Retrofit kit worm box
Spare parts kit.
As soon as the cover mat made of hemp fiber shows the first signs of rotting and the supplied lime rock meal for supplying the worms with mineral nutrients is used up, we will supply the appropriate replenishment. This composition is sufficient for about one year of worm bin operation.
Numbers, please! The big picture
We are a country of waste separators, and that's a good thing. The learning curve that the average German has gone through in recent years is something he will notice at the latest when he finds himself in the position of having to explain in detail to a foreign, possibly even non-European, guest the sometimes rather complicated intricacies between glass, organic, yellow bag and residual waste. And yet a large proportion of people who diligently collect and sort their waste are probably surprised at how large the proportion of organic waste is in the so-called "municipal waste volume": according to the German Federal Office for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Environmental Safety, it amounts to 30-40%. Since January 1, 2015, the Closed Substance Cycle Waste Management Act in Germany now requires the separate collection of organic waste. The cities and municipalities already reacted beforehand by setting up and operating appropriate facilities, and thus 13.5 million tons of biodegradable waste were already composted or processed into biogas in the previous year. 4.6 million metric tons of this came from organic waste garbage cans in which household kitchen waste was collected - 57 kg per person. As sensible as it is, this costs money and is also reflected in rising collection fees in many places. Because in order to be able to manage all this, there were already 236 biowaste composting plants, 648 green waste composting plants and 1386 anaerobic digestion plants available nationwide in 2014. Not to mention the fleet of trucks, not even mentioned by the federal authorities, that cost-intensively collects the biowaste from private households and transports it there. Such a closed-loop system is of course welcome, but it only goes as a first step. The next step must be waste avoidance, as is demanded and strived for in particular in the areas of residual waste, plastic waste and packaging waste.
With biowaste, the situation is somewhat different. It should be prevented solely in the sense that fresh food should actually be consumed and not thrown away unused. After all, it is fresh food that prevents plastic and packaging waste, not to mention its benefits for a healthy diet. And their leftovers are valuable raw material, not costly garbage - to which they become only when they leave the apartment, house or property via an expensive paid circulation system.
Think smaller. The worm box
To prevent this, you have to leave the dimensions of millions and thousands, tons and kilograms. The way to the goal is shown by Eisenia foetida. Eisenia foetida (vulgo: the compost worm) is only a few centimeters long, weighs about 0.4 g and is a hungry fellow. David Witzeneder, who trained as an agronomist at the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences in Vienna, recommends it as a pet, and he has good reasons for doing so. Together with his brother, he has developed and optimized the "worm box" in recent years. The Wurmkiste is, in a sense, a small company in the biowaste-processing industry made up of nothing but "team players" and "high-performers" that turns biowaste into high-quality plant compost in a surprisingly short time. And what's more: to stay with the metaphor, it can be placed in the middle of a residential area, because a well-tuned worm bin smells a little like forest soil or potting soil in the immediate vicinity at best - the worm is faster than the decomposition processes that could lead to rot and odor. Witzeneder has finally designed his worm bin for the apartment or balcony - exactly here it can, so to speak at the source of the problem, bio-waste.
How it works
The worm bin consists of a cuboid of 44 × 48 × 34 cm edge length made of oiled larch and has holes around the upper edge, which provide sufficient air circulation (and to answer the question expected at this point with: No, Eisenia foetida does not take these as a loophole as long as it finds usable food - an exit is denied to it anyway, as the holes are sealed from the inside with an air-permeable fleece). An initial stock of about 700 worms is settled in this box, corresponding to about 200 g live mass. The worms, fed with chopped organic waste, do their work under a hemp mat that keeps the moisture in the box. Each one of them digests about half of its own weight every day, i.e. about 100 g of biowaste at the beginning. However, in an optimal environment the population doubles every 90 days, so that after 3 months 200 and after half a year 400 g of biowaste are digested - from now on the population remains stable at a level of about 2000 worms. Now it works best if they are "fed" daily with a fresh cover layer of 2-4 cm height (although they may well go on a diet for a few days of absence). This is roughly equivalent to the amount produced by a household of 2-3 people.
The harvest. Potting soil and "worm tea"
When the box is working under "full load", about 24 kg of high-quality worm humus can be harvested twice a year each time, and since the compost worm understandably stays where fresh food can still be found, this can be done without seriously affecting the existing worm population. But right from the start and permanently at shorter intervals, the worm bin provides "worm tea". The moisture of the bioresidues, after passing through the already existing compost, absorbing valuable minerals, collects in a removable tray at the very bottom of the worm box - an excellent liquid fertilizer for indoor and balcony plants, for example.
Once again: the big picture
What is sketchy at this point to read about the start and operation of the worm box, explain the makers of the "worm box" in an enclosed manual and also on the Internet at www.wurmkiste.at in all details and with numerous pieces of advice. There you will also find the recording of a talk given by David Witzeneder at the international TED conference on the worm box and the perspective of biorest conversion. He explains thereby in English the figures played through at the beginning for Germany at the example of the city of Vienna and shows thereby the large potential, which can have an on-site processing of food waste - whether as avoidance, whether as reduction of bio waste - straight in large-city regions. Thanks to Eisenia foetida.
Article Number 17104
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