Fair warning – this is gross content. Really gross. Worms. Perfect, wonderful, magical worms. And lots of them.
It’s no secret that worms are immeasurably important for your garden. They fill the dirt with nutrients. They aerate. They add nitrogen. They may have no brain, but they work wonders without. So you can imagine my delight when I turned our compost a few days ago and it was crawling, literally, with worms. Gross. And Great.
Call the kids. Get the camera. A perfectly normal reaction in our house!
There isn’t much to post about worms. So instead, in their honour, a long overdue post about the importance of composting.
Composting is critical to sustainable gardening. It’s also simple – practically fool-proof – and keeps all that valuable “waste” from entering the landfill. Backyard gardeners can choose from an assortment of compost tools – from the cheap and simple homemade pile, to Ferrari composters like Lee Valley’s Rolling composter (http://www.leevalley.com/en/garden/page.aspx?p=47098&cat=2,33140&ap=1). We’ve got a simple barrel with a lid at the top, ventilation throughout and a trap door at the bottom from which to access the compost dirt. It’s served us beautifully and was purchased from the City of Vancouver for $25 (http://vancouver.ca/engsvcs/solidwaste/grownatural/composters.htm). Perfect.
In some cities, including my hometown of Vancouver as of April 22, 2010, kitchen scraps can be recycled through the municipal program along with yard greens. A big kudos to the city for this program. Apparently Vancouver is working towards moving garbage to a bi-weekly pick up and recycling and green waste to weekly pick ups. More kudos!
Finally, vermicompost is a great option for folks with limited space or limited compost needs. We’ve got friends that vermicompost and rave about the process, but as I don’t have a lot of first hand experience here, I’m going to suggest further reading if your intrigued. A great intro is provided at http://organicgardening.about.com/od/compost/ss/setupawormbin.htm
So assuming that you, like me, are backyard gardeners with small compost bins, here’s what you need to know.
To make dirt, your compost pile needs three things:
1. Brown Stuff
2. Green Stuff
3. Air (preferably warm air).
There are loads of detailed how-tos available about the compost process. I’m going to keep it simple. Layer brown stuff (leaves, stems, grass clippings etc) and green stuff (the stuff from your kitchen). Ideally, always cover a layer of green stuff (kitchen) with brown stuff (outside stuff). This avoids having the green stuff rot, get stinky and attract bugs. The tricky part here is that the green stuff then occasionally rots in the collection bin in the kitchen while awaiting transfer. Which is much worse. But if you can find balance, you do get much better results by adding the green and brown layers simultaneously.
Whenever you remember (the more often the better, but I’m culprit to lazy turning) turn the compost pile. This provides the necessary air. For added air, keeners can start compost piles with a layer of sticks at the bottom to allow air flow from below the pile as well. I’ve never tried this but am excited to do so with the next compost pile. Yup, I’m a keener.
Composting will provide you with superb dirt, lots of worms, decreased garden expenses (you won’t need to buy matter to introduce into the garden to keep it healthy) and a green conscious.
That’s it for compost tips from me. For more tips – and they are good ones – check out http://www.compost-info-guide.com/make_better_compost.htm.
Last, but not least, we’ll be building a new compost pile shortly. As regular readers have likely noticed, my posts have been far and few between of late. We’re taking our green gumboot adventures to a new home next month, and are about to launch into a world of green renovations. So it’s been a lot of seed starting, but no planting, or transplanting, or garden plot planning or any of that other spring fun at our house.
But that’s all about to change. Posts will pick up and I’ll keep you abreast of our new garden adventures, and also of our green retrofit. Should be fun!