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Old 19th August 2018, 13:38   #1
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Smile Doing my bit: Vermicomposting at Home

Vermicomposting at Home

Driving a diesel sedan in Delhi made me feel guilty. Reducing consumption didn’t make me feel any better so, started looking for options on how I could reduce my carbon footprint. Bought houseplants and one day while searching on how to care for houseplants found out about Vermicomposting. Dug a bit deeper and thought why not to start? It would reduce the guilt I was having as well as my contribution to filling up landfills.

Vermi-Composting is nothing but composting with the help of worms.



Now, you might be wondering what is the use and why when there is already door step garbage collection available?

It is because it has many benefits, some of them I’ll mention here:
  • All the food which is thrown away decomposes in landfills and produces methane, which is a greenhouse gas and causes global warming. It helps in preventing global warming.
  • 100% Organic fertiliser (also known as Black Gold) is an outcome of the process.
  • Worm Tea - Liquid fertiliser can be prepared from this compost.
  • Waste production is reduced and gives a chance to become more eco-friendly.
  • Organic fruits and vegetables can be grown from this compost.

Time Required:

It just takes 2 hours once to get started and once when the bin is full and compost is ready to be harvested. Even if you can’t spare time, almost all of us have domestic staff/keepers which do our household chores. They can do it for you, just teach them on how to do it. It’s a one time thing.

To get started 2 dustbins are required - One for wet waste and another for dry waste. Wet Waste dustbin should have all the degradable materials such as fruit and vegetable peels, tea bags etc. Dry Bin should have materials which are non biodegradable such as plastic wrappers, packaging materials, etc.

Where to get the worms from?

Worms can be purchased from any local nursery, or any acquittance who does vermicomposting and can share these with you. Only few of them are required as they multiply rapidly. If you can’t get them from these sources then “Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK)” keeps them. Just locate the nearest KVK. They retail for Rs. 250/kg. Even agricultural universities stock them.

How to make a home for them?

Materials Required:
  1. Earthen Pot (Recommended) or any container
  2. A stand for earthen pot
  3. A storage container to collect excess water which percolates.
  4. Coco Peat / Coconut Coir
  5. Old Shredded Newspapers / Cardboard (Amazon, Flipkart packaging boxes)
  6. Red Wigglers Worms
  7. Old Food scraps

How to set it up
  1. An Earthen Pot with a lid & stand - Lid is required to protect worms from foreign objects and light. Worms hate light and whenever they sense it they start burrowing deep to avoid it. Under the stand keep a container to collect Leachate. Leachate can be reused in the bin after 1-2 days.

    Doing my bit: Vermicomposting at Home-pot.jpg
  2. Holes for ventilation - Holes need to be made on the pot for ventilation. Though earthen pots have microscopic holes, still a bit large holes are recommended. You can drill the holes or ask the pot seller to do it for you.

    Doing my bit: Vermicomposting at Home-ventilation-holes.jpg
  3. Make a hole at the bottom of the container to let water percolate. The liquid which is collected at the bottom of the pot is called leachate. It can be reused by diluting it in water or putting it back in the bin after 1-2 days.

    Doing my bit: Vermicomposting at Home-holes-under-pot.jpg
  4. Stuff in some wet newspapers in the pot. This creates bedding for them.
  5. Stuff in some coco peat or coconut coir as they retain moisture. Worms need wet surroundings for their survival. Even their body is made up of about 90% water.
  6. Put in some food scraps
  7. Put in worms over the food scraps
  8. Occasionally spray some water and you’re done!

Items which can be put in the bin:

Food scraps which contain SALT and CITRUS should be avoided. Scraps like fruit peels, vegetable peels, boiled vegetables, rice without SALT, tea/coffee filters/bags, paper with black ink, leaves, crushed egg shells. Even meat and other products can be put in but they attract rodents flies and other insects, so they are not recommended.

