Saturday, February 2, 2008

That Bin is a Hot Mess

Yeah, well, here's where I get finished compost, in the middle of winter, in Detroit. From my own freaking ComposTumbler. From my own freaking porch. One problemo. It's frozen solid. So now I'm scraping off layers of permafrost with the fork. At least I won't have to add moisture because of all the ice.

I couldn't take it anymore. I had to empty the bin. The thought of cooking all those dears, it wasn't right. And it would stink to kingdom come.

The Wigwam bin has a really interesting design. It's a big sheet of thick-ish plastic, wrapped around an elevated metal grid, with a crankshaft in the middle of it all. In theory, if you start it right and feed it right, the worms stay on the top, and the castings fall to the bottom. The crankshaft works back and forth to aid in loosening the castings. They fall into a tray that the whole contraption sits on, and Bob's your uncle.

But. There's another layer of plastic, bolted inside the outer layer, that sandwiches in a layer of insulation. The worms, in their panic to not be cooked, fled in between these layers. By the hundreds. Some even found the holes in the insulation (it's a layer of silver-foiled plastic bubblewrap) and they squeaked their dearselves neatly into it. I think those intrepid little dudes are toast.

So, for the last few hours, I've been scooping out the bin, handful by handful, layer by layer. Sniffing handfuls as I go, searching for that nasty stink. Worms in one bin, stink/ heat in another. The heat was from uneaten timothy hay via the house rabbits, Max and Cecilia. In the small Can-o-Worms bin, some uneaten hay was never a problem. If it heated up at all, the heat was negligible. But in the big bin, that hay turned the whole operation into a hot compost pile. Remember scale of pile? Yeah, I've read Rodale, cover to cover and back and forth until I fall asleep with it in my pathetic little hands...

I suck.

Oh yeah, and that vile stink? Ok, so I had this old boxful of business cards from a job I left a while back. I soaked them first, and they got soft like any paper. But some sort of bad magic happened in the bin, and I have to say that those cards are about the most vile stink I ever did smell. New rule- don't compost business cards.


Yellow said...

Help, I'm hooked on reading a blog by this funky-looking woman about a smelly worm compost bin.
You have an amazing 'voice' by the way. Are you a writer by profession?

ilex said...

Wow, thanks very much, Yellow! Nope, not a writer at all, just an urban dirt farmer. In my day job, I design fabric for car seats. No, really.

I must say, you have remarkable hair for an accountant. Nice artwork, too. I'll be sure to come by your blog.

Yellow said...

An accountant! Where on earth did you get that idea from? I work in a Call Centre for a UK Energy Supply company (I get to talk to people all day, how cool is that)

Yellow said...

Ah, I see. I've just amended my profile. Accountancy. Don't make me laugh. I only have 10 fingers and there's no way I'm taking my socks off in this weather.
By the way, what's a Condo?

ilex said...

Accountant. Yeah, never Assume. I saw the industry and made my usual giant leap of idiocy. First one of the day! You win a prize, my dear. I'll think of one shortly.

Socks. Heh!

A condo (short for condominium, a ridiculous, vaguely Greek-sounding word) is an owned, rather than rented, apartment. You get all the usual headaches of apartment living, and none of the benefits, i.e., if it breaks, YOU get to fix it.