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Jumbo Garbage Garden

Garbage Garden
My dad surveys the patch of land he groomed for our garbage garden.

Just when I thought I might have to scale back my restaurant food waste vermicomposting project – due to the accumulation of excess waste, with no place to put it – my dad came to the rescue, suggesting that we start up some composting projects on his property. He has a fair amount of available garden space and a lot more privacy than I do, so it should be a great opportunity to really test out some different methods.

Our first project will simply involve converting his old vegetable garden into a ‘garbage garden‘. My hope is that with enough food waste and ‘bedding’ materials, this system will make an excellent winter home for lots of composting worms, and will become the ultimate grow bed for whatever we decide to plant in it next spring!

garbage gardening
Putting my dad to work digging trenches, while I barked commands from behind the camera (haha)

In an effort to really take advantage of the space, I decided to start with a series of shallow composting trenches. There will likely be 6 or 7 of these, covered with a thin layer of soil. Next we will start piling up materials directly over top of the soil. It is going to be really important to add LOTS of bulky absorbent ‘browns’, such as cardboard. Aside from soaking up and holding lots of moisture, this will help to maintain aerobic conditions in the bed. I will also be adding lots of straw, and brown leaves (once available in the fall) to cover up the waste materials and create more good habitat for the composting worms (and other helpful critters).

Should be really interesting to see how this pans out! So far so good. It’s been great taking a bit of a break from adding new materials to my own trenches and beds – it’s allowed the worms to play ‘catch up’, and has helped me avoid seriously offending any of my neighbours.

Stay tuned!

[tags]composting, compost, garbage, gardening, food waste, lasagna gardening, lasagna composting, worm bed, composting worms, compost worms, red worms, red wigglers[/tags]

Written by Compost Guy on July 30th, 2008 with 7 comments.
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#1. August 1st, 2008, at 4:37 PM.

Do you have a plan for over-wintering the worms in the trenches? Are they sacrificial, or do you plan to dig them out and keep them in bins until the next thaw?

I need a VermiConsultant to come tell me what to do next with my own two bins. They started out in my basement, but are now housed in my garage due to my loss of patience with the fungus gnats. I’ve started finding a few housefly maggots in them as well, unfortunately, so I’m wondering what I can do with them when the weather starts turning colder.

My entire reason for starting vermicomposting was so that I could compost my kitchen waste during the winter, when my outdoor heap is inaccessible (snowed under, too cold to take the scraps out, etc). So I would love to have them be indoor bins again; I just don’t know if I can rid the bins of the worms’ little juvenile-delinquent buddies, the gnats and flies, in time. Any advice?

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#2. August 2nd, 2008, at 5:04 PM.

Good questions
The worms are definitely not sacrificial – if bedded down enough they should be totally fine during the winter. This particular bed should actually be quite warm during the winter since it will have a constant supply of food scraps being added to it.

My other smaller systems will likely get a thick layer of fall leaves over them and be left to sit. It’s not likely that the contents of a trench would entirely freeze solid. I had red worms overwinter successfully in one of my regular backyard composters last year without any help from me (and it gets pretty cold here). Worse case scenario, the material will be loaded with cocoons, and there will be a new population in the spring once it warms up a bit.

Fungus gnats and fruit flies are incredibly annoying, and I still battle them all the time. Simply fruit fly traps consisting of a narrow neck bottle with apple cider vinegar (and a drop of soap) work surprisingly well, as does a vacuum cleaner. Strangely enough, I seem to be trapping adult fungus gnats in my cider traps as well.

I tried out a biological control organism (predatory nematode) for fungus gnats and it worked quite well – but it costs a fair bit and I’m not convinced that it will continue to work over time.

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#3. August 4th, 2008, at 10:34 PM.

I haven’t gone through all your archives yet, but I was wondering if you ever put shredded office paper in for your worms?

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#4. August 5th, 2008, at 2:20 PM.

I am looking for local sources (Region of Waterloo) of red wigglers. Any suggestions? How much do they cost?

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#5. August 5th, 2008, at 2:42 PM.

I prefer not to use TOO much shredded office paper simply because it can contain bleach and other chemicals that can harm the worms. I actually did add a fair amount to one of my vermicomposting trenches this year though.
If you do use it, I’d suggest mixing with other materials such as newsprint and shredded cardboard.

Anne – please check out – I think I may be able to help you out there!

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#6. September 9th, 2008, at 1:54 PM.

How do you keep animals from scrounging through a garbage garden?

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#7. October 11th, 2008, at 11:03 AM.

self sufficient life » Worms in supply chain management: just found out that Compost Guy is doing the same, he calls it “Garbage Gardening”. I think if you…

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