Wormeries to turn high rises' kitchen refuse into compost
RESIDENTS of Muirhouse could soon be inviting hordes of lodgers into their high rise homes – up to 8000 live worms apiece.
Balconies on the area's tower blocks will be teeming with life this spring as residents are offered free wormeries to encourage them to compost their kitchen waste and reduce landfill.
Jimmy Butler, community development worker with the North Edinburgh Trust, explained: "There is a problem with high rise flats because in terms of the rubbish and household waste, they have no options. They can't dispose of kitchen waste because nobody collects it and they don't have gardens. Everything goes through a central chute into a wheelie bin. We've worked out that there are 240 south-facing balconies and each one could have a wormery. The compost made by wormeries is very high quality and it was suggested that people could then use that compost to grow flowers or vegetables on their balconies."
The scheme is the brainchild of Fidra Court resident, Ulla Schott, 34, who came up with the idea after seeing a friend's wormery in action.
The journalism student and three other residents are now trialling a range of wormeries to see which are the most effective. In March a series of launch workshops will be held to teach would-be wormers how the devices work. The Muirhouse Salvesen Community Council has secured a 2000 grant from the city council's Waste Action scheme to buy 26 of the worm homes and if these prove popular it hopes to find funding for more.
Ms Schott said her neighbours were keen to take part in the project: "The response has been very good and it's actually getting better over the months. Some people said they couldn't do it because they have long absences from home but the worms can live up to a month on their own.
"You don't just put in fruit peelings, you can also put kitchen waste like food leftovers as long as there's no meat – dairy, cheese, pasta, rice are all OK."
Users put their kitchen waste on top of the wormery and leave the worms to do the rest.
The devices contain thousands of worms specially selected from species like the red tiger worm, which likes to eat rotting food on the surface, rather than earthworms, which burrow underground.
After an initial settling-in period, the average wormery will have a population of 8000 and can process about 500g of waste every day.
Ideally, they are placed on balconies, although in cold weather must be brought inside.
Ms Schott said they give off no smell as long as the lid is on.
However, she added, they're not suitable for the squeamish: "The worms are living creatures, so they won't suit every household. I kind of view them a little bit as pets, but very low-maintenance pets with low responsibility. It's often a spare-time activity for gardeners because they're used to handling worms and earth and it's great for kids who like to get muddy. People have to have a bit of tolerance to messy things."
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Tuesday 18 June 2013
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