Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Here’s a Quick Way to Harvest Vermicompost

Worm composting is an easy way to compost food waste indoors without taking up too much space. But harvesting the vermicompost has always been labor intensive- until now.

This little trick was developed by a local teacher (always masters of innovation) who has a worm bin in her classroom.

Step One
Get a mesh bag like the kind used to hold oranges or onions in the grocery store.

Step Two
Eat the oranges or the onions and then fill the mesh bag with a generous amount of yummy-to-worms food scraps, like apple cores and banana peels.

Step Three
Bury the bag in your worm bin and wait a week or two. Don’t feed the worms anything else during this time. They will be drawn to the food in the bag.

Step Four
Pull the bag out and see the wormy goodness. Check out this video to see all the worms we attracted.

Squirmy Wormy Composters

Step Five
Move the worms into a new worm bin. There will still be some worms in the old bin so you can do the bag trick again until all the worms have been relocated to their new “digs.”

What’s left behind? Amazing, nutrient rich, vermicompost.

If you don’t have a spare worm bin, you can create a temporary holding container for the worms that is moist and dark. Then pick a sunny day, find a tarp, and head outside to mound the remaining vermicompost into small cone-shaped piles. The worms will move to the bottom of the cones and you can scoop the compost off the top.

Make sure all of your worms are separated before using the finished vermicompost outside so you don’t introduce an alien species in your yard. Let me know in the comments if you have any other tricks for vermicomposting.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Smashing Pumpkins

Halloween is the best holiday of the year. Okay, in my opinion it’s the best. I mean, what could be better than wearing costumes while eating candy and celebrating spiders, zombies and all things “scary”? But now that the spooky fun has past, it is time to retire the old, drooping jack o’ lantern to the compost bin.

The most important part of composting pumpkins is in the title of this post, and it has nothing to do with Billy Corgan. Pumpkins can be quite bulky (especially if you have multiple jack o’ lanterns like me) so we need to condense the size by smashing them up. A great way to relieve stress and a fun activity for the whole family.

Here are some ideas for ways to smash pumpkins:

• Stomping on them (wear old shoes!)
• Thumping them with a mallet
• Stabbing them with a shovel
• Throwing them against the wall

Pumpkins add valuable water and nitrogen to your pile at a time when it is mostly dry leaves. Just be sure to remove the candle before tossing the smashed pumpkin bits in the bin.

If you'd like to smash your pumpkin in public, go to Mt. Washington's annual Pumpkin Chuck this weekend:

For 18 other great tips on how to recycle your pumpkin check out the Metro DC Lawn and Garden Blog.

Next, I guess I should also take care of those “decorative” cobwebs around my house.