Category Archives: Vermicomposting

More Worm Castings, Less Contaminants

Well that was quick- another big tray of worm castings.  The yellow bin is what I pulled yesterday, and the blue tub is my main container.

Recently I posted all the contaminants I found in my last batch– this time was much better, but I still missed a few fruit labels.

Quite an improvement over the last batch!

 

Vermicomposting a Dead Mouse?

The cat presented me with a mouse the other day, right when I was heading downstairs with my food scraps to the Worm Inn system.

I always put dead animals in my outdoor compost piles, but this time I wanted to try something different.

I added the mouse in the middle, followed by my week’s worth of food scraps and then additional bedding on top.

It’ll be interesting to harvest the worm castings in a few months…

Collecting Worm Castings…and the Other Stuff, Too.

Emptying the Worm Inn vermicomposting system is a breeze- check out the gorgeous castings!  I don’t miss my old worm bin at all.

The contaminants are pretty funny, too- a few fruit labels, a shredded envelope window, and some uncrushed eggshells didn’t make it.

Sifting out the extras is easy when using a basket with 1/4″ to 1/2″ spacing.

Are you getting the results you’d like with your worm bin or outdoor composting system?

Lots and Lots of Worm Poop – Now What?

worm inn castings 1

It’s been six months since I’ve emptied the Worm Inn system– I admit I forgot about the worms for a bit, but now I have a ton of castings.

Every time I empty the Worm Inn, I’m always so impressed with the quality of the castings compared to the results from a standard worm bin.

When looking at the outlying “contaminants”, it’s like looking back in time at mistakes that were made- as you can see, I have a few!

worm inn castings + contaminants 2

  1. I’m such a stickler about removing labels from fruit, but I guess I wasn’t on a few occasions.  Luckily, these are easy to spot.

2. All those plastic shreds were clearly from an envelope that has a plastic window.  I like to shred my paper, but I must have shredded a whole junk mail envelope without looking inside to remove a return envelope.  Whoops!

3. I read everywhere that worms like crushed egg shells… clearly I haven’t tried that yet.  I’m going to crush these egg shells as fine as I can and then throw them back in.

The screening process is pretty easy- Empty the castings until some unprocessed food or worms pop up, then throw them back in the top of the system and zip up the bottom.

I have a wire basket that I dump the castings through, which removes the larger pieces.

The resulting materials are those excellent castings we all yearn for… if you’re having any challenges with vermicomposting, the Worm Inn really makes the whole process pretty easy.

Video to come shortly.  🙂

Naples-area compost operation growing and thriving (article)

Original article found here: http://www.mpnnow.com/news/20161128/naples-area-compost-operation-growing-and-thriving

A small backyard compost turned into a rich farming operation in Prattsburgh that is keeping Naples-area food waste out of the landfill

Al Zappetella makes weekly rounds through Naples to pick up buckets of kitchen scraps. Barrels of discarded onion skins, banana peels, coffee grounds, egg shells, apple cores and other food waste — along with leaves, yard trimmings and other organic waste — get trucked a few miles down the road to Prattsburgh.

Zappetella has been doing the free pickups for a few years now. That is, after he and partner Celeste Arlie realized they were outgrowing their small, backyard compost pile in Naples. Family, friends and neighbors began adding to the pile. It cut everyone’s household waste by more than half.

Then, as Arlie posted on the Facebook page set up to get the word out, they went bigger: “In an effort to make the world a little bit greener we wanted to bring composting to our community.”

Now, at their farm on Route 53 in Prattsburgh, where Zappetella brings the weekly haul from 12 households and several Naples businesses, the compost operation is thriving. Food scrap pickups include from the local grocery store, Rennoldson’s Market, and restaurants such as Roots Cafe and The Grainery among other stops. Prattsburgh Central School is also on board, and Zappetella hopes the Naples school district will join, too.

From inside the barn, Zappetella shows a number of 32-square-foot beds, where the compost soil is in various stages of development. He started about four years ago with 2 pounds of worms. They multiply like crazy, he said. The worms recycle the food scraps and other organic material by eating the scraps, which become compost as they pass through the worm’s body. Compost exits the worm through its tail end — basically, it’s the worm poo that does it, Zappetella said, pulling up a fistful of the rich mix.

Outside the barn, Zappetella pointed to the surrounding undeveloped hillsides from the family farm that runs on both sides of Route 53. “We want to use all the resources,” he said. A few of the farm’s 30 or so chickens pecked at a fresh pile of food scraps — it’s OK that meat and bones are in the scraps because the chickens eat it, he said. With help from his sons and other family, Zappetella said they are able to keep the place going and look to grow.

In all, along with the chickens, they have 14 goats and 7 Icelandic sheep that all live under the watchful eye of Loli, an Anatolian shepherd who guards the place. “She’s fearless,” said Zappetella. Before they got her, he noted, bears raided the farm and broke into their beehives.

Four of the 20 acres are fenced in, and a new barn is going up across the field. Eventually, they would like to open a roadside stand to sell their goat-milk products and other farm produce.

The compost makes rich fertilizer for growing their fruits and vegetables and they sell “16th-inch fine-sifted worm castings,” he said.

With nearly half of all the waste that lands in landfills from food and other organic material, the push is on put it to use. Ontario County is behind the effort, with its move to reduce landfill waste by at least 60 percent within the next nine years. The contract with landfill manager Casella Waste Systems Inc. expires in 2028, when many say they want the county to shut down the facility in the town of Seneca. A big part of the effort involves the county and its municipalities and businesses working together, while individuals also take the lead.

“Waste is a lack of imagination,” said Keith Turner of Canandaigua, quoting the owner of a local worm farm. Keith and his wife, Sue, collect coffee grounds from Finger Lakes Coffee Roasters in Farmington for compost.

“So this is trying to have an imagination,” Keith said.

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I couldn’t have said it better myself.  Waste is definitely a lack of imagination.

This is inspiring!  While I don’t have a barn, or much of a yard- I wonder if I could collect my neighbor’s food scraps, too.

I think that proactive composting is going to continue picking up momentum as it becomes correctly perceived as a necessity.  Whether you live in the city or out in the country, whether you’re aware of environmental issues or not, I have this hunch that composting will become something that brings people together.

I know how sappy that sounds, but think about it- we’re all people, we all defecate in the water supply and bury our food in landfills instead of returning it all to the soil so we can grow food to eat.

Also- 1/16″ worm castings are NICE.  That’s some fine stuff.