Waste Recycling

Compost

Description:  The compost bin will be used to convert much of our yard waste into beautiful, black, humusy goodness.  Built of 4 pallets tied together, it has about 27cf of volume.  Pallet construction allows for good aeration, but the slats allow the compost to dry quickly.  Also, because there is no lid, rain can be a problem and require covering with bin-lids.  While we have had pests in the past, I think that the neighborhood cats have scared/eaten them away.

Updates:

  • We need a second bin! The compost is turning out beautiful, although it is more of a worm bin at the moment.  I need to construct a second bin to allow this one to finish so we can use it.  I’m thinking of either: building another pallet bin next to the chicken coop OR building a rotating-drum compost.  I think for now, we will build another pallet bin and save the drum for the future.
  • We got chickens! Chicken waste + straw will be added directly to the compost.  This means that many kitchen scraps (except for what the chickens don’t use) will not be going directly into the bin.

Vermicompost

Description:  Vermicompost is an alternative form of composting using a specific type of worms.  Red-wigglers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eisenia_fetida), a breed of worm optimized for eating the same food we do in similar environmental conditions whose poop is amazingly fertile, turn most kitchen scraps into what’s known as worm casings. Recently, it’s been discovered that the worms do not, in general, eat the food scraps directly, but munch on the microorganisms that do.  This means that letting the food sit for a few days prior to adding it to the bin give them a boost.  Worms will eat about their weight in food scraps per week and multiply quickly, doubling their numbers within months.

Updates:

  • Round 1 of this experiment died several weeks ago.  I discovered a wet, stinky mess with very few worms of any kind left.  Learning from this?
    • Don’t put too much bread/grains in the bin or else we’ll get lots and lots of white/pot worms.  While these can serve as excellent fish food, until I get the aquaponics up and running, they won’t be necessary.
    • I’m pretty sure that the reason the system died was from massive overfeeding and too much moisture.
  • Round 2 seems to be doing wonderfully and smells delicious.  I need to start measuring how much waste we produce so that I can feed them appropriately.  It seems to help to provide a lot of torn newspaper bedding on each feeding to keep the system moist-but not soaking.
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