Vermicompost

I give up! I bought a worm bin. I was trying to save money by making my own worm bin but eventually the plastic cracked and I found it difficult to separate the compost from the worms. I’m lazy and it got too stressful so after a year of experimenting, I bought a worm bin.

Attempt #1
Compost Bin

When I started composting about a year ago, I started with this. I found this bin lying around so I cleaned it, drilled holes and filled it with dried leaves, twigs, dirt and food waste. It didn’t take long to fill up the bin especially in the fall. I even watered it every once in a while but I was not seeing any results.

Turning the stuff around in the bin was a bit problematic. After a few months I decided to find another way to compost because this was taking too long. I now use this bin to store leaves collected in the fall. It’s my storage bin for brown stuff. When you start composting, you will know that it is important to have a balance of green and brown stuff.

Attempt #2

Worm Bin 1

My second attempt was to use a different type of plastic bin. When decluttering, I found two opaque plastic bins and I decided to make this one instead. Eventually the bottom bin collapsed when the plastic became brittle and it could not handle the weight of the top bin.

Problems:

  • The plastic bin is relatively deep so there is a tendency to overfill the bin which may be a problem for the worms.
  • I find it difficult to separate the compost from the bin.
    • One method is to transfer everything into piles and slowly remove the top of the pile as the worms move to the bottom of the pile. It takes a while for the worms to move to the bottom of the pile and it can get pretty messy.
    • Another method is divide the bin into two sides. Bury the food waste on one side of the bin. Leave it for a few weeks so the worms migrate to the other side and you can harvest the compost from the opposite side. It’s not as simple as that because some of the worms in the opposite side were still not done eating food waste from several months ago.
    • Another method is to sieve the compost from the worms and the eggs. That’s too much equipment and I’m too lazy to bother with this.
  • Forget about installing a spigot. I don’t have the equipment, skill or energy to do it.

Introducing, my latest attempt.

Worm Bin 2

I wish I bought this sooner. This is the Worm Factory 360. I bought this because it was the largest capacity and it gives me the ability to expand up to eight trays.

The tray is of the right height so it is unlikely for you to overfill the tray. The design of the trays makes it easier for me to sift the compost from the worms. It comes with a thermometer to gauge whether the worm bin is too wet or dry.

I’ve since transferred the contents of my previous worm bin into this worm bin and I’m looking forward to harvesting compost without any fuss.

If you live in Los Angeles County, you can buy cheaper worm bins at their Smart Gardening Workshop. I decided on this model because it was easier to buy extra trays or parts if I ever need it. Also, I scored an Amazon gift card which helped me purchase this.

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Free Mulch

If you are looking for free mulch around Los Angeles, check out the following Mulch Give Away locations. For flyer and map, click here: Free Mulch.

Boyle Heights (Council District #14)

Address: 850 North Mission Road, Los Angeles 90033
Mulch delivered to this location: Thursdays (compost) and Fridays (mulch)
Hours of operation: Everyday 7:00am- 5:00pm

East L.A. (Council District #14)

Address: 2646 East Washington Boulevard, Los Angeles 90023
Mulch delivered to this location: Wednesdays
Hours of operation: Everyday 7:00am- 5:00pm

Elysian Valley (Council District #13)

Address: 3000 Gilroy Street, Los Angeles  90039
Mulch delivered to this location: Mondays and Thursdays
Hours of operation: Everyday 7:00am-5:00pm

Griffith Park (Council District #4)

Address: across from 5400 Griffith Park Drive, Los Angeles 90027
Compost and mulch delivered to this location: Everyday (except weekends)
Hours of operation: Everyday 7:00am-5:00pm

Lake View Terrace  (Council District #7)

Address: 11950 Lopez Canyon Road, San Fernando Valley, CA 91342
Mulch Delivered to this Location: Everyday (except weekend)
Hours of operation: Everyday 7:00am-5:00pm

Lincoln Heights (Council District #1)

Address: 1903 Humboldt Street, Los Angeles 90031
Mulch delivered to this location: Monday and Thursday
Hours of operation: Everyday 7:00am-5:00pm

North Hills (Council District #12)

Address: 16600 Roscoe Place, North Hills 91343
Mulch delivered to this location: Wednesdays and Fridays
Hours of operation: Everyday 7:00am-6:00pm

