Friday, 20 September 2013

Victoria Compost Education Center

I've been considering a worm compost for our family. I first heard about vermiculture while browsing usedvictoria for fruit trees from which to glean. I was intrigued but also a little disgusted - I mean, worms are SO gross! The more I read about composting, the less my face wrinkled up. I began to understand the very important role the little wrigglers play in the cycle of life. Quite simply, our food waste is combined with leaves, which the worms eat and digest. What they poop out is fertilizing soil for our gardens. The gardens give us food, and the cycle repeats itself.

Now that I am not so grossed out about worm composting, I am looking for ways to overcome some challenges: fruit flies, stench, location for the bin, harvesting the compost soil, keeping the kids out of the bin, et cetera. If I am diligent with keeping the right balance between wet and dry items for the worms, both the stench and the fruit flies should be a non-issue. I can do that by keeping some junk mail at hand and putting it in with the cut up food scraps. Although we do not have frigid winters here (Hardiness Zone 9a), I do not want to keep my little worms outside on the balcony. I could stow them under the sink, next to the garbage. That would be convenient and help us think twice before sending compostables to the anaerobic landfill. I am sure the novelty of having pet worms will wear off eventually, and the kids' curiosity will move on to something else.

By the time spring rolls around, my initial 1-pound worm bin family will have quadrupled and it will be time to harvest the castings. The Victoria Compost Education Center recommends a couple of ways to do this: the migration method and the tarp method. The former seems like a more intensive process than the latter, but the tarp method seems to require more space to harvest. We don't have access to a yard, so it is more likely that I will be feeding my worms on one side of the bin, while I harvest on the other side.

We went to the Victoria Compost Education Center to hear a talk about vermicomposting. JahJ was excited to go to a class to talk about worms. I wanted him to be ready to sit and hear what the presenter had to say. I also wanted to know why certain items (cooked foods, meats, fish...) were off limits to vermiculture.

Clare was quick to get the children engaged in her presentation. Together, we came up with some guidelines to get the most out  of the experience: when we got too loud from excitement, she would wiggle like a worm and say "cool composting worm" and the decibels would decrease. When she showed us how much garbage our city sends to the landfill daily, we were both impressed and embarrassed. When we got too close and crowded, she instructed us to get back to our seats, assuring us that we would all get to see the worms, even hold one, if we wanted to.

We were each given a piece of newspaper to shred for the compost bed we were going to make. We mixed in some leaves and previous compost so the worms would be cozy in their new home.

Lastly, to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle" we sang a "Wiggle, Wiggle, little worm" lullaby.

There is a follow-up program offered in the spring. We will get to see how these worms are doing and harvest the castings. This would be a good opportunity for me to bring in my worm bin and harvest alongside the presenter. I think this is what makes having a worm compost doable for us. We will practically have private tutoring for the most difficult part of the journey!


  1. Eunice, I am so inspired--by this post, and by your site in total. I love the holistic approach you're taking to interacting with your environment, and how what you consume, what you grow, and how you get from one place to another are all important. I wish you luck from (not too) far away California in your projects and endeavors up in B.C. Take care, and keep sharing!

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read. I think it's important to remember that, no matter how small, every action helps or hinders our cause(s). We only have one planet Earth: let's pedal hard to keep it green!