Doing my bit: Vermicomposting at Home-feeding-them.jpg
Source: The Squirm Firm

Fun Fact: Worms cannot harm humans in any form so there is no need to be afraid of them. They don’t have eyes or teeth so they cannot follow or bite you. They breathe through their skin. They hate light and even if for once they escape from container they cannot move beyond 2-2.5 feet (Maximum distance they can crawl on land).

Some mistakes which you may make:

Overfeeding - Overfeeding is the most common cause of killing the worms. What actually happens is when you put in too much scraps which they can’t eat the scraps start to decompose and while it happens it raises the temperature of the bin and makes whole bin anaerobic.

Feeding Salty/Lime Products - Never put in any product which contains salt so it is advisable to put in scraps which are natural and unprocessed like vegetable peels, fruit peels, tea/coffee bags etc. Sugar is acceptable but it may attract ants if not covered properly in bedding.

Watering - The bin needs a certain level of moisture so watering is a must but it can be done after a few days, everyday is not required. My bin can sustain more than a week of water but I usually water it on weekend.

A worm can eat half his weight in a day. So put the scraps according to the quantity you have.

Result

The final compost looks like tea - soft non-sticky and pure black.

Name:  Vermicompost.jpg
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(Source: Google Images)

I had put mango scraps in and from a kernel, this plant started.

Doing my bit: Vermicomposting at Home-bin-kernel.jpg
Seedling from kernel

Doing my bit: Vermicomposting at Home-mango-plant-kernel.jpg

This is my bit of conserving environment and reducing waste from landfills which in some parts of our country are now as high as Qutub Minar. If some people start composting after reading my post at their homes, colonies, societies my purpose of writing this post is fulfilled. This is how we can contribute our bit to save the environment!

Last edited by Aditya : 20th August 2018 at 08:54. Reason: Typo
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Old 20th August 2018, 09:03   #2
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Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 20th August 2018, 10:09   #3
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Default Re: Doing my bit: Vermicomposting at Home

Great initiative. How and when one should take out the compost? How to control the population of worms?
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Old 20th August 2018, 13:57   #4
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This is a very informative thread. Thanks a lot @batish for planting this seed in my mind. Will be doing some research on how to get started.
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Old 20th August 2018, 17:20   #5
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Thank you for this thread. It has motivated me to contribute my mite towards conservation.
regards,
Ashok
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Old 20th August 2018, 17:35   #6
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Default Re: Doing my bit: Vermicomposting at Home

Quote:
Originally Posted by batish View Post
Vermicomposting at Home
Thanks a lot for sharing. We too have been doing composting for kitchen waste. Except for meat / bones, everything bio degradable goes into this. This is just our second (or third) batch. The best part, our garbage outgo has significantly reduced. Only plastic, cardboard and others goes out. It has a mesh thing from the inside that prevents flies coming close to it and surprisingly is odour free which means it can be kept indoors. It came with about 1/4th feed when we got it. Every time it gets full, we leave about 75% of the feed in the society garden and the remaining 25% acts like a catalyst for the next batch. A periodic mixing might be needed once every 2-3 days for best results. For a family of 3, takes us about 2-3 months to fill it up.

Here are some pics:
Doing my bit: Vermicomposting at Home-whatsapp-image-20180820-17.26.41.jpeg

Doing my bit: Vermicomposting at Home-whatsapp-image-20180820-17.26.40-1.jpeg

Doing my bit: Vermicomposting at Home-whatsapp-image-20180820-17.26.40.jpeg

Last edited by blackwasp : 20th August 2018 at 17:36.
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Old 20th August 2018, 21:20   #7
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Originally Posted by Blow Horn Ok View Post
Great initiative. How and when one should take out the compost? How to control the population of worms?
When your bin is full you can sieve out the compost, it'll be more convenient. OR you can start putting the scraps on the one side of the container if it is rectangular one and worms will shift on that side.

You can use a sieve like this.

Name:  img55539453.jpg
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Source: Google Images

Quote:
Originally Posted by strawhat View Post
This is a very informative thread. Thanks a lot @batish for planting this seed in my mind.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ashphil View Post
Thank you for this thread. It has motivated me to contribute my mite towards conservation.
regards,
Ashok
Welcome! Fulfills my purpose.

