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RE: [GreenYes] indoor composting
- Subject: RE: [GreenYes] indoor composting
- From: Nicky Scott <NScott@devon.gov.uk>
- Date: Mon, 9 Sep 2002 12:37:49 +0100
Of course vermicomposting can deal with large amounts, but the space needed
will be larger than composting. Worms cannot start eating kitchen scaps
until they have started to break down. Vermicomposting systems on any scale
tend to hot compost the material first before feeding to the worms. If you
try and put quantities of putrescible food waste into a worm bin it will
heat up - which the worms can't stand and they will migrate away from the
heat. A system I saw recently in Scotland shredded kitchen waste and
cardboard in a vermitech shredder. This was then put in a 'Big Hanna' in
vessel composter to be thermophillically (hot) composted then spread out in
a layer on a Vermitech worm bed which is basically a giant sieve in a
container with a hydraulic ram to agitate and release finished worm casts
from the bottom from time to time as the level builds.
Another inside system which I have just attended a workshop on at our annual
community composting conference is the EM Bokashi method. This involves
sprinkling small amounts of bran which have been innoculated with beneficial
micro-organisms onto your food waste scraps into a bucket with a tightly
fitting lid. (Its an anaerobic system similar to making sauerkraut etc)
The bucket has holes in the bottom and fits snugly into another bucket. The
liquid can be watered down (rainwater) to feed to plants - add to drains -
even fish tanks! It has to be watered down at least 100 to 1 (for fish 500
-1). you can get more info on this from www.livingsoil.co.uk
As with sauerkraut making a plate can be fitted into the bucket with a
weight on to expell air. When the bucket is full another is started and
when that one is full the first one can be emptied. As this is a
fermentation not a putrefaction process there are no unpleasant smells - its
the kind of smell you get from brewing or sour dough bread making. The
resultant material can be buried in the garden to improve soil directly or
incorporated in a compost heap where it is apparently not sought out by rats
etc - . I'm not sure whether worms go for it - probably!
The bokashi can also be used in dry toilet systems.
Another system being pioneered in Germany consists of also using
micro-organisms. This involves a building looking just like a car garage.
The food waste is piled up in quantity - innoculated throughout in layers
(like the Bokashi) and the door sealed. A clean methane gas is produced
which doesn't have the corrosive gases as with landfill gas. This system is
being planned in some innovative work being done in the London Borough of
Southwark which has huge high rise estates and few gardens. I'm trying to
track down a website for more info for you on this.
I think the micro-organism developments are fascinating but I have no
practical experience of them - yet! I've just set up my bucket system this
We have a major problem in the UK following the Foot and Mouth crisis and it
looks like all food waste will have to be 'sanitised' ie go through a
covered or in vessel composting system with a guaranteed temperature of 60
(or even 70) degrees celsius for a minimum of one hour. Furthermore there
must be no possibility of bypass of the system and completelt clean and
seperate areas for finished compost and incoming feedstocks. The resultant
compost will also be prohibited for use on grazing land. We have some tough
problems to work out here with the Animal by-products order still in place.
It may be that the government's cheif vet tells us that it all will have to
go to landfill - which would be a disaster for us - and the planet!
Chair of community composting network UK
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Frank Teuton [SMTP:firstname.lastname@example.org]
> Sent: 05 September 2002 11:41
> To: Nicky Scott; andrew weidmann
> Cc: email@example.com
> Subject: Re: [GreenYes] indoor composting
> Indoor composting can be done in a great many ways.
> In vessel systems are one way, but other methods are also used indoors,
> example, contained windrows that are agitated with machines on a regular
> basis. These generally have their own special building....:-)
> One assertion below made me shake my head, that vermiculture can "can only
> deal with much smaller amounts than in-vessel".
> The hot setup for high throughput vermicomposting was developed by Dr
> Edwards, now at Ohio State University, whilst he was at Rothamsted. It is
> now available commercially in many forms, for example, see
> www.wormwigwam.com for several sizes of continuous feed, flow through worm
> Another teched out vermicomposting system is the Worm Gin, see
> You can make your own flow through system. Plans can be purchased, for
> example, from Worm Digest www.wormdigest.org for the Oregon Soil
> Reactor, or OSCR. These plans can be scaled up to large size if you like,
> see for example,
> Compare an Earth Tub, which holds 3 cubic yards of material, with one of
> larger Worm Wigwam systems, say the 5-6.
