In a bioshelter a central objective is to reincorporate wastes into the integrated system as much as possible. In fact the term waste is no longer necessary because waste becomes food. One of our most productive elements is feeding food scraps to our vermicompost.
What is vermicompost?
“Without the work of this humble creature, who knows nothing of the benefits he confers upon mankind, agriculture, as we know it, would be very difficult, if not wholly impossible.” Wrote Darwin in 1881 about the earthworm.
George Sheffield Oliver, the founder of modern day vermicomposting, read Darwin’s work and immediately set out to try growing worms on his farm to recycle farm wastes. Soon he had a thriving worm composting operation, which led him to develop the vermicomposting techniques people are still using today. Read more about his work here:
These techniques are very simple. Essentially all that is necessary is a closed but ventilated container that has bedding on the bottom – making sure to keep it moist like a rung out sponge (we use wetted shredded newspaper). To this, red wiggler worms are added (they are a particular species that likes the conditions). Then non-dairy, non-meat food scraps are added to the bedding, no more then the worms can break down in a few days. We also like to add a couple of hand fulls of living garden or forest soil to the bin with the worms. This helps add beneficial micro-ecologies that gives the whole process a jump start.
That’s it. Soon the “worm bin”, the term used for home scale, will fill with worm poop, or castings, which can be scrapped off the top and fed to your house plants. Full of nutrients plants love.
Because the bioshelter has a small footprint, at only 400 square feet, space is a premium. This constraint helps push our thinking to utilize space more efficiently. One such technique we came up with was to put our worm bin vermicomposting system under our feet.
The picture to the left above is a trench between to planting beds. The second picture is the same trench covered with wood planks, allowing us to walk over the worm bin. It is now filled with worms, shredded paper, worm castings and food scraps. This winter worm activity has slowed due to cooler temperatures (this morning the temperature in the worm bin was 56 degrees F, 39 degrees in the bioshelter, 19 degrees outside the bioshelter).
Why is vermicomposting important to a well functioning bioshelter?
Read the post: Worm Compost Power