Hi all! As the weather heats up, I've been kicking into full gear to finish the outdoor vermicompost set-up. If you've read my previous post, I've been working on moving parts of the worm bed out of the basement and building a hot composter to pre-compost the waste before it goes into the worm beds. The IBC hot composter that I previously built is doing an effective job hot composting the food waste, unfortunately it is not big enough to hold all the food waste I get. To tackle this, I'm building a rotary composter that will hot compost more food waste than the IBC. It works similarly to the backyard tumbler compost systems, just bigger. I've finished the base (see image below) and hope to finish the rest in June. Wish me luck!
Thanks to the hot composting efforts, I have finally been harvesting worm castings again after such a long hiatus! It feels good to finally see beautiful black humus, falling from the worm beds again. In May, we composted 1811 lbs of food waste. I can tell as we enter into produce season that buckets are definitely getting heavier.
Though Bokashi did not prove an effective enough precompost method for me. It was great at reducing food waste odor and slowing down putrefaction. Therefore, I've been piloting lactoflakes with my worm hotel drop off members and I've opened a pilot monthly pickup program. My hope is that such efforts will allow me to pickup fuller buckets and run less pickups, which will allow me to spend less on hauling food scraps, creating savings I can pass along to members--a nut I've been trying to crack.
I also have exciting news. I accepted a Fellowship to study compost models abroad! My hope is that by meeting with and studying many different community compost programs I can bring home lessons to improve Back2TheDirt's compost efforts. That said, Back2TheDirt will still keep chugging along. In my absence, my brother (current Compost Cabbie) and my partner, Ernesto (you'll learn more about him soon), will be helping me oversee the operation. I'll still be available through email and text though, for the majority of the trip. But the pressure is on to get everything in order. Wish me luck! And, I wish you luck on all your summer adventures too!
Fun Fact: Worm poop boosts the nutrients available to plants, helping seeds to germinate more quickly, grow faster, develop better root systems and produce higher yields.