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Mary Lowther column: Getting wormy with the composting

By all accounts, a worm composter should solve my problem
Gardener Mary Lowther is on the lookout for a wooden box to turn into a worm composter. (Metro Creative Services photo)

By Mary Lowther

When one becomes accustomed to putting leftovers in the compost pile, tossing them into the garbage feels a tad sacrilegious; all those nutrients that should be returned to the soil are instead sent to the landfill. While waiting for garbage pickup day, the food scraps will decompose faster than Beethoven, broadcasting an overture of emanations that invites every carrion eater in the vicinity to find out just how “bear proof” the bins really are.

This upsets the dog and that interrupts my beauty sleep, but what does one do with compostables in the winter when the heap is a substantial trudge through ankle deep mud and torrential downpour?

Last winter I set up a temporary wire enclosure near the house and tossed cut up blackberry vines on each addition, but four legged vandals still broke through and scattered the pile.

I had heard of worm composting so I looked into it to discover that many people are already doing this to deal with their winter scraps, including the Green Community in Duncan. “We’ve been doing it for years,” the gal on the Community’s phone assured me. Where have I been? I thought worm composting was just for people in apartments who didn’t have access to an outside heap.

A worm composter needs holes in the bottom for fluids to drain out and a tray underneath to catch the drips. A lid prevents worms from climbing out and a few holes should be drilled in the sides for air. I’ve read that they don’t smell, but do they attract fruit flies? The worms prefer a temperature between 15 C and 27 C, about the same temperature range as humans, so I’d have to locate them where it doesn’t get cold at night. Perhaps a cover of Reemay would keep out fruit flies and a blanket would keep it warm at night.

Although every worm composter I’ve seen is made of plastic, I want to use something else because no matter what kind of plastic is used, I think something from them will leach into the compost. After all the effort I put into growing nutritious, chemical-free food, I don’t want to contaminate it with compost from a plastic bin, so I’m on the lookout for a wooden box. By all accounts, a worm composter should solve my problem. The bears and raccoons will prowl elsewhere, Monkey the wonder dog will sleep undisturbed and, therefore, so shall I.

Please contact with questions and suggestions since I need all the help I can get.