Saturday, February 25, 2012

More thoughts on large scale vermicomposting

A few weeks ago I had an e-mail conversation with a person from Mt. Abrams ski mountain. She was interested in using vermicomposting to help achieve conservation goals.

I shared the following information and considerations. I thought I would open this discussion to share with others and solicit additional information.

In general, vermicomposting could be used to save $$ on solid waste disposal and be good for the environment. However, there are some limitations and challenges that should be considered.

I have a related blog about that somewhat relates to these situations and presents some of my earlier thoughts (

I think your best bet is to partner with someone who is already making compost (either a farm or facility). Here is a list of compost facilities I found on the DEP website:

Second best option would be to set up your own on-site outdoor composting (knowing that without a lot of effort it will be mostly dormant during winter). The obvious drawbacks here are staff hours to maintain, the possible need for permits, and then the possibility of attracting pests (large and small).

The tricky part for vermicomposting on your scale will be sizing your herd that allows for reasonable processing of the compostable waste. I suspect your additions will be seasonal (obviously). This can be tricky for vermicomposting, because you're better to scale too big than too small to be able to process the maximum additions so you don't have problems (bad smells, etc). However, that can be expensive and difficult to maintain (food supply must be consistent for a stable population). Look at my situation, I import compostables to feed my herd to maintain a population that permits me to sell or donate (on average) about 1 pound of worms per week.

Perhaps that is another viable solution: can you get enough staff/coworkers to set up worm bins at home who may be willing to bring a bucket home for their worms? A decentralized system like this can work, but you have to have enough people to make it work. This may not be reasonable for you, but it is part of the discussion that should be mentioned. It can work and provide staff with a great source of vermicompost.

A final consideration for vermicomposting is managing the waste prior to addition. Vermicomposting is a bit more restrictive (in terms of what can be added) than outdoor hot compossting. Salt and oil in particular must be limited. This can present challenges (problems) during collection, and will require education of all involved.

In all honesty, I think your best solution is to find a local farm or compost facility to take your waste. Like solid waste disposal, there will be costs associated with this, but the costs should be less than landfilling (since the receiver is able to make & sell a product). I think we need more compost facilities in Maine to provide solutions to business and compost for Maine citizens. Until Maine businesses demonstrate a need for these as a service, the growth of these operations is slow. I am very please to learn that Mt Abram is moving in this direction.

I don't want to discourage you, but I want you to benefit from the many discussions I have had with schools and businesses looking to incorporate vermicomposting into their waste stream.



Saturday, February 18, 2012

Composting Surprises

There has been some recent press about composting, including an article on surprising items that can be composted:

This list (compiled by PlanetGreen) has good information on OUTDOOR composting. While you could try some of those items in your worm bin, I generally recommend that you stick to the basics shown in the figure on the second page of my welcome to vermicomposting handout:



Thursday, February 16, 2012

Local oatmeal

Our pre-Holiday CSA share box included a bag of best oatmeal I've eaten.

It was from Aurora Mills (Linnaeus ME).

I eat oatmeal almost every morning in the winter (I LOVE IT!). And when I remember, I use the presoak (overnight) method to make it more digestible and cook faster in the morning.

I find the Aurora Mills product to be superior to any other oatmeal (Irish, steel-cut, etc.). it just tastes great.

If you're intersted you can reach them at

Here's their label



Saturday, February 11, 2012

A great product that solves a problem

The Right Mat ( Especially,
One of the results of the new federal whale rule mandating the use of sinking groundlines is the new abundance of unusable floating groundline.  GOMLF has been buying back floating groundline from lobstermen since May of 2007 as part of the Bottom Line Project and during that timeframe, clever individuals and companies have found a unique way to re-use the float rope without any possibility of entangling a whale:  woven doormats.

In March 2009, GOMLF made over 150,000 pounds of the float rope available to doormat makers in the Waldoboro (Maine) area.  Since then, other enterprises throughout the state and region have also been cropping up, and float-rope doormats are beginning to appear on some of the finest porches in New England.  Our groundline buy-back program continues, and more than a million pounds of lobstermen’s rope may be used to make doormats!

Their doormats make a great gifts. Mail a check for $40 + $10 shipping ($17.50 shipping for two) and you can get one for yourself. No two mats are alike and each features the colorful rope used by Maine lobstermen – stripes or solids – often complete with barnacles, which aid in boot-scraping!  Mats are best for outdoor use and should not be placed on slick surfaces.

Here is a picture of ours.