So you have your seeds, now what? Has your soil become deplete
of nutrients? Do you have patchy spots where nothing will grow?
These dead zones may be the result of chemical fertilizers. Most
commercial fertilizers feed the plant but damage the soil. Plants
require living soil to thrive year after year. No need to add
toxic chemical s to kill what you don't want. Return the biology
back into the soil and plants will prosper naturally. Compost
naturally restores life in the soil.
Composting is a wonderful way to reduce your ecological footprint
and produce a natural soil amendment for lawns and gardens. It
is estimated that the average Canadian household produces one
tonne of organic waste per year. Imagine if every family started
to compost, the volume of material going to landfill would be
A natural process, composting converts organic matter into a
soil enhancer called humus. Kitchen scraps, leaves and
yard waste are excellent compostable materials that will transform
your garden into a healthy, sustainable environment.
The recipe for composting is simple; a good carbon:nitrogen
mix, a little soil, water and air. Successful composting is as
easy as combining layers. Add a layer of carbon (brown materials
- dried leaves, brown grass or even shredded paper), then add
a layer of nitrogen (green materials - fruit/vegetable scraps,
plant cuttings). Composting is an aerobic process, meaning with
oxygen, therefore the pile should be aerated or turned at least
once a week to allow air to circulate. Water may be required to
ensure that the pile remains moist. If the compost pile dries
out, all activity stops. If possible, place composter in a sunny
location to encourage the thermophilic or heating up process to
Composting has many benefits:
· Rebuilds soil structure
· Reduce chemical fertilizer/pesticide use – saves
money · Returns essential nutrients back to the soil
· Reduces the volume of material going to landfill
· Enhances food security by closing the food loop
· Estimated 1/3 of the total waste stream can be composted
To increase the rate of composting, consider adding composting
worms such as Red Wigglers to the pile. These wonders of nature
not only speed up the process, they aerate the pile naturally,
and add valuable nutrients to the finished compost. Red Wigglers
eat half their weight daily in organic matter. Therefore, one
pound of worms can consume 3 - 4 pounds of organic matter weekly.
Worm composting or vermicomposting is an excellent alternative
for those that do not have the space to do backyard composting
or access to an organic collection program. As vermicomposting
is done indoor, composting continues throughout the year. Worms
turn organic material into nutrient rich worm manure or “worm
Worm castings are recognized world-wide by organic farmers and
gardeners as one of the best ways to increase biodiversity in
our soil. Worm castings act like time-released capsules that spread
nutrients slowly over a period of time. You would be hard pressed
to find anything that will add more essential nutrients to your
soil than worm compost.
There are three main components to successful worm composting:
temperature, air circulation and moisture content. The optimum
temperature is between 16 - 26C (60 - 80F). Worm composting is
an aerobic (with oxygen) process, so air holes in the worm bin
are essential. Worms are about 90% moisture therefore they require
a fairly moist environment. The bedding that the worms live in
should be the consistency of a wrung out sponge. Moist, but not
soggy no liquid should drip out.
A worm bin in the classroom offers a tremendous cross-curricular
learning opportunity and is an excellent way to get children interested
in the environment. Worms can help children learn what happens
to organic ‘garbage’. They watch the worms magically
convert their food scraps and paper into soil. They learn that
worm compost can be used to grow food and make plants grow better.
Post secondary students discover the global role worms will play
as well as hear about life as an entrepreneur in a sustainable
Any container will do for worm composting. It is creating the
right environment for the worms to thrive. With a basic container,
the worms and worm compost are separated manually. This is done
2 - 3 times per year. The easiest way to harvest a basic kit is
the "dump and sort" method. The contents are emptied
onto a plastic sheet and placed in small round piles under a bright
light. The worms go down into the pile to escape from the light.
The castings are removed. Once the worms and castings have been
separated, the worms are added ba ck into the bin with fresh bedding
to continue the process. The castings are used to nourish plants
and add life back into the soil.
worm chalet is a deluxe, layered vermicomposting system made in
Ontario. The chalet removes the need to harvest manually and easily
manages excess moisture. When one tray fills up, a second tray
is added on top, the worms migrate up to the next level. It is
about 6 - 8 months for the first full cycle. Then every couple
of months, another tray of "black gold" aka worm castings
is ready. Moisture is easily managed with the chalet as there
is a spigot at the bottom to drain off excess fluid.
Worms are going to play an ever-increasing role in waste management,
soil production and therefore food security. Vermicomposting is
a hopeful solution that can be done by anyone, anywhere and can
help mitigate some of the effects that our rotting waste has on
climate change. Learn all about worms and vermicomposting - a
viable solution for on - site management of food scraps and paper.
For more information on how to get worms for your home, school
or business, visit www.cathyscomposters.com or call 1-888-775-9495.
Follow us on Twitter @Squirm. Be sure to watch Cathy’s TEDx
Talk – The Wonderful World of Worms, the unsung heroes on
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