Saturday, November 14, 2009

GREEN LIVING: Composting Made Easier - The Coolness of a Worm Farm

By Tracey J Smith

Retailers are now selling in-house composters that speed up the composting process by heating the materials. Picture a kitchen appliance that you plug without the smell which spits out usable compost in 14 days. Now, I don't know about the environmental benefit of using electricity to speed up composting, but the reports on these devices seems to say the cost of electricity to run them is about 50 cents per month. I still favour the outdoor method.

Now, the hard part about composting is that there is a chemical science behind the ratio of nitrogen and carbon (the ratio of veggie bits to leaves for example). The typical time to get good compost is several months up to a year and one must make the effort to occasionally move the material. One recent innovation in this area which claims to speed up the process is a spherical ball with aeration holes that stays on a stand in your yard elevated slightly above the ground. For mixing, just roll the ball around in the yard a bit and roll it back onto the stand.

If you're ok with worms, there are a variety of worm factories which consist of layering trays of worms and material to be composted. I think you will find worms to be quite efficient. Did you know you can buy worms online?

Most of the devices sell anywhere from $59 to about $300. I think some cool worms would be worth if for $100, but what happens when I travel and don't feed to worms for a while, hmmm, do I ask the neighbours to worm-sit?

Tips for a good compost process:

  • The finer your shred the waste material, the faster it will decompose.
  • Add water to dry material.
  • Turn the material in your bin often.
  • Try to have a carbon to nitrogen ratio around 30:1 (for example 30 times as many leaves as green kitchen waste).
Note: Check local subsidies in your area and some municipalities have subsidized compost programs.

Tracey J Smith is an author for You can receive notification of new articles by following "envsummary" on Twitter or find us on FaceBook under "Environmental Summary"

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