the Kitchen Sink Composting
By Jay North
Now saving the planet is as easy
Everyone with a kitchen can compost
Composting can make you a ready
supply of lovely organic planting medium, and has the added
benefit of reducing the garbage one normally has to take out.
You can buy kits to make your own compost under the kitchen
sink, but they are very easy to make yourself.
I highly recommend using worms
to make your planting medium. I can hear you! No it is not icky!
Stick with me for a moment, without the aid of worms, vegetable
matter is just too slow breaking down to be useful for inside
the house. Red worms are best, but I have used night crawlers,
even though they are not recommended. Yep, if you know the rules
you can break them as you please, same as I do in just about
everything I do; just ask any of my friends. I also had red
worms at the same time as the crawlers. I fed the crawlers less,
because I was growing the worms, not the soil and they were
fewer. If you have a person in the family who loves to fish
they will be delighted with these. You can buy worms from your
local fishing tackle house or order them by mail or over the
Internet. Look on my site for a list of suppliers: www.GoingOrganic.com
To make your(compost) worm bin
you need a good quality plastic or Styrofoam box, a plastic
sheet for the bottom (or use plastic wrap), some organic soil,
coffee grounds, newspaper, vegetable waste and worms. If you
use a plastic box you might want to put a smaller Styrofoam
liner inside to keep it cool. If it doesn't freeze in your area
you can put this outside during cool weather on a porch or balcony.
Just remember that worms need to stay above freezing to be active
and if it is too warm the scraps will rot before the worms can
To prepare the box, poke some drainage
holes in the bottom with a very slender needle or tiny drill
or whatever you have to make small drainage holes. Line the
inside of the box bottom with plastic to keep the dirt in and
poke smaller holes in it to allow water to leak through. Place
the box in a tray to catch the drainage. Poke more (small) holes
in the sides, for air. Make larger air holes in the top. Yes
worms need to breathe, and they will drown if you don't let
the water drain.
Next, make up your bedding, about
nine or more inches of it. I start with shredded newspaper,
and then add some organic soil (just a little) and coffee grounds
and egg shells (worms love these). I keep making more layers
until I have about nine inches or so. Water your medium lightly
as you build it. It should be about like a wrung out sponge.
On top put your shredded vegetable scraps and cover them with
a little compost. Then add your worms. You can start with a
mere dozen or so, but red worms usually sell by the pint with
about 60 or so to the pint and they are very cheap to buy, usually
less then $3.00 US) a pint. These little critters will multiply
and if you wind up with more than you need you can always put
them out in a nearby garden or start another bin for a friend.
Some people even eat fried worms or make worm cookies, but I
have only tried them at food fairs. They are loaded with pure
The best materials to add to a
worm bin are raw washed fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds
and filters, tea bags (remove the staples-they harm the worms'
stomachs!), egg shells, paper napkins and towels, and dead plants
and flowers. Remember to feed worms a varied diet and don't
overload the bin with fruit, or you will attract fruit flies.
Shred your scraps a bit to the size of coleslaw strips or potato
peelings to make them decompose better. Do not feed your worm's
meat, fish, or dairy products. These items will produce odors
and attract flies as they decompose. It is generally not a good
idea to feed your worms leftovers, even if they do not include
fish or meat, since they also tend to produce odors and attract
fruit flies. In general, try experimenting with what works in
your bin and what doesn't-but be advised that once your bin
has a fruit fly problem, it is hard to get rid of! Fruit flies
are just too darned prolific! If this happens, you will have
to pull out your worms, throw out the bedding, wash the box
and start over.
You will be amazed at how quickly
these little critters will turn all these scraps into wonderful
black compost, rich in everything your plants need. When you
can see that the soil is black, fine, and slightly crumbly,
it is time to harvest it. Start putting all the scraps on one
side of the bin for a week, the worms will go to that side and
you can them scoop out your new compost. Put new bedding here,
using just a little of the new compost and add scraps only to
that side for a week. The worms will migrate again and you can
scoop out the other side and make new bedding there.
If your bin begins to smell bad,
then you need to change the bedding. Save out the worms and
wash the bin. Start over with fresh bedding. If it smells really
bad, get a new box and gently rinse off your little guys too
by dipping them quickly by hand in a bowl or bucket of room
temperature water. After a while, you will figure out what your
worms like and how much they will eat. Remember to keep the
bedding moist. A dried out bin will only have dead worms. I
use a mister and spray the bedding daily. They also need to
be in the dark, so under the sink is good. If you keep them
on the balcony or patio, they should be inside a cupboard. If
you want to keep them there all the time, you might consider
getting a small used refrigerator. Set on it warmest temperature
it will keep your worms perfectly and keep drinks cold too.
Don't worry. Your little helpers will not leave their little
box. That is paradise to them and they are not about to go anywhere
There are many commercial products
on the market now for composting. If you really want to get
fancy with your composting then look on my site for a list of
If you have problems, you cannot
seem to solve, call the compost help line number at the Botanical
Garden nearest you for help with these and other problems. When your compost is rich and looks like fine soil, it is ready
to add it to your house plants containers and anything else
you grow in doors or out. The material is very high in trace
minerals and nutrients your soil and plants are just going to
love and thrive on.
Saving the planet is as easy as 1,2,3
Compost, compost and then compost some more.
Peace in all that you grow Jay North
Jay North is a internationally
recognized expert and pioneer in organic gardening and farming
industry's, his books are available on his website. Please Help
Support an Organic Planet see Jay's books page at www.GoingOrganic.com
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