Virtual Tour Stop #8
Every year, EarthLinks generates over 2,000 lbs. of compost. This helps to keep our waste away from landfills, and generates nutrient rich fertilizer for our urban garden. We have two forms of composting here, vermiculture and aerobic composting.
Vermiculture is worm composting! We use red wriggler worms, which transform our scraps into dark, nutrient-rich soil that is perfect for blending with garden soil, potting soil, or dressing the tops of garden beds. We do our worm composting in an old freezer to help protect the worms from extreme heat and cold. The ideal temperature for the worms is between 55 and 77 F. Inside, there is a soft layer of bedding made of shredded newspaper. After preparing the bedding by wetting it with water and fluffing up the mixture, we add our worms. They will burrow into the bedding and, after a week or so, it is ready to start adding our food scraps. Other than meat and dairy, all our food and garden scraps can go in. We finely chop up the scraps to help the worms digest everything. In three to six months, the compost is ready to harvest!
Aerobic composting is the creation of fertilizing compost that relies on bacteria that thrive in an oxygen-rich environment. With this method, our food and garden scraps are still chopped up into fine pieces. We create layers of “brown” and “green” materials. Brown materials are carbon rich and are slow to decompose. This includes items such as newspaper, leaves, wood shavings, etc. Green materials are rich in nitrogen and decompose quickly. This includes items such as fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, green lawn clippings, coffee grounds, etc. Our heap of compostable material is moistened with water and left to rot. As bacteria grows in the pile, the internal temperature will rise. Eventually, the bacteria will run out of oxygen and start dying, so the pile will need to be stirred up or turned in order to introduce oxygen again. This reinvigorates the bacteria and keeps the process going. This method is slow, but can yield compost in 6-9 months.
Next Steps: Walk behind the compost area to the bee fence. Please stay out of the fenced area for safety purposes. If you are allergic to bees, please skip this tour spot.