Tag Archives: vermicomposting

Debunking the Myth About Composting Citrus Peels

All right, I’m going to keep this short and sweet for you.  I’ve been composting for a long time, and in general I’m not really into the whole scientific side of it.  I’d rather have a general idea and help spread that to the masses…too many details leads to analysis paralysis.

The composting process can be kept to a few simple rules:  3:1 carbon to nitrogen, no meat/dairy/oils, have fun.  Recently, I’ve been receiving a lot of questions about whether or not citrus fruit belongs in your compost pile…yes!

I’m not sure how this urban legend really came to fruition, but it’s simply not something to worry about.  It seems the common belief is that it takes longer to decompose, which is technically true, but barely.  A chemical by the name of limonene needs to be chewed by particular bacteria, but as soon as that happens it’s like anything else.  In fact, citrus fruits will heat up your pile quite nicely.

A week ago, I received a gift in the form of a 5 gallon bucket of waste from a juicer.  As you can guess, my pile nearly doubled its temperature as a result of this fruity gift.  What it comes down to is that if you make any reasonable attempt at composting, you’re not going to have any issues with this.

My hunch is that the myth evolved from vermicomposting first, as citrus peels are not a worm’s favorite snack.  Nonetheless, even with worms you can feed them a limited amount of it.  Moral of the story, when it comes to citrus fruit waste, let it rip!

Looking to make composting a snap?  Check out my new e-book “Tyler’s Dirty Little Composting Secrets” by clicking here.

The Urban Legend of Citrus Peels

I’ve received some funny emails recently regarding the pH of compost and whether or not citrus peels can be thrown in there.

Simply put, there’s nothing wrong with putting any amount of citrus fruit in your compost.  In fact, as you just saw in the last week my compost tumbler nearly doubled its temperature after I added a huge bucket of citrus fruit waste…nothing wrong with that!

I think that this perception comes from vermicomposting more than anything, as it helps to keep citrus waste to a minimum for the worms.  Even still, you can add it in small amounts.

Does anyone have a different view on this?  I’m tending to think it’s all hearsay, and anyone that actually tries to compost citrus peels will see that it’s just fine.

My Experience With Vermicomposting (article)

I found this story, which explains one guy’s solution to living in an apartment and wanting to compost.  There wasn’t really an option to set up anything large or create something unique, so he went with the worm bin.  I really think worm bins are going to catch on in the future and be more or less well known as something to do.

Why should you care?  Well, you shouldn’t.  I can’t tell you what to do, and frankly I don’t want to.  But I can assure you it’s fun to compost and that you should give it a shot.  Don’t you miss trying out science experiments?  I hated school, but I always loved trying new things…and this is the perfect candidate and it’s pretty darn foolproof when you know the basics.

Let’s read what C.B. has to say:

After reading about Vermicomposting (the process of using worms as a way to recycle discarded food scraps and make compost) online I was so intrigued by the idea that I just had to give it a go. I had been researching conventional composting practices because I wanted a way to cut down on the amount of garbage that I was throwing away, but was having trouble figuring out how I could do it.

For one thing, I live in an apartment so short of my balcony there’s really nowhere else I could start a compost heap. It’s not advised to have one so close to your house because they generally do produce something of an odor, but I was still willing to do so if it was the only way. Besides that though, all the yard maintenance of the complex was contracted out and conducted very efficiently. It would be hard to come up with the necessary refuse to supply the “brown” material for a compost pile.

Enter Vermicomposting
While I was browsing around I kept noticing mention of “Vermicomposting” or “composting with worms” and kept putting off reading about it. Something in the back of my head just kind of assumed “there’s no way I’m doing that.” Most people probably have a similar bias towards worms; sad but true. Finally I did read a few articles about it, and was intrigued by people saying how easy, mess-free and (most importantly) odorless it was. Worm bins are commonly kept indoors and produce no discernible odor whatsoever. This is what really got me interested, because my deck is often in full sunlight and thus not ideal for regular compost or Vermicomposting. If I could keep them inside, then that made it a viable option.

When I remembered that I’d seen the specific kind of worm used in Vermicomposting, “red wigglers” at the local PetsMart before, that pretty much sealed the deal. If you can’t get worms locally then you have to have them shipped, which was somewhat off-putting. But since I could, that meant I could literally start Vermicomposting that day. Perfect!

My Vermicomposting Setup
It turns out that PetsMart was out of stock of red worms that day, but doing a quick search online I was able to find a store that sold live bait situated on a nearby river – voila. I drove out and purchased a single small plastic tub of worms (the woman who sold them to me said there was about forty in it, but I’m not so sure about that.) I figured one tub would be fine since I produce very little waste (one heaping handful of scraps or less daily, on average) and I compensated by buying a much smaller bin than most sites recommend, about 18″ x 10″. I accidentally goofed and bought a clear bin (worms don’t like light), but I solved that by wrapping it in duct tape; after stealing some free classified newspapers from outside a local grocery I was ready to go.

The whole “micro-Vermicomposting” setup cost me under $10, including my new worm friends, and took about an hour to get everything assembled nicely. I introduced scraps I’d been saving immediately and did my best to resist the urge to go and look at them and check their progress. The morning after I set up the bin I was a little alarmed to see three renegade worms dried out on the carpet (only one survived) that had ventured out during the night – this typically means that conditions in the bin were unfavorable. It was apparently a one-time thing though, and I’ve had no additional problems in any way with my worms. I will be buying several more tubs to add in and speed up their consumption rate, but otherwise the entire system is beautifully self-contained.

I am a thoroughly convinced convert to the practice of Vermicomposting and intend to inform everyone in my family about it and hopefully get them started. I hope this article has helped clarify some of the mystery surrounding it for you and allows you to overcome any inherent aversion to the idea you might be harboring.           -CB Michaels

How to Build a Worm Bin In Under 15 Minutes (video)

How To Build A Worm Composting Bin In Under 15 Minutes

Woohoo!  I just made a new worm bin. I’m going to go ahead and call it a “Bentley Bin”, which I named after Bentley Christie of http://www.redwormcomposting.com . He’s the true master of vermicomposting, and I highly recommend checking him out to learn everything there is to know about worms.

Hit the Like button for the video and leave a comment for me!

I’ll be posting updates once I get my worms, which should be in about a week.