Sunday, February 13, 2011

Worm Boxes Help Make Gardening Truly Sustainable

There is a word I’ve been tossing around that has become very popular in the past few years; that word is sustainable. So what does it mean to be sustainable? The definition in the Webster’s Dictionary is to endure, or to maintain or prolong. Ecosystems in nature do this all of the time unless their balance is disrupted. In sustainable living, the idea is to return what has been taken in perfect balance. When both sides of the equation are zero, we are living sustainably. This is of course very difficult to do but the idea is to get as near zero as possible. By definition though, we are living sustainably even if we are not at zero because we are prolonging the depletion of resources.

This year I made a resolution to live more sustainably. I’ve been blogging about it for about nine months now but when I really take a look at myself I haven’t been living it to the best of my ability.. I have to face the facts; I am spoiled when it comes to convenience, and as a result I throw a ton of stuff away! What I realize today is that all of this waste costs money both directly and indirectly.

One of the biggest areas where I am guilty of waste is food. I have to admit that when I go to the Farmers Market or the Supermarket I buy more than I can eat, especially produce. Then when it spoils, I throw it in the garbage and ultimately it languishes in the local landfill for years and years because it is buried and cannot get enough oxygen to decompose. The cost of this directly is the money I could have saved out-of-pocket by buying less and eating everything I purchase. The indirect cost is the amount of energy and money needed to plant, cultivate, harvest, process, ship, and distribute the food to me. When I start to think of cost in those terms the numbers really add up. This not only taxes me, but all of society. When we start to add millions of people like me together the numbers become astronomical. The prices at the gas pump are a pretty good indication of this cost; more demand, higher prices.

I was standing in my kitchen one day when I heard water dripping under my sink, not a good thing. What had happened is my garbage disposal had corroded and water was leaking out the bottom. My first though was that I would have to replace it. Then I had an epiphany, what if I could turn all of my vegetable and food waste into soil for my container garden. Now that would be sustainable! The first thing I did was to get a five gallon bucket and turn it into a compost bin. Eventually bacteria will break down the vegetable matter into a mulch which I an mix with my potting soil as an organic base.

Composting is One Way To
Garden Sustainably

When I ran this by my friend and associate, Don Jacques, he suggested I also build a worm box. The worms will then breakdown the vegetable matter into rich soil which can be used to grow organic vegetables without chemicals. Another benefit of using a worm box is that the worm will also break down plant matter into a liquid fertilizer which can be drained out of a spigot on the bottom of the box. To me this offers a perfect solution to my sustainability problem and also provides a way for me to return the waste from my container garden back into the garden and thereby balancing my sustainability equation to zero.

Worm Factory DS4GT 4-Tray Worm Composter - Green

I though at first about building one but it can be time consuming and really is not any less expensive once I factor my time in. I decided to buy one through instead. Amazon has several models available and they are reasonably priced. There are some nice wooden ones from Wooden Worm Farms but I decided on a 3 tray worm composter from Worm Factory. I liked this one first of all for price and second of all it has a spigot on the bottom to drain the liquid.

So there you have it and I feel better now knowing that I have made a decision that allows me to be a truly sustainable organic gardener. Until the next time, Happy Gardening!

Wooden Worm Bin 3 Trays

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