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Re: [GreenYes] indoor composting
Nicky,

I am not convinced you can compost even as much material in the same space
as vermicomposting, to say nothing of more.

By space I mean floor space, surface area, square feet, or acres, eh?

Yes, you have to put small layers of materials on a vermicomposting flow
through system to avoid overheating---but you can do that and harvest every
day or so.

Pre-composting has its place, no doubt about that, especially where weed
seed control is needed. Some researchers here in Quebec actually found
pre-composting certain animal manures killed off a nematode that parasitizes
compost worms themselves, which is, they claimed, a good thing, but...

Notwithstanding the current FMD-phobia in the UK, I doubt that the hot phase
of composting some claim is so crucial, is in fact going to be as effective
as a fully functional complex foodweb of the kind found in rich soil,
mesophilic composts and vermicomposts in fighting various diseases and pest
problems, once the science is fully fleshed out.

Nor is weed seed control a universal good. For pasture purposes, for
example, a composting method that destroys pathogens while leaving seeds
viable is good to replenish seed supplies on pasture soils, especially where
the pastures are managed intensively and never allowed to set seed. Lots of
grass, clover and useful forb seed that would be destroyed in hot composting
can play a very useful role in this context.

Anyway, fast vermicomposting is possible and makes a higher throughput per
unit area, if proper feedstocks and other conditions are met, a reality
compared to conventional composting. Add that to the potential premium for
worm castings in the marketplace, and you may have a winning alternative to
regular composting.

For home and small business scale vermicomposting I doubt seriously if you
can find a better system than something like the Worm Wigwam:

http://www.niehs.nih.gov/kids/worm2.htm

If you have a small composting system that takes up less or the same space
and can handle the same amount of materials I would sure like to see it!

Frank Teuton


----- Original Message -----
From: "Nicky Scott" <NScott@devon.gov.uk>
To: "Frank Teuton" <fteuton@sympatico.ca>
Cc: <greenyes@grrn.org>
Sent: Monday, September 09, 2002 7:37 AM
Subject: RE: [GreenYes] indoor composting


> 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
> morning!
> 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!
> Nicky Scott
> Chair of community composting network UK


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