Quote:
Originally Posted by blackwasp View Post
It has a mesh thing from the inside that prevents flies coming close to it and surprisingly is odour free which means it can be kept indoors. A periodic mixing might be needed once every 2-3 days for best results. For a family of 3, takes us about 2-3 months to fill it up.
Initially, even I thought of using a plastic container as it is readily available. But after researching I found plastic is not very suitable for weather in northern part of our country and it has to be kept indoor due to temperature. Moreover, had to drill more holes for the size of the pot which I am using if I had got plastic one. So I avoided it and got the eco-friendly natural pots.

I don't mix them though it still works out fine.
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Old 23rd August 2018, 17:23   #8
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Default Re: Doing my bit: Vermicomposting at Home

Great to see the interest in composting waste right at the source

I have been doing vermicomposting for 5 years.

My setup is 2 large Concrete pots. The idea of having 2 is just to give nature enough time and volume to the whole process.

I had great success with pure vermicomposting with Red Wrigglers. We are vegetarian so there was never an issue with meat waste. Things were working great.
Then over a period of time I realized then a different set of worms have infested the waste bin. I keep the bin open and in my covered terrace so very good chance of something else getting attacked and making it a home. The composting was still working and I didn't want to tinker with nature. So i let the new worms stay and process the waste. Infact the speed of food getting processed had increased a lot with the new worms. On doing some research i found that I had 2 sets of guests. One was Black soldier fly (BSF) larve and another were Fig worms. Both are great at processing food at a much frantic pace than red wrigglers.

Its a myth that you can't add cooked food to a worm bin. We add bread, rice, vegetable anything and everything that is a food waste (Except spoilt milk more on that later). All you have to do it drain out excess water and oil from the food. Say you have a stable bowl of potato vegetable, just soak it in water for 10 mins drain out the water and then throw it in. Soaking it in water is critical so that the oil and excess salt etc get thrown away in the kitchen drain and the organic matter goes into the bin. When adding cooked food add a handful of cocopeat or some other brown material to control the moisture. Too much moisture in the bin makes its anerobic and then it can start stinking. The secret to no smell is to keep the bin dry. But you still need moisture for the microorganism to survice and multiply. Its really easy to find the right balance and get best of both worlds. Once in a while I make it a point to add whey (water on top of Dahi) and diluted butter milk which add more beneficial bacteria to the bin and helps population of good bacteria.

The key to composting is not thinking too much and doing as little as possible. Its like a passive investement. If you check the progress everyday you will feel nothing is happening. Check it only once a week and you realize that nature is working its magic.


We usually cook moderate quantity and throw out almost nothing. So I never bothered about how to best process cooked food. But when we started using composting pits in our apartment complex people were not keen on seperating out meet and stale food etc from other things that can be put in vermicompost. So I started looking for other options.

I read a lot of material on Anerobic composting. I think Bokashi composting is the answer to composting inhouse and that too with just a small container of a closed drum that can be easily kept under the kitchen sink. I didnt want to spend a lot on buying bokashi specific bucket so i experiemented and found a way that is works for me.
Bokashi needs about 2-4 weeks for the waste to be processed by fungus and anerobic bacteria. Then at end of 2 weeks i just throw the bokashi composted waste into my normal compost bin. Since the materials have already broken down in bokashi it breaks down even faster in the worm bin.
The good thing about Bokashi is that you can add any kind of food into it. Meat, Dairy anything and everything can be added. The key again is to not add too much liquid. The bokashi bucket needs to stay moist but not dripping wet. The food we throw away has enough moisture so there is never a need to add any water to bokashi.

IMO Anyone with some spare space should start vermicomposting. Add to that people living in small apartments can definitely have a bokashi setup inhouse and then throw away the fermented stuff into a common composting pit every 2-3 weeks. This is best of both worlds.

