Master Gardeners gardening and blogging in the mountains of Colorado. For more information contact your local extension office, www.ext.colostate.edu/cedirectory or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, October 26, 2012
Outdoor Vermicomposting at 8000' - Part 1, The Worm Bin by Tina Ligon
Figure 1 - Repurposed refrigerator - it is now a worm bin
Yes, you can do vermicomposting outdoors, year round at 8000' and yes, it does take a little effort. I started my outdoor bin in August 2009. I successfully kept worms in the bin in 2009 and 2011. I moved all of the worms indoors in 2010 due to a work assignment out of state so wasn’t around to give them the attention needed. This article is about the bin, I plan to blog more about the other aspects of outdoor vermicomposting at altitude in the future.
I originally saw the example of using a discarded refrigerator as a bin at the Sustainability Fair in Fort Collins. It was a display by John Anderson (http://www.cowormman.com/). We just happened to replace our refrigerator about that time so I had the starting point. The refrigerator went to a recycler and had the Freon removed. It was stripped of all the mechanical parts so that we were left with a great insulated box. A new lid was constructed because the original doors got lost at the recyclers. Several holes were drilled in the bottom for drainage and it was put in place in a south facing area of the yard. I have great plans to make an art project out of this also, but that just hasn’t happened yet. Here are a few links to general information about vermicomposting, http://www.ext.colostate.edu/ptlk/1622.html, and a favorite of minehttp://www.redwormcomposting.com/
There are some advatages to this type of bin.
The first is the size. A larger bin can handle more material and is more forgiving of little upsets (i.e. - material that starts to heat up due to microbial action) because there is more space for the worms to move to.
Secondly, some people just don't want the worms inside. I have both, I call my inside bin my "insurance" bin just in case something goes wrong outside.
Occasional pests like fruit flies - They just aren't the same issue outside.
Space - Some people just don't have a place indoors for a bin.
Convenience - Yes, you have to go outside to add your food scraps but my bin is in the middle of my gardening area and makes life easier for the harvesting of the vemicompost to be used in the gardens and for adding material to the bin from the gardening space.
So stay tuned for future articles about Vermicomposting at 8000'. I have several experiments going that I will be reporting on in the future.