Better Backyard Composting Week

Hi Everyone,
I wanted to let everyone know that this is a bit of a special week here at RWC. All posts this week (with likely some overflow into next week) are going to relate to the topics of backyard vermicomposting and vermi-gardening – both of which feature prominently my soon-to-be-released video series, called “Better Backyard Composting”.

As the name likely implies, the main aim of the series is to help people to get more out of their composting efforts. Beyond using “normal” backyard composters (a topic that will certainly be covered) I also want to show that there are plenty of great “outside of the bin” options as well.

A big part of my motivation to put this course together came from the fact that there are SO MANY people up here in Ontario (and elsewhere I’m sure) that have backyard composters sitting out in their yards (often waaaaaay at the back, behind the shed – haha) basically doing nothing. I love the fact that so many municipalities up here give these bins (usually Earth Machines” or something similar) away to anyone and everyone who wants one – but it’s a real shame when you consider the fact that A) our tax dollars are, for the most part, being “wasted” on the program and B) a lot of people who are (potentially) interested in composting just aren’t getting involved.

And then there is the “Green” Bin program that’s been rolled out in my region during the last few years {SIGH}. While, in theory, I do like the idea of making this available (certainly some benefits – especially for materials that would otherwise get landfilled), the problem – in my humble opinion – is that it can send the wrong message to the public. Basically, “don’t worry about those nice compost bins we gave you, here is a new garbage can for you to use”. Just another “out of sight, out of mind” / “we’ll take care of it, don’t worry!” governmental initiative.

OK, now that I sound like some sort of anti-governmental subversive (haha), let’s look at the positive side of the matter! A big part of why I’m so passionate about this topic comes down to the simple fact that I’ve witnessed first-hand what can happen when you spend more time focusing on your backyard composting & eco-gardening efforts. As I explained/showed in my “Magic of Vermicompost” post, my own yard has undergone a pretty remarkable transformation over the past few years – especially “cool” given the fact that I’ve never been a particularly talented gardener (quite the opposite in fact) and, to this day, literally put zero effort into taking care of my lawn (other than cutting it periodically during the growing season). This experience has given me hope that by showing people the benefits of backyard composting etc, it will be easier to get more involved than by giving them free bins and boring them with cut-and-paste generic composting how-to info!

OK – enough about all that! Let’s get back to this week! Here are some of the things I will be writing about over the next few days:

1) I have some fun, NEW backyard projects to tell you about!
2) Popular topics revisited – will spend some time looking back some of my key backyard vermicomposting projects (such as vermicomposting trenches).
3) “Invasive” Earthworms – this is actually a topic I’ve been meaning to dig into for quite some time. It’s something I get asked about from time to time, and an issue that’s important to address when considering the use of composting worms out in our backyards.
4) Setting up a backyard composter for vermicomposting – I’ve written about this before (and it even came up quite recently), but it’s definitely a topic worthy of revisiting.
5) DIY backyard vermicomposting bins – while I’ve certainly mentioned my “wooden backyard worm bin” before, I’ve never really written (here) about its creation or the overall topic of DIY outdoor bins.

Do stay tuned! Should be fun.

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    • Anna
    • May 2, 2011

    This is exciting stuff, Bentley. I’m looking forward to the roll out and am particularly interested in the DIY bins and how they overwinter.

    • Terri
    • May 2, 2011

    Great timing! (I put some cocoons in my outdoor composting bin, but I have no idea whether they hatched or anything… it’s hardly scientific)

    • John Duffy
    • May 3, 2011

    Sounds exciting! Count me in…If everyone who reads this gets just 1 person involved & they in turn get just 1 person involved, before long composting & vermicomposting will be second nature.
    Thanks Bentley. I always look forward to whatever you have going on.

    • Bentley
    • May 3, 2011

    Thanks everyone!
    Should be a lot of fun, and help to get some interesting discussions going on the blog again.

  1. I’d love to see more. We’ve got the problem right now of composting chicken litter/manure/feathers from the coop. It is much too hot for worms, but I’m not happy with the open composting we’re doing now.

    • Bentley
    • May 3, 2011

    Great, Jillian!
    I connected with a local turkey farmer not too long ago and it looks as though I’m going to be able to get some turkey manure to “play with” (hopefully fairly soon). Will certainly be exploring various ways to use it in my outdoor systems! Can’t wait.

    • Steve L.
    • May 3, 2011

    I have the good fortune of having 2 Earth Machines, (one purchased, one given to me) and to me they spell double trouble to the local waste disposal company. One of them easily takes on ALL of my excess kitchen and some yard waste, but as my worm herd grows I will need more waste than I have. (I pre-compost in these for the worms.) I intend to look to my friendly neighbors, and maybe even the unfriendly ones… you know, in the spirit of converting them to be better neighbors… to get ALL of their kitchen waste. I already have one neighbor that every morning brings me his banana peels (2 per day) and puts them into the EM. Why give the mega-waste disposal companies your garbage when you can make great soil amendments for your own use!!

    • Bentley
    • May 3, 2011

    That’s great, Steve!
    I am pretty impressed with them myself. Only thing I don’t like is their tendency to pop apart, and the associated challenge of trying to get all the tabs lined up so the halves snap back together.
    Starting your own neighborhood waste collection initiative is certainly a cool idea – and something I intended to mention in the course as well.
    I certainly understand how the demands of backyard composting systems (filled with hungry wigglers) can grow over time!

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