North Hollywood (Council District #2)

Address: Corner of Vineland Avenue & West Chandler Boulevard, San Fernando Valley 91601
Mulch delivered to this location: Mondays and Thursdays
Hours of operation: Everyday 7:00am-5:00pm

San Pedro (Council District #15)

Address: 1400 North Gaffey Street, San Pedro 90731
Mulch delivered to this location: Fridays
Hours of operation: Everyday 7:00am-5:00pm

Van Nuys (Council District #6)

Address: 15800 Victory Boulevard, San Fernando Valley 91406
Entrance South of Densmore Avenue Intersection
Mulch delivered to this location: Mondays
Hours of operation: Monday -Friday, 7:00am-3:00pm

West Los Angeles (Council District #10)

Address: 6001 Bowcroft Street, Los Angeles 90016
Mulch delivered to this location: Tuesdays and Thursdays
Hours of operation: Everyday 7:00am-5:00pm

Source: https://www.lacitysan.org

Back to Eden Gardening

I am not born with green thumbs. In fact, last year, I spent all summer in my garden and I only produced one teeny weeny tomato. This year, I have so far produced two teeny weeny tomatoes, one pepper, some swiss chards and herbs. There is some slight progress but so much work involved in the garden and so much money spent buying supplies. It makes me think that it is cheaper to buy fruits and vegetables from the supermarket. There has to be an easier way to do this with less effort and for cheaper.

I was watching Starry Hilder’s Channel on YouTube and she talks about Back to Eden gardening a lot. I have to admit that I ignored all videos referencing Back to Eden gardening because of its religious references. I am not religious and there is only so much religious references that I can handle at one time. However, I was not able to ignore how great her garden looks and all the bountiful produce grown on her land. I would be happy if I can achieve half of that. That prompted me to watch the video on Back to Eden gardening and ignore all the religious references.

Paul Gautschi is behind the Back to Eden method and he even made a film about it. The idea is to imitate nature which creates a self sustainable ecosystem with minimal maintenance. The idea is to prepare the soil by covering it with wood chips. The wood chips would compost over the soil and the nutrients from the compost would seep into the soil. Further, the wood chips is able to keep the moisture of the soil from evaporating. The idea is to continually cover the wood chips with more wood chips and let nature takes it course. This method is suppose to reduce the amount water required because water is retained within the soil. If you are not able to get access to wood chip, you can use straws, dried leaves, grass clippings and whatever you are able to find and cover the soil.

The idea of not having to till the soil every year, buy supplies annually and water the plant regularly works for me. As such, I’ve decided that I am going to try out this method and see how things go. After all, I am not really getting much progress with my current method. Of course this is not going to work overnight. In fact, I cleared some beds and covered it with dried leaves which I have been collecting in my compost bin. It will take a few months before I am able to start planting in those beds. I also covered the base of my existing plants with covering. In the meantime, I am on a look out for mulch, wood chips and anything else that I can use as a covering.

It will be a few months before I see results so wish me luck.

 

 

 

 

Smart Gardening Workshop

If you are interested in composting, you can attend a Smart Gardening workshop. Here is a link setting out locations and times in Los Angeles County. From my experience, they give you free seeds in exchange for completing a survey form.

You can purchase worm bins and compost bins at discounted prices. They only accept cash and check. You can also buy worm tea for $2 a bottle and worms for $10 per bag. The worm tea is concentrated and needs to be diluted at the ratio of 20:1. As for the worms, I thought it was relatively cheap considering that worms usually go for $40 online. You can argue that one is getting more worms for a higher price but worms multiply if you take care of it. Even though the worm bins and compost bins are discounted, I still find it expensive since you can make your own for much cheaper thanks to YouTube.

If you are new to composting and you want some feedback about whether you are composting the right way, this would be a great avenue for you to speak with experts on the subject. I had asked them about my worms in my trash can turned compost bin and I was told that the worms would probably die because of the heat from the composting process.

When I went home, I emptied out my compost bin and luckily the worms were still alive. In fact, I found a pregnant worm and some eggs. That was a relief. I guess I have to stop loading my compost bin with more food waste before it gets too hot and make my own worm bin. In any event, I am happy to see that my food waste is slowly breaking down. The best part is that it doesn’t stink.