Supplementary Kit for the Larch Wood Box for Organic Waste Digesting Worms
Spare parts set.
As soon as the cover mat made of hemp fiber shows the first signs of rotting and the supplied lime rock flour for supplying the worms with mineral nutrients has been used up, we will deliver the corresponding 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 is a good thing. The learning curve that the average German has gone through in the last few years will become apparent at the latest when he or she has to explain in detail to a foreign, possibly even non-European guest the sometimes quite complicated subtleties between glass, organic waste, yellow sacks 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.
In the case of organic waste, 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 materials, not costly waste - which they only become when they leave the apartment, house or property via an expensive recycling system.
Thinking smaller. The worm bin.
To prevent this, you have to leave the dimensions of millions and thousands, tons and kilograms. Eisenia foetida points the way to the goal. 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. After all, Witzeneder designed his worm bin for the home or balcony - which is precisely where it can recycle biowaste, in a sense at the source of the problem.
How it works.
The worm bin consists of a cuboid of 44 x 48 x 34 cm edge length made of oiled larch and has holes around the upper edge, which ensure 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 about the amount that accumulates in a household of 2-3 people.
Harvest. Potting soil and "worm tea."
If the box works 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 from the bioresidues, after passing through the existing compost and absorbing valuable minerals in the process, collects in a removable tray at the very bottom of the worm bin - an excellent liquid fertilizer for indoor and balcony plants, for example.
Once again, the big picture.
What is to be read at this point sketchily to the start and enterprise of the worm box, explain the Macher of the "worm box" in an enclosed manual and also in the Internet under 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 in English the figures for Germany given at the beginning, using the city of Vienna as an example, and shows the great potential that on-site processing of food waste - whether as avoidance or as reduction of biowaste - can have, especially in metropolitan regions. Thanks to Eisenia foetida.
Article Number 17104
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