‘Now’ reporter gets lesson in composting in White Rock – Surrey Now Article

Posted by on Nov 4, 2011 in Blog, Community Garden, Food Growing, Landscape Design, Media, Workshops | 1 comment

‘Now’ reporter gets lesson in composting in White Rock – Surrey Now Article

By Amy Reid, Surrey NOW October 19, 2011

WHITE ROCK – It’s no news to anyone that composting is a way to turn garbage into gold. But I had never taken the time to learn how the whole process works – or how to do it for myself.

As a child, my mom had an outdoor composter set up, but my job was simply to throw the acceptable food waste items into a bin under the sink. I never questioned, or understood, the science behind it. When I saw that a composting workshop was being offered in White Rock, I jumped on it.

Lora Frost, an organic master gardener and holistic landscape designer, hosted the workshop, held on Oct. 8 at the White Rock Community Garden. One of the first things Lora said was that compost holds 1,000 times more water than mineral soil, and I was sold (not that I wasn’t already). In my first year of home gardening I saw minimal successes, so this factoid inspired me! Lora also said that when soil is enriched with compost, it increases the plants’ resistance to diseases and parasites. Another bonus, I thought to myself, because my tomatoes and other neighbouring plants got aphids this year.

Lora went over three types of composters in this workshop: worm bins, passive/outdoor bins and active/Bokashi bins. I’m going to tell you all about the worm bins and the Bokashi bins because I found them most interesting.

First up was the worm bin. Lora told us how to set one up. It starts with a plastic bin. “You’re not looking for height,” Lora said of the bin, “you’re looking for width and length.” The next step is to drill several holes near the top of the bin around its perimeter. Lora said the best, most efficient type of worm for a worm composter is the “red wriggler.” She said they break down the food fastest and can tolerate a wide range of temperatures. The next step is to shred newspapers into one-inch strips and fill the bin with them so it’s almost full. Then it’s time to add water to the newspaper in the bin and mix it all around.

“You want to add enough so that it’s damp, but not wet. Sort of like a rung-out sponge,” she said. And it’s time to add the worms – about a half-pound of the wrigglers for a medium-sized bin – and some soil. Lora said the worms like the newspaper, but they also like cardboard, toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls. “Just stay away from anything glossy,” she said. Finally, it’s time to add food. This can be things like egg shells, coffee grounds, tea bags and green waste. Lora warned to stay away from dairy and meat.

She said to also stay away from throwing tough skins in, such as avocado, orange or grapefruit skins, because they take too long to break down in this type of composter. Once the composter is ready, Lora said to take a full newspaper and stretch it across the top of the bin and wet it on both sides. “The newspaper on top creates an even temperature throughout the bin,” she said.

Once this is done, the bin must be left inside or somewhere it won’t get too cold. Then, you simply leave the bin for six weeks and voila – gold for your garden! But before you use it, Lora said to take sweet, raw fruits, such as apples, pears or plums, and place them on top of the mixture, covering it with newspaper.

“This will draw the worms to the top,” she said, adding that you can then use them for your next round of compost. To get the compost into your soil, she said you can sprinkle it around the top of the soil and water it in, or you can dig it into the soil. She does this every two weeks in her gardens. “But don’t use it in potted plants,” she warned. “It’s too rich and it will burn your plants.”

Another type of composter that Lora talked about was a Bokashi bin. This process does its work without any air. You basically throw your food scraps into the bin – which must be purchased – and every time you do, you add a bit of “Bokashi bran” to the mixture. The food decomposes and a spout at the bottom of the bin allows you to access the liquid mush compost.They say you can even put dairy and meat into it, unlike traditional composts, Lora said. It sure seems a lot simpler than the worm bin, I thought to myself. So even if you think you don’t have time to compost – you do.

The Bokashi bin makes it easy – instead of just throwing scraps in the garbage, simply throw them in the Bokashi, and wait.

Visit UrbanEdenDesign.ca.

© Copyright (c) Surrey Now
By Amy Reid, Surrey NOW October 19, 2011

Read more: http://www.thenownewspaper.com/reporter+gets+lesson+composting+White+Rock/5575905/story.html#ixzz1cko930cL

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