More than just a pretty face, the Canadian city of Vancouver has a thriving population of worm compost enthusiasts. Whether you've lived in Vancouver your entire life or you've just become a recent resident of this charming coastal city, rest assured you have plenty of company in the worm composting arena. Although it has some special challenges, worm composting in Vancouver possesses distinctive benefits, including a vibrant support group of active vermicomposters.
Worm composting in Vancouver plays an important role in the city's overall goals for going green. According to the city's mayor, Gregor Robertson, Vancouver will be "the greenest city in the world by 2020." Attaining this goal means making composting a reality for Vancouver inhabitants, many of whom live in high-rise apartments or homes with small yards. When you live in a city like Vancouver, you can't just go outside and build a huge compost heap to dispose of organic waste. Worm composting allows for the conversion of organic food waste into nutrient-rich humus indoors, with nothing more than red worms and a plastic or wooden bin full of moist newspaper bedding.
Although they consume food scraps, you can't give your compost worms any old food and expect them to flourish. Provide easily digestible foods, such as fruit and vegetable waste, grains, tea leaves and coffee grounds. Loren Nancarrow, author of "The Worm Book, suggests that you give your worms a gritty material, such as finely crushed egg shells, to help them digest the food more easily. Avoid problematic foods such as meat, bones and fatty foods, which can create odor problems and attract rodents, not something you want to do, especially if you live in a small Vancouver high-rise apartment.
In order to compost successfully with worms in Vancouver, you'll need to do a bit of research before you acquire your red worms. Collect and weigh the food waste that your household produces in one week's time and use this number to choose the correct size bin. As a general rule, you'll need to provide approximately 1 square foot of surface area for each pound of weekly food waste. For example, use a 2-foot-by-3-foot container if you produce 5 to 6 pounds of weekly food waste.
Worm Composting in Action
If you're interested in seeing the worm composting process in action in Vancouver, you're in luck. According to Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture, you can visit multiple Compost Demonstration Gardens located throughout the greater Vancouver area. While you're checking out the composting set up, you can chat with experienced staff members about equipment, materials, and compost worm species, as well as ask any questions you may have about the composting process.
Although the average summer temperature in Vancouver is a sunny 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the city's winter temperatures average 36 degrees Fahrenheit. These temperature extremes can pose problems for compost worms, which process organic waste best between 55 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Nancarrow. You can solve all your temperature concerns by simply maintaining an indoor worm compost bin. However, if you plan to use an outdoor worm compost bin in Vancouver, make sure you have insulation materials, such as bales of hay or straw, available to surround your compost bin once the winter temperatures begin to dip below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the bedding moist during the summer to minimize dehydration, which can be deadly for worms.