Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tipping the Bin and Getting Results

Sometimes you need to tip the bin to get results. It seems a bit perilous, there's the risk of collapse, but it's biology so it's gotta be real. That's what happened in our worm composting operation in the basement. We don't grow the worms for the garden, though we do put them in the soil sometimes. We just grow them for fun, to get rid of our scraps, and to get some of that wonderful compost tea out of the operation.

I've posted before about that wonderful compost tea. It's ugly brown. It smells. It's strong. But dilute it way down (a couple of tablespoons to a gallon of water) and it's the best fertilizer you can imagine. And instead of changing the soil chemistry of your garden or potted plants like commercial fertilizers, this stuff actually improves the soil by adding nutrients and beneficial bacteria.

Worm composting in the Basement

Anyway, how to get it out of the bins? As you can see our operation is super simple. Instead of using fancy collection bins we just use old recycle bins from the city. They have some breathing holes in the bottom so I found out that by putting the bin on a little bit of an angle water would naturally run to the lowest point.

I put a wide bin on the floor underneath and as the compost tea slowly makes its way through the muck it drips bit by bit into the waiting container below.

Tipping the Bin

I learned something else this way. SInce I don't want the worm bin to fall on the floor I have to counter the weight by piling the soil up on one side. Doing this gives me the chance to aerate the worms' environment, mix up the medium, and provide more surface area for oxygenation. We have three bins so I do this every 3 days or so, and between the worms and their gut bacteria all of our compostables are taken care of AND we have that wonderful elixir, the compost tea.

Composting Worm Habitat

With the official start of my sabbatical a few days away this is a great time to think about tipping the bin a little bit and extracting some good stuff from this experience!

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