells (provide calcium)
Cheerios and coffee grounds (with filter)
Worms (Red Wigglers or Eisenia foetida, are the best compost worms)
Drill (2 bits 1/8″ and 1/4″)

Step 1: Drill 1/8″ holes in the top (for oxygen) and 1/4″ holes in the bottom for worm juices. In 1 tub.


Step 2: Place a couple of 2×4’s (as spaces) in the bottom of the nu-drilled tub. Place Drilled tub on to the spacers, fill drilled tub about a third with shredded paper.


Step 3: Add crushed egg shells (great source of slow release calcium and can also act as a buffer, essentially helping to prevent excessively acidic conditions from developing.) and Cheerios (Worms like Cheerios).


Step 4: Add kitchen scraps (no meat, nothing greasy, no citrus,) veggie scraps and worms.


Step 5: Add some water. Worms like it moist and dark. Drill holes in top and leave em alone. In 90 Days you’ll have the best organic fertilizer and your plants will love you for it.


Interesting Worm Facts:

  • There are over 4,000 species of earthworms.
  • There are only about 6 species that are used for vermicomposting.
  • Earthworms don’t have lungs, but instead breathe through their skin as long as it stays moist.
  • Red Wigglers can consume up to 50% of their body weight per day
  • Earthworms are hermaphrodites yet it still takes two worms to reproduce.
  • Worms don’t have eyes , but are sensitive to light.
  • Worms have no teeth for chewing food. They grind food in their gizzard by muscle action.
  • A worm’s mouth is in the first anterior segment. There is a small protruding lip just over the mouth, called prostomium. When the worm is foraging, this lip is stretching out. The prostomium is for sensing food.
  • You’ll be able to compost your kitchen scraps 10 times faster when compared to composting without them.
  • One pound (16 ounces) of worms equals about 1,000 worms
  • One pound of Red Wiggler worms can eat about half pound of organic matter every day.

Why should you start a Worm Farm?

  • Remove excess waste from landfills & reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Worms produce the best organic fertilizer
  • Worm castings are five times richer in nutrients than the best topsoil and worm castings are pH neutral.
  • Great treats for chickens and great for fishing.
  • Worms make great friends. They just listen to you all day and never interrupt.
  • If you’ve read this far, you’re crazy enough to do it.

What is Vermicomposting?
Worms and microorganisms convert organic materials to a beneficial soil amendment. The worms breakdown food scraps into nutrient rich compost.

Feed Worms:

  • Vegetable scraps
  • Fruit scraps and peels (mold/rot is fine)
  • Bread and grains
  • Coffee grounds (+ filters) and tea bags
  • Crushed egg shells
  • Napkins, paper towels

Don’t Feed Worms:

  • Citrus
  • Meats, fish
  • Greasy foods
  • Dairy products
  • Twigs and branches
  • Dog/cat feces, cat litter

You can leave the bin inside your house (there’s no smell) or you can build up a small army of worms and take over the world or just add them to your compost pile mid-summer. Or even better, start a Worm Farm (like Harry and Lloyd in ‘Dumb & Dumber‘) and call it I Got Worms.

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I would like to thank Formecology’s owner John Gishnock for providing me with this valuable information on Composting and I’d like to give them a plug!

Formecology is born from the idea of combining art and nature – bringing natural elements together with cultural art forms to create landscapes that are appropriate both to the built and natural environment. Formecology is a full service design, build and care firm focusing on environmentally beneficial & regionally inspired landscapes for residential & commercial settings located in Evansville, WI. Please visit their site at: www.formecology.com

What is Compost?
Composting is the biological decomposition of organic material into a humus-like substance called compost. The process occurs naturally, but can be accelerated and improved by controlling environmental factors.

Why Compost?
•Compost is good for plant health
•Preserving nutrients from plant or grass clippings, food scraps and leaves onsite is much better than land filling or allowing them to wash into lakes
•Enhancing texture & water holding ability and adds beneficial microorganisms
•Add slow release nutrients
•Composting can destroy weed seeds & pathogens
•Can be used for erosion control/stabilization too

Each year half of the root system dies and is composted in the soil – Nature working itself!