Last edited by freedom : 23rd August 2018 at 17:27.
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Old 27th August 2018, 11:22   #9
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Default Re: Doing my bit: Vermicomposting at Home

This is a great thread considering we need to reduce our carbon footprint. Segregating waste and taking care of our own wet waste is a much needed step in our attempt to clean the environment.

I have been composting for about 18 months. I use plastic bins from Greentechlife. This is an indoor composting setup which is aerobic (as opposed to anaerobic). Its very simple to do - actually takes up only 2-3 minutes daily.

The first step is to segregate and keep aside our wet waste - vegetable & fruit peels, coffee grinds, tea leaves, leftover spoilt food, dairy, even non-veg (bones, fish, etc). This waste needs to be kept in an air-tight container so that it does not attract flies and insects.

Segregating waste and keeping it in an air tight container:
Doing my bit: Vermicomposting at Home-img_20180827_105154726.jpg

Once a day I empty this waste into the bin and add Bio Bloom Air which is a layering powder made of cocopeat charged with microbes.

The bin (aerobic composting has a mesh on top for air):
Doing my bit: Vermicomposting at Home-img_20180827_105035120.jpg

This is what it looks like from inside:
Doing my bit: Vermicomposting at Home-img_20180827_105103496.jpg

Compost ready (about 30-45 days later):
Doing my bit: Vermicomposting at Home-img_20180827_105134859.jpg

There is also a liquid that collects at the bottom which is extremely beneficial for plants. It can also be used as a drain cleaner because the microbes in it eat up all the muck.

The cost of a two 20 litre bin set up (enough for a family of 4) is about Rs. 3000. Initial running cost (which is the cost of Bio Bloom Air powder) is about Rs. 250 a month. This cost gets reduced to Rs. 50 a month after 3-4 months since you can use your old compost to do the layering.

So its quite fantastic and satisfying!!
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Old 27th August 2018, 12:34   #10
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Excellent initiative @batish; the original post + the add-on advice from others is extremely useful.

Sharing this with a larger audience
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Old 29th August 2018, 00:45   #11
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There is also a liquid that collects at the bottom which is extremely beneficial for plants. It can also be used as a drain cleaner because the microbes in it eat up all the muck.
It's called leachate. I didn't have pleasant experience with it. I used it in two plants and they died, maybe I diluted them incorrectly. So I started re-using it in the bin itself.

Quote:
The cost of a two 20 litre bin set up (enough for a family of 4) is about Rs. 3000. Initial running cost (which is the cost of Bio Bloom Air powder) is about Rs. 250 a month. This cost gets reduced to Rs. 50 a month after 3-4 months since you can use your old compost to do the layering.
That's steep! I have two 40L pots (post #1), they costed around 500 including their stands.

Quote:
So its quite fantastic and satisfying!!
Indeed, it is!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ninjatalli View Post
Excellent initiative @batish; the original post + the add-on advice from others is extremely useful.

Sharing this with a larger audience
Thank you so much!
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Old 29th August 2018, 05:56   #12
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It's called leachate. I didn't have pleasant experience with it. I used it in two plants and they died, maybe I diluted them incorrectly. So I started re-using it in the bin itself.
Yes, the leachate smells a lot. It needs to be diluted 30-40 times by volume with water and then used in plants. Use little of it - for a 12 inch pot with a medium size plant I use less than 100ml of the diluted liquid and it works well. Also use it only once in 10-15 days at the maximum. None of my plants have died due to it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by batish View Post
That's steep! I have two 40L pots (post #1), they costed around 500 including their stands.
Rs. 3000 sounds steep. But for us who live in a 5th floor apartment the plastic bins work very well. Easy to use, no smell, no flies, insects or rodents. And the buckets are likely to last long - maybe 8-10 years if handled carefully. The bins can be kept anywhere in the house including the kitchen.

Thanks for starting this discussion. I feel more and more people need to start thinking about this and doing it.

Last edited by Samurai : 29th August 2018 at 07:51. Reason: quote fixed
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