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Worm Compost So You Don't Have to Throw it "Away" to Delta

Vancouver’s recycling program effectively ignores dealing with organic waste. And because the majority of the city’s inhabitants lack the commodity of a yard in which they can compost their food scraps and organic material, much of the broccoli stems and used tea bags get discarded with low-grade plastic and styrofoam, adding to the growing mountain of trash at the Vancouver Landfill in Delta (pictured above).

Creating and sustaining a worm compost requires a bit of dedication and not much more, except for courage to maintain composure when handling the crawlers.

The ideal worm home is a rubber container with holes drilled in the sides for ventilation and in the bottom for drainage. Unlike Vancouver residents, the worms thrive in leaky condos.

The furnishings consist of a Sunday edition of a local newspaper, shredded into linguini style strips, mixed with a pile of dead and dried leaves or straw. Throw in a handful of sand (not from the beach but from a playground) for grit so that the worms can eat using their gizzard and a handful of dirt to add some living bacteria to add diversity to the new ecosystem. Spray it down with water to create a humid and tropical atmosphere.

Feed the worms about once a week, into alternating corners, with as much food scraps as would fit into a large yoghurt container. If you produce more, keep leftovers in the freezer so that if you’re out of town for the week, you’ll be able to provide sustenance to the red wigglers. After about three months, the original material should have been consumed by the worms, leaving behind a pile of compost rich in nutrients. A kind of black gold that doesn’t destroy the planet.

Following that, you’ll be able to harvest the worms and double your efforts. As you go along, you’ll be able to adjust the system so that it’s efficient and healthy. A couple of extra tips:
∑ keep a secure lid on the bionetwork so that rodents aren’t tempted to raid it
∑ don’t feed the worms meat, grains, or oils
∑ dilute the liquid (leachate) that drains from the bottom to water house plants

The municipally funded City Farmer offers worm composting workshops for $25 and includes the worm home with the startup components, including the slimy residents. With the garbage strike in full effect, worm composting is a way for Vancouver residents to responsibly take managing waste into their own hands.

photos by Elecia Chrunik

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