Brandon writes: Worm farmer, now or later

Studying environmental management makes me acutely aware of the trouble us humans cause on earth, messing up just about everything we can get our hands on. BUT there is one thing we cannot mess up; our bodies continue to be biodegradable. Worms and millions of other little critters are just waiting to dine on us when we finally expire. While the junk we bought and built will go on polluting for centuries, at least our bodies — with the exception of breast implants, knee replacements, and other medical gadgets — will go back to the soil to feed the earth and join the beautiful cycle of life.

I have grown to love worms. Rather than feeding on me though, right now they are feeding on my garbage, the food, compost that I would otherwise throw in the trash bin. Generally speaking, in the US 60% of our waste is recyclable, 30% is compostable and just 10% is true waste. We Americans throw out an average of 4.5 pounds of garbage a day, and 3 pounds of that wet heavy garbage is actually compostable, great high quality worm food.

A well maintained worm composting bin can be kept inside your home and will not smell. When you lift the lid you will smell only dark rich earthy soil. You won’t have just worms in your bin, after a short time other critters grow in there too, making up a complex food web that will rapidly decompose your food and even fiber, like shredded junk mail.

Feeding my worms junk mail and other printed fiber has raised an issue. After a year of feeding them this fifty-fifty mix of food and fiber the composting bin now has a thick layer of beautiful rich black soil. I was planning to start growing some herbs in a small indoor garden and I realized today that my soil may be super rich in organic matter but it may also have some heavy metals used in the inks on the paper I fed the worms. Case in point, nature grew all the food I ate and the remaining peels and skins are compostable, then when we humans try to make something as simple as paper we just disgrace a perfect system with all our technology.

Well, from now on I feed my worms only what I would enjoy eating. Because one day I will eat the herbs and plants I grow in their pure soil. And when I finally “buy the farm”, the worm farm in the ground that is, and the worms come to dine on me, instead of tasting like junk mail I will taste like fresh herbs.

If you are thinking to start a composting bin at home, simply search the web for the key words “worm bin” or “vermicomposting” and if you need further advice just send me your questions in the comments field below.

2 Comments

  1. Mina McBride
    Posted December 6, 2009 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Brandon,
    I love your posts-they are written with such wit. Thanks for the information on vermicomposting. I have always wondered if it was possible to compost in a mostly closed container (like the plastic bins) without winding up with some smelly mess. I hope studying environmental management continues to go well for you. Keep blogging!

    • Posted December 7, 2009 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

      Yay! Thank you Mina! Your comment came at the perfect time. I have a 20 page school paper on composting to finish in the next 23 hours and you just gave me a huge confidence boost 🙂

      Feel free to email me if you want to know more about composting: bwelti@gmail.com

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