Attention: this may not look like a food related post at first, but I assure you it is! You see, as a home cook I like to work with fresh vegetables as much as possible. This usually results in having some leftover potato peels, or less attractive pieces of veggie, or inedible parts of fruit… you get the picture. At home with my parents, those organic leftovers go to the domestic animals (dog, sheep, chickens) or the compost heap. Most cities offer a program in the garbage schedule to pick up organic stuff. Unfortunately, Brussels doesn’t. And ever since we’ve moved here, it’s bothering me to throw away my organic waste with the other plastic and styrofoam stuff, since these bags usually end up in the incinerator. I started thinking of other ways to get rid of the organic stuff. We don’t have a real garden or yard, so making a compost heap isn’t really an option. Then, I read about an alternative for gardenless people like me: a worm box.
It sounds a bit icky at first, but it really isn’t. A worm box is a type of mini eco-system, designed to get rid of your organic waste and get organic worm fertilizer and fertile ground instead, all the while feeding our little worm friends. It’s the perfect solution for city people who want to get rid of their organic waste but don’t have a garden to do so. Here’s how it works:
You have a box that contains your worms, in their natural habitat, which is some decomposing and already decomposed organic soil. On top, you put your organic waste (such as vegetable and fruit peel – no bread or cooked meals, also no large amounts of citrus fruits). This will decompose and the worms will then turn it into organic soil. Your ‘worm bin’ has small holes in it and is on top of another bin with a slight space in between the two. This is because the worms produce a fluid (called ‘worm percolate’) which is extremely fertile for plants. So, the fluid will seep into the lower box through the holes, from there you can dilute it with water and it give it to plants. Once the organics have been turned into compost, you can add another box on top with holes in the bottom through which the worms can crawl. You add organics to the top box and once the worms are ‘done’, they’ll start moving up toward new food. This way you can use your other soil for plants, and restart the cycle.
That’s the theory. I’m not that far yet. After a failed trial to obtain worms in early February (it was too cold so they refused to be caught by me, even if for benevolent purposes), I finally got around to collecting my worms from my parents’ compost heap. We just overturned soil until we found a spot with a lot of worms and ecolife going on with millepedes, centipedes and other fun little creatures. I scooped a plastic bag of the soil and sought out some extra worms and subsoilers. At home, I filled the bottom of my box with the dry remains of some plants that didn’t survive the winter season. I then added the soil containing the worms. I then added some food leftovers like the peel of a pear, some old herbs, some potato peels and some cardboard stuff like egg cartons… Now I’m supposed to let the worms ‘acclimatize’ for a week or two. I’m really excited to see what happens!