> See http://www.gmt-organic.com/et-info.html
> and http://www.wormwigwam.com/wormbins.htm
> The Earth Tub claims to handle 40-200 pounds per day, and the 5-6 claims
> 75-150 ppd, so they are similar capacity units. It would be interesting to
> run them side by side, and compare performance and labor requirements.
> Getting back to Andrew's question, get a copy of Worms Eat My Garbage by
> Mary Appelhof, Andrew. Cedar is not necessary, any wood will do, odors
> should be avoided by good management. But cedar will resist decay longer
> than many other woods, so it could still be a good choice.
> A very nice bin for a school environment would be an Eliminator,
> model, which is a wooden and metal flow through bin with a plexiglas side
> you can expose to see what the worms are doing. You can see these at
> www.happydranch.com .
> The most 'bang for the buck' in terms of floorspace for DIY indoor
> composting is probably the stacked milkcrate system. Where labor is
> plentiful, or in a classroom where you want to give each student his or
> own bin to manage, this setup could be ideal, as 30 milkcrates can be
> stacked in as little as a 3 x 4 foot space, using 3 boot trays to catch
> leachate, with two stacks of five crates in each tray.
> Crates can be lined with things from landscape fabric to plastic bags,
> drainage holes in the plastic please! Tyvek or some similar breathable
> material would make another interesting liner, as would wood. Cardboard
> won't last, but does make an excellent feedstock...
> One other thing about indoor composting, and that is that it sometimes
> brings unwanted visitors. The 'bete noire' of indoor vermicomposting is
> fruit fly, Drosophila spp. While no risk to public health, a big
> of fruit flies can nonetheless be highly annoying.
> Some folks microwave or freeze their wastes to destroy fruit fly eggs
> to feeding the bin. Others use deep 'pocket feeding' of their worm bins to
> try to avoid fruit flies. Biocontrols for fruit fly larvae include
> insectivorous nematodes and Hypoaspsis mites.
> Forewarned is forearmed.
> Good composting,
> Frank Teuton
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Nicky Scott" <NScott@devon.gov.uk>
> To: "andrew weidmann" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Cc: <email@example.com>
> Sent: Thursday, September 05, 2002 4:35 AM
> Subject: RE: [GreenYes] indoor composting
> > Indoor composting can be done in two ways.
> > 1) is by using a completly sealed 'in-vessel' system. These can be
> > purchased -such as the 'Earth tub' they are expensive. They usually
> > of an insulated chamber within which is an auger or paddles to break up
> > aerate the material. Gases and odours are 'scrubbed' throgh a bio
> > and liquor is collected. In the UK we have been developing low tech
> > based on old chest freezers. These are insulated containers. A grid on
> > bottom of slatted wood allows air flow under neath (slots cut through
> > and fly mesh attatched. A plastic drainpie acts as a chimney. This can
> > stuffed with a mesh stocking with woodchip in to act as a bio-filter and
> > barrier. Liquor collected through floor can be watered down to be used
> > plant feed.
> > 2) More usual. Worm farming. Not really composting though. can only
> > with much smaller amounts than in-vessel. Needs high carbon 'soak'
> > materials like scrunched paper and cardboard to absorb liquid and
> > C:N ratio. Well documented elsewhere. try www.soilfoodweb.com ? try
> > search. Its Elaine Ingham's site or mine on www.othas.org.uk/dccn or
> > Nicky Scott
> > Chair Community Composting Network - UK
> > > Finally - and I hope that people do not mind my questions - does
> > > indoor composting? I was told by a friend that did that it would be
> > > to
> > > use a cedar wood box because it helps kill the odors. I have no means
> > > making one and can't find any cedar boxes of the size needed for
> > > compost. I would greatly appreciate your guidance. THANKS!
> > >
> > > Andrew C. Weidmann
> > > Special Education Teacher, Bedford Central School District
> > >
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