Where should I put a compost site?

•Have a landscape plan !
•Keep it in your garden (you’re more likely to use it if it’s close by)
•Site to avoid views/smells
•Consider screening from neighbor’s
•Proximity to a water source (rain barrel perhaps)

•Proximity to application area (gardens/lawn)
•Keep close to kitchen for kitchen scraps (or store in smaller container to bring out periodically)
•Have some storage space available for extra materials (leaves, straw, etc)

Choose a level area with :
•Access to rainfall
•Good drainage & airflow
•Indirect sunlight (full sun can dry the pile and some sun helps dry a wet pile)
•Shelter from drying winds

What size should a compost pile be?
•The perfect size for a compost pile is one that is at least 3′ x 3′ x 3′. It’s not only a manageable size to turn, but it’s ideal for retaining heat while still allowing air flow.
•Plan for 10 square feet or more

•Smaller compost piles will still decompose material, but they may not heat up as well, and decomposition is likely to take longer

To create good compost you need:

•Ingredients (carbon source, nitrogen source, oxygen, water)
•Microorganisms – bacteria, fungi, actinomycetes, rotifers, protozoa
•Macro-organisms (worms, insects, etc) can help aerate, break down materials, etc.. (These both generally come on there own)
•Heat (generated by decomposition)
•A thermometer (20” compost or kitchen thermometer )
•Pitch fork or shovel

Components include proper ratio of:

•Nitrogen-rich items – Green/multi-colored, wet Lawn clippings, veggie scraps, etc
•Carbon-rich Items
• Brown in color, dry Leaves, straw, etc
•Soil and fertilizer/ inoculants (if desired)

Carbon & Nitrogen Ratio

•Ideal ratio is about 25 -30 parts Carbon to 1 part Nitrogen.
•If too much carbon, decomposition will be very slow.
•If too much nitrogen it will smell.

Do not include:

•Fats/oils. (meat, dairy, grease etc)
•Potential pathogens (pet droppings)
•Potential toxins / pesticide residue
•Ashes or other strongly acidic/ basic materials
• Large materials (branches, chunks of sod, etc)
• Plants that have been treated with pesticides and/or herbicides (weeds and lawn clippings) should be avoided.
Layers like lasagna
The Heat is On or The H is O

•Proper heat (135-160 degrees) is important to speed the process and kill weed seeds/ pathogens
•If temperatures get too high the beneficial microorganisms are killed.
•Measure temperature at center of pile using a thermometer (20“ composting thermometer or just a turkey thermometer)
•When the temperature reaches 155°F, turn pile to mix & aerate

•Turn again in a day or two when pile reaches 155°F again
•Plan on turning the pile every day or two when it reaches 155° to keep temperatures in appropriate range
•After the first week to 10 days temperatures will moderate & pile should be turned less than 1x per week.
•After 15-20 weeks the compost will be done.
•The center of the pile will be slightly warm and original ingredients will be indistinguishable.

Compost Tips:

•Shredding materials provides more surface area and encourages faster decomposition.
•Mixing/Aerating the pile with a pitchfork or using a tumbling system ensures adequate oxygen.

•Adequate moisture is important- you should be able to squeeze a small amt. of moisture out but it shouldn’t be wet.
•Let the microorganisms & macrorganisms do the work
•Worms love coffee grounds!
•Compost piles should remain damp but not too wet. As you build your compost pile, make sure that each layer is moist as it is added. The surface should also remain damp (think of a wrung out sponge), especially during the summer months.
•Soak finished compost in water to “brew” compost “tea,” a nutrient-rich liquid that can be used for foliar feeding or for watering plants in your garden, backyard, or houseplants.
•For faster results, use a compost turner every two weeks to aerate your pile.

Thanks again:

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