Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Down with Worms, Up with Bokashi?

Yeah, so my second vermicompost (worm composting) bin is on the outs. *weep*

The first failure was my own fault. I was keeping the bin indoors, on a shelf in my kitchen. The best spot for it happened to be next to the radiator, and since it was winter, I forgot how easy it is for the compost to dry out next to all that hot air. All the worms got too dehydrated and vanished.

So then I got a second shipment of worms (thanks Uncle Jim's Worm Farm!) I was starting to get some ribbing from people for keeping compost inside, plus with all the kombucha and mushrooms I'm already growing, I thought there might be a little too much microbial action happening already in my apartment. (Don't worry, I've since changed my mind about this, as you're soon to find out!) So I put the bin outside on the concrete slab, next to all my new native plants from the Baltimore FlowerMart.

I should never have left that full tub of lettuce sitting in the garbage can tempt me. I forgot one of the most important tips about composting: Always freeze the scraps you are planning on putting into your compost! This helps kill any fly eggs or other unwelcome pests.

But instead I took that darn lettuce from the garbage can and tossed it right in to the compost. Or maybe some other contaminated food was the culprit. In any case, my vermicompost bin become a fly infested mess several weeks later.

To avoid spraying any chemical insecticides, I decided to just seal my whole bin up in plastic. (Don't worry, I used 7th Generation trash bags!). I'll open it in a few weeks to see if the flies have died, and if there are any worms left. But I think I'll take a little break from vermicomposting.

After doing some research into indoor composting, I found out about this awesome stuff called Bokashi. Here's a website for details: http://www.composterconnection.com/site/bokashi-bran.html Basically it looks like its bran, molasses, and salt that's been mixed with beneficial microbes.

There's a whole set-up you can buy, and it looks like you are supposed to layer a ton of the Bokashi with your compost, but if I've learned anything from the worms and kombucha, you can pretty much toss stuff together in a bin and it will break down. I'm planning on just using my vermicompost bin, buying a bag of this stuff, and mixing it in with my food waste and wet shredded paper.

I could go on and on now about other composting tips I've learned, but I guess I will save some for the future! Can't wait to let you all know how this Bokashi stuff turns out. For about $15, it's worth it, and it's sure to be a fun experiment.

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