GREEN: Worm Wrangling 101

Blogger Emily Jubenvill debunks the rotten, stinky myths surrounding apartment composting.

Credit: iStock / zerocattle

Blogger Emily Jubenvill debunks the rotten, stinky myths surrounding apartment composting

I love my worms! Like Davin, I think my roommate Miranda must have seen Pet Cemetery too because every time I feed the worms she high tails it out of the kitchen. I was luckily spared that trauma!

Davin has made some great points about apartment composting, but I’d like to shed some light on some of them.

Myth #1 – The end product, soil, is of no use to me.

Are you imagining soil pouring from the compost bin under the sink, spilling across the floor and requiring a wheelbarrow to clean up and haul out? Stop. Breathe.

New Blog!

Davin’s not convinced

“Reality” blogger Davin Luke isn’t so sure that composting’s for him…

I’ve had my compost bin for almost a year, I’ve harvested about six cups of castings (or worm poop), and there are probably another 10–12 cups sitting in the bin. That’s not much dirt at all, but that is a lot of kitchen scraps that have avoided joining the forces of darkness and evil—also known as the landfill. Although it is not enough soil to plant a whole garden, the soil is perfect and nutrient rich for starting seeds* or topping up houseplants’ soil as it gets compacted.

Myth #2 – The worms will escape and take over the kitchen!

On Sunday mornings, you practically have to drag me out of bed. Why would I ever want to leave the snuggly, warm, comfort of my bed?

The same goes for the worms. In their natural environment, you’ll find red wigglers under the leaf litter on the forest floor—protected, lots of food, dark and moist. The “worm bin” offers the same environment, and they’re very unlikely to leave (even when they run out of food). Besides, you’re keeping all the good stuff (veggie scraps) in their bin—so they’re not going to find cabbage in the cupboard next to the tofurkey soup!

Myth #3 – Why would I want to stink up my apartment with compost?

The smell you’re thinking of is nasty enough to make your hair curl, but this is not the smell of a well-maintained worm bin—guaranteed. Nasty smells from rotting food are not a problem with worm composting: these little critters are such voracious eaters that the food you put into the bin does not even get the chance to rot! Worm Wranglers just need to be aware of how much their troops can handle. Mine eat a well-packed yogurt container per week—no smells included.

I have no answers to Davin’s eating habits—that is one barrier to worm wrangling that is out of my hands. If you chronically eat out, then there is really no point in getting a worm bin.

Okay, perhaps I have convinced you that worm composting is not as useless, disgusting, or smelly as you had previously believed. It still takes skill though, right? Correct! It is a good idea to know what your worms like, don’t like and how to take good care of them just like any other pets you may have.

Luckily, here in Vancouver, we have City Farmer, the once stop shop for all your Worm Wrangling needs! They offer a worm workshop (about an hour) that provides you with the bin, about 500 worms, the Worms Eat My Garbage book and they actually teach you how to set it all up! It’s an amazing deal, and it is subsidized by the city; I think it is a $75 value, and you get it for $25!

“You set up this bin with a bedding of newspaper and other materials, and the worms will process the food waste, and within three to four months you will have a finished compost,” says Mike Levenston, executive director of City Farmer, … read more

City Farmer can be contacted at the Compost Hotline: 604-736-2250. Be sure to check out their great Worm Composting Comic.

* Friendly reminder: you should be planting your tomatoes by now!