Compost With Worms and Chickens

WORMS

Making compost with worms or chickens cuts down on landfill waste and it’s great for your garden. Compost consists of decomposed organic matter (which is decomposed carbon, i.e. non-living things that were once alive). This includes animal, plant, fungal and microbial material.

Compost is a natural fertilizer that re-deposits nutrients back into the soil. It helps the soil absorb more water, as well as loosening the clay in the soil so plants can spread their roots. It also acts as a pH buffer for acidic and alkaline soils. Additionally, compost breaks down toxic chemicals if any are present. 30% of all food waste can be composted. This includes food scraps like banana peels, eggshells, coffee filters, etc. Less garbage in the landfill means less carbon in the atmosphere and the planet won’t warm as quickly. The added bonus is that you can add compost to your garden to make superior fruits and vegetables and you won’t have to buy as much at the store. So, it’s a win-win situation.

To do your own composting at home, there are various methods, depending on where you live and how squeamish you are. For the animal lover, there are worm bins or chickens. If that’s not up your alley, the basic backyard box is slightly less consuming.

Worm boxes make excellent compost (known as vermicomposting) but you have to be able to tolerate worms. The process is actually not so bad; the worms mainly stay hidden in the dirt. You do, however, have to make the initial purchase of worms but then they will reproduce.

To make a worm bin, order or purchase red worms online or from a nursery, and get a plastic or wooden (somewhat shallow) box and drill holes for ventilation. Lay shredded moist newspaper at the bottom and then a layer of kitchen scraps (NO meat or dairy—it will not smell pleasant). The worms will eat the food scraps and turn them into compost. After about 2 months, they will begin to reproduce by themselves (literally—they are hermaphroditic). Worms like dark, moist environments and can be kept indoors or out.

To order worms or find locations:

www.ciwmb.ca.gov/organics/worms/wrmsuply.htm

For a more detailed guide on worm bins here’s a great guide:

How to Start a Worm Bin: Your Guide to Getting Started with Worm Composting

CHICKENS

If you want to fully embrace organic farming, and live in a house that can tolerate them, chickens are wonderful sources for composting. Chickens are scavengers so they will virtually eat any kitchen waste. They can survive on kitchen scraps only but if you want an ample supply of eggs they need specific nutrients so try: Organic-Naturally-Layer-Chicken-25lbs

Chickens are docile and friendly, making great pets. They also eat pesky bugs and trim the weeds. But beware–they can decimate the garden if given the opportunity. Keep them fenced in away from the garden until you are ready to pull out your winter greens.

As raising chickens can be a complicated process (though totally doable) check out this book:
Chickens In Your Backyard: A Beginner’s Guide

Be it chickens or worms, both are fun and useful ways to make compost, which is good for the garden as well as the earth.

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