Further Adventures in Vermi-Composting

The following article is by guest contributor by Lynda Sturgeoff. Lynda Sturgeoff, a retired Ph.D. chemist, now spends her time volunteering for various organizations where her knowledge of science and her passion for the environment can be of most service. In between Zoom meetings, continuous learning, gardening and grandchildren, she still finds some time for writing.

This is Lynda’s second article on vermi-composting. Read her first article here.

We’ve been vermi-composting for about a year now. What is that you say? Vermi-composting is a bit like the composting of produce and garden scraps that you might do in your outdoor garden. But vermi-composting is done indoors. If you’re a regular reader you might recall I wrote about our first weeks of vermi-composting last year. The old plastic bins we’d had in the garden fell to pieces. And before that they were magnets for the local racoons, mice and other creatures. I know, I know, the experts say that shouldn’t happen. What can I say?

So we decided to give indoor composting a try. We obtained a nice-looking set of boxes from The Box of Life in Ottawa. Vermi-composting uses little worms called red wrigglers. Andrea from the Halton Environmental Network kindly gave us our starter worms plus a bonus of sow bugs. These were added to the bottom box on top of a bedding of damp, shredded paper. We covered them with more damp, shredded paper. Once the critters had settled in for a couple of days we started to feed them. What can you put in an indoor composter? Pretty much the same food scraps as you put in an outdoor composter. The red wrigglers and sow bugs like fruit and vegetable scraps – though not a lot of citrus – eggshells, coffee grounds and tea leaves. But no meat, fish, dairy and not a lot of carbs. Actually that sounds pretty much like my own diet, though I do eat a bit of meat, fish and dairy.

We give them two or three cups of food scraps every week, mixed with shredded paper. If the food scraps are dry, we’ll spritz them with room temperature water. Now that the compost is well established, we no longer blend up the food scraps. We simply make sure there aren’t any large pieces. Neither red wrigglers nor sow bugs have teeth after all. We generally put our scraps into the freezer for a few days. That softens everything up enough.

We’ve now added a second box on top of the bottom box and our little pets are slowly migrating upward. The compost in the bottom box is lovely – dark brown with a smell like damp earth. We’ll just leave it, though, un0l we’ve filled a third box. Then we’ll empty the finished compost from the bottom box and stack in on top.

And what will we do with all that compost? Well it’s an excellent addition to anything we want to grow – our summer herbs and vegetables, even our indoor potted plants. If you want to be a gardener you start by cultivating the soil and the very best thing for that is compost!

So one year later what do I think of vermi-composting? It’s a fantastic way to compost – no smell, no muss, no racoons, no mice. Just beautiful worms and sowbugs that stay right where they belong. And beautiful compost too.