At the moment I have a vermicomposting system set up with red wigglers in a 32 gallon garbage can. I have found composting to be very rewarding. When I am shopping and cooking I think "can I compost this" and that has improved my diet. I also create less trash. Between buying reusable or minimally packaged products, composting and recycling I hardly throw away a thing. Then I get use the compost in my garden... when I don't screw it up... =D
About my bin...
I drilled holes in the side and made a good base of torn cardboard then layered with shredded paper and kitchen/garden scraps. I still don't think it got enough drainage and airflow. I considered putting gravel under the cardboard and installing a tapper close to the bottom, but I decided I didn't usually have that much excess moisture.
I actually flooded one bin... really a drunken asshole sailor pissed and vomited in it, but anyway that's the great thing about sailors... they always ship out. I digress. Cleaning up the stagnant mess of waste and dead worms was stinky and depressing. I lost all of the compost I had ready for my garden. Only my flowers made it.
I'm going to be moving from Chicago to Austin over the winter so I am starting to break down my bin and considering new options for when I get settled. Today I went through the bin to see what I had. I had a lot of unprocessed material, a bazillion worms and some rather muddy compost. I took it all apart and rebuilt it. Along the way I pulled a decent glob of worms to find a new home. I also started another small bin with compost that was nearly ready for use. I will probably do this a few more times until I am ready to dump the remains into my outdoor system.
Now on to the fun part! Shopping for a new, more functional and possibly sophisticated system!
The main thing I have to consider is space. I will have a lot less. I'll also have less mouths to feed, less material and less plants. So what are my options?
Another bin... this time something shorter and wider that I can fit under the sink. It is inexpensive to start and does the job as long as I don't screw it up. However, harvesting is labor intensive and it can get stinky. This is a seriously no frills option.
The opposite end of the spectrum...THE
NatureMill: PRO XE Automatic Compost Bin!
I saw this at the Museum of Science and industry Smart Home: Green + Wired exhibit.
It is a cute story really... A man who worked there jokingly compared my Monkey to a red wiggler and showed him their vermicomposting system. Chad replied in his typical "you can't tell me what's what" tone "Oh my Mommy does composting. We have lots of worms." The man looked at me in full make-up, hair and wardrobe.. he was obviously skeptical. I nodded and after talking a bit other people joined in the conversation. They showed me two brochures. The first is a great resource for children. The Adventures of Herman at www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/worms/ teaches is all about worms but there are other parts of the site dedicated to rivers, tree, insects etc. Then they showed me this amazing composting technology in the Smart Home brochure. I can in no way afford this.
There are less expensive and worm free indoor systems like this...
http://www.compostbins.com/compost-bins/kitchen-composters/scdhappyfarmerkitchencomposterkittan.cfm which utilize "fermented organic matter" to break down material into compost tea. Um... okay, this is neither scientifically or technologically interesting to me, but I guess it does the job and is practical for apartment living... blah.
Here is the option that makes the most sense for me at the moment.
The Worm Factory® 360 Recycled Plastic Worm Composter
Given the amount of money I have already spent on supplies to re-purpose old ugly stuff... and that I will not be carting old ugly stuff across the country... it just makes sense to buy something designed for worm composting that is actually kinda cute. I like that the system is divided into trays. I'm not sure how much material the boy and I will produce so I can expand as needed. It will also be less labor intensive for me. Digging in a 32 gallon can just to separate material into trays... kills my back and keeps my lazy ass from harvesting when I should.
I am sure there are a lot of other systems out there and will continue to research them as my moving day approaches.
I hope you have been inspired by my efforts as a single working Mami optimistically planning a high efficiency-economical-nature friendly-Ueber healthy-micro home. Advice, opinions, corrections, and compliments are welcome.