Monday 30 May 2011

A hospitable compost bin

I spent last Saturday helping to staff a Water Aid exhibition in York Minster as part of their campaign to highlight the improtance of conserving the environment. Many of those who showed interest were fellow exhiitors already conversant with and converted to our cause, but I like to think we alerted some of the general public to the importance of enabling all the world's people to gain access to fresh water and effective sanitation, and promoting good hygiene practices.

My wanderings among the other exhibitions gave me the answer to a problem which has puzzled me for some time: namely, why are the worms so anxious to get out of my compost bins? Every time I take a lid off I find congregations (or whatever is the appropriate collective noun) of worms grouped about the lip apparently anxious to get out into the fresh air and sunlight, whereas I would have thought they'd be as "happy as pigs in muck" churning up my compost.

The answer, thanks to the aptly named "York Rotters," is that my compost is too wet. This is because I put insufficient "brown" materials into the bins to balance the "green" materials. The best brown material is cardboard, torn into small pieces, but discarded copy paper (scrunched up to contain air) envelopes and other non-recyclable papers can aso be used. The Rotters also claim that rubber gloves , burst balloons, sellotape and corks are also compostable brown materials, but this sounds to me to be rather unlikely. The only one from this list that I've ever tried to compost was corks, and these never seem to have degraded at all, even after several years.

Ideally compost bins should be placed on soil rather than paving so that the excess moisture can drain away. Unfortunatley mine are on slabs of stone and I lack the dedication to change that, but shall intoduce as much scrunched up paper and torn up cardobaoard as I can to create a happier habitat for my worms.

Unfortunately the spellchecker is not working on this search engine and I've forgotten how I reactivated it on the other, so please excuse any excess of typos and spelling errors.

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