19 February 2009

And so it begins

I had a bin. I had my worms. I had organic waste overflowing a fabulously aerated bin under my kitchen sink. I had a family used to collecting organic waste for outdoor composting. I had moistened bedding in the first working layer. Time to put it all together.

This picture shows the coir bedding in the bottom working tray (dark brown) with the lighter brown bedding that came with the worms, and the worms themselves (kind of pinkish -- the "red" part of the name does not seem to hold out so far).

This picture shows the bottom working tray with the wet newspaper on top. Underneath, I put a bin full of organic waste from the kitchen: banana peels, peanut shells, grapefruit rinds, coffee grounds & filter, egg shells, bread, shreddings from various vegetables, and possibly some fuff from the dryer. I put all of this is a thin layer right over the worms/bedding, and covered the whole mass with wet newspaper.

I'm not sure about the dryer fuff. I compost that all the time in my outdoor bin, but I don't know if worms will like it. Other things worm might like: cereal, cake, cheese*, lemon, onion peel (not the onion itself), pizza crust, potatoes, potato salad, tea bags, and all kinds of spoiled food from the refrigerator. Too much citrus could kill the worms; I'm also leery of dairy, like cheese*, for odor issues. Meat doesn't generally go in a home vermicomposter due to odor issues and also the possibility of attracting unwanted tenants (wanted tenants, I'll mention those as I find them).

For my husband and kids -- here's a list of what DOESN'T go in the bin: things that don't decompose (like rubber bands, staples, sponges or aluminum foil).

Also animal waste doesn't generally go in -- definitely not from cats and dogs. Guinea pigs, of which we have three, are a different matter. We use recycled paper nuggets for bedding for the guinea pigs, and this seems like a perfect "brown" material for the vermicompost -- and how cool to get even more use from this already recycled and peed upon material. Also, cavy (aka guinea pig) droppings are small and dry, and even when... wet... odorless. And these animals are vegetarians, which avoids the unwanted-tenants-attracted-by-meat-poop problem.

Although my favorite worm composting book, Worms Eat My Garbage, by Mary Appelhof, didn't specifically mention guinea pig droppings, I think they're ok to use. I googled "vermicomposting" and "guinea pig bedding" and generally got the thumbs up from other vermicomposting-people. I don't think I'll use it though -- I've got a bag of shredded financial documents already in line in the laundry room by the Can-O, and I'll go through that first.

Here's Tonks, cavy extraordinaire, in his (unwelcome) Christmas gift -- a harness and leash.


Anonymous said...

That harness is killing me. Our rabbits slipped out of theirs immediately. How do you get him (her?) to stay in it?

JenGreen said...

Tonks and Peanut stayed in their harnesses on and off for an afternoon -- but now they're terrified of them! (Petey was too fat to fit.)

Lilli said...

I have been vermicomposting for a few years now- it doesn't take much time and is quite the conversation starter!

JenGreen said...

Lilli -- it is a conversation starter, isn't it? It's such an easy thing to integrate into the house, but at the same time, it seems so foreign to people. What type of bin do you have?