Unfortunately, despite my best efforts to take care of my new little friends, they kept on trying to escape.
For days, I tried adjusting numerous factors including:
- The amount of food
- The amount of bedding
- The humidity
But no matter what I did, my adjustments somehow did not click, and my worms were everywhere.
Sadly, I wasn't able to figure out what I was doing wrong; and eventually, many of my worms reached the end of their days on my floor, while the remaining worms in the worm bin dried up from dehydration because I had decreased the moisture too much. (As I mentioned in my vermicomposting post, the bedding needs to start off moist because worms breathe through their skin).
At the time, I was really upset about my failed attempt at vermicomposting, especially because of my past gardening and farming experiences, and I have done outdoor composting in the past without a problem!
But I have accepted the fact that vermicomposting is not for me, at least for the time being. I would love to have a second try at vermicomposting. But, I have also come to the realization that, at the moment, my small apartment does not have the capacity to keep such a large vermicomposting bin.
So, I have donated my worm bin to the greenhouse of BU's wonderful Organic Gardening Collective (O.G.C.).
Luckily, Lisa Gross from The Urban Homesteaders' League also gave me some extra worms, and I was happy to drop them off at the greenhouse as well.
Although I am a bit disappointed to not vermicompost myself, I know that I can always vermicompost at the O.G.C., compost at my friends' outdoor composting bins, and compost at the Whole Foods on Prospect St. in Cambridge. In addition, next year I will be living in a house, and we plan to have an outdoor composting bin there. For those of you who have a backyard, outdoor composting bins are subsidized by many towns, such as in Boston, Cambridge, and Brookline!
Even though I will no longer be vermicomposting in my apartment, vermicomposting may still be for you! Often you can remedy the second time around what you did wrong the first time. And the third time is always a charm! Tip: the holes that you drill in your worm bin should be smaller than your worms so that they can't escape. (This should have been the case for me, but clearly something went wrong).
Ask Ryan, who taught The Urban Homesteaders' League's workshop on Vermicomposting, your indoor composting questions at compostboy[at]yahoo.com. Or if you purchase the book Worms Eat My Garbage, 100+ pages of vermicomposting knowledge will be yours.
More reasons to vermicompost - did you know that:
In 2008, Americans generated 250 million tons of trash. (source: EPA's 2008 MSW Facts and Figures). Of this,
- ~12.7 % is made of food scraps
- 800 thousands of tons of food scraps were recovered (or composted) in municipal solid waste
- 30,990 thousands of tons of food scraps were discarded in the municipal waste stream, and this number has been on the rise since 1960. (Source: EPA's MSW Data Tables 2008).
- Aka, ~97.5% of disposed food waste was sent to landfills in 2008