Worms are Caffeine Junkies: Using Coffee Grounds in Worm Farms
For those of us who are trying to do what we can to live in as sustainable a manner as possible, limiting the amount of waste we generate is one of the biggest challenges. This is especially true as, so often we are able to generate huge amounts of waste without even thinking about it. To try and combat this tendency, I took one small step that ended up being incredibly effective. I wrote ‘landfill’ on my bin.
Obviously, this doesn’t sound like a particularly drastic measure, but it really brought it home to me just what it meant to throw things away that could be put to better use. I was already recycling as much as I could, but I soon became keen to find ways I could cut down on waste that I couldn’t put in the recycling, left over scraps of food being one of them. Every time my plate scrapings went into the bin and felt a little guilty and a little annoyed. So I decided to do something about it.
Those of us with a garden, can of course put a lot of our food waste to use in a compost heap, but, living in an inner city apartment I need a tidier, less smelly solution that would use less space. After a little research, I settled on a mini wormery as the ideal solution. (It is essentially like a small plastic bin, with a tap at the bottom to allow you to drain the nutrient rich liquid which collects in the bottom.)
After a weeks, I was putting almost no food in the bin and found my kitchen was actually smelling better as a result. I was also having to put less bin bags out for collection, where they might be got at by pesky urban foxes (and it also saved me some leg work!).
I spent a while experimenting to see what sorts of material the worms were reacting to best, when one day, after having a few friends round for breakfast in my flat, I was left with four or five coffee filters full of used grounds, all of which I tipped into my worm farm. The worms seemed to love it! In fact they loved it so much that in time I found that, if I applied coffee grounds to the top of the pile, they’d actually eat through the rest of the refuse quicker just to get to it, which was a very useful trick.
Since this revelation the farm has been going strong and I’ve been able to supply my friends and family, who are all a bit more green fingered than me, with some quality fertilizer Furthermore, a friend of mine works in coffee shop near my home called Monmouth Coffee, and he keeps plenty of used grounds by for me to come and collect, meaning I have access to as much used grounds as I can use.
I’d encourage everyone, with and interest in either gardening or reducing their landfill waste to both buy a worm farm and be sure to tap the potential of coffee grounds to make it a success!
Photo Source: Skugg
Steve Waller writes on a number of environmental issues on his blog GreenSteve from facts about food miles to the ills of monocropping.