Because we care, we are aware

We care about our guests and their wellbeing and we strive to maintain a high standard, provide wholesome food and make their stay as comfortable, memorable and enjoyable as possible. But no matter how one looks at it, where there are a turnover of people, is has in some or other way, an impact on the environment. More people necessarily results into more refuse. We also care about our environment.

What to do with all the leftovers, papers, peels, teabags and what not? Of course, re-cycling. We all by now practice the disciplines of, cans apart, plastic separate, as for glass and food. It involves an effort to keep these structures in place and another problem is that in smaller towns, the pickups aren’t that regular.

A solution would be to, for starters, recycle as many materials on the premises. Probably the first thing to do is to start with a compost heap – it’s very easy and low maintenance.

Compost is organic matter that has been decomposed and recycled as a fertilizer and soil amendment, and the key ingredients in organic farming. Obviously, only materials that can decompose are to be used. At its most essential, the process of composting requires simply piling up waste outdoors and waiting a year or more. The decomposition process is aided by shredding the plant matter, adding water and ensuring proper aeration by regularly turning the mixture. Worms and fungi further break up the material.

And then here it becomes specialized; worm farming. Vermiculture is just a nice word for worm farming with the sole purpose of making compost. Now it is not just any worm, most commonly used are earthworms and in particular Red Wiglers. Red wigglers are recommended by most vermiculture experts as they have some of the best appetites and breed very quickly. In appearance they differ from the normal earth worm by remaining small.

A worm farm has a number of advantages; apart from the pleasure of harvesting the castings and the worm tea, kitchen waste can be reduced by at least 25% and utilized in a way to stimulate organic farming. And here the opportunities are many – guest houses and hotels can grow their own vegetable gardens, regardless of their size. This is a rewarding way of recycling and putting back in Mother Earth what we take from here – in a small way.

Vermicast, also known as worm castings, worm humus or worm manure, is the end-product of the breakdown of organic matter by species of earthworm. This type of composting is sometimes suggested as a feasible indoor composting method – some hotels even do it in their basements.

Vermicompost tea has been shown to cause a 173.5% increase in plant growth by mass over plants grown without castings. These results were seen with only 10% addition of castings to produce these results.

Apart from the fact that the worms don’t do well in a wet, soggy crate, it is almost impossible to try and sieve a wet slush of vermicompost. It is there for important to control the moist level – never add liquids. If you do find that it starts getting soggy in the crate, add shreds of newspaper and green cuttings. Bear in mind that fruit and the peels retain a lot of moisture so as a precaution, if you happen to have a lot of fruit or vegetable to add, also add paper and green cuttings.

It is our aim at The Crown Guesthouse to be “green”. Not only are we sensitive towards our surrounding environment, but we also consider the well being of our guests, serving only natural products, many from our garden, all grown organically.

There is certain waste that is not good for the worms – and for that purpose we also maintain a regular compost heap – what the worms cannot digest, we submit to the process of decomposing and ultimately ending up as a form of compost to be used again.

And that goes back into our garden and pots.

Waste that can be fed to the worms:

  • Egg shells
  • Vegetable and Fruit peels
  • Shreds of newspaper
  • Sachets for sugar (paper only)
  • Green cuttings
  • Teabags and or tealeaves

Not to be fed to the worms:

  • Onion peels
  • Citrus
  • Coffee
  • Potato
  • Meat
  • Dairy
  • Fat or Oil
  • Grass cuttings – it radiates heat

Precautions:

  • Contents in container should be damp but not soggy
  • Should be kept in a dark or shady place
  • Keep on feeding the worms
  • Don’t forget to add green cuttings
  • Only when the contents gets soggy, may you add a thin layer of soil

How to start:

  • Two plastic crates that can be stacked on top of each other and be closed properly with a lid
  • Drill holes in the bottom of the first crate – about 2 cm in diameter
  • Cut out a rectangle in the lid of the second crate – not too big that the other crate cannot be stacked upon the bottom one.
  • The crate with the solid base and lid with a cut out triangle will be the bottom crate
  • The second crate gets piled upon it.
  • Layer the base of the top crate with shreds of damp, not wet, newspaper
  • Add the worms
  • Start layering with a thin layer of good soil – 1 cm deep, green stuff and then start adding the kitchen waste.
  • The worms eat their way up, the urine goes down through the holes and into the bottom crate – this will then later be used for fertilizing pots and flower beds – it is quite valuable.
  • The more worms you have, the faster the process. These worms breed fast and multiply rapidly. Soon you will have enough worms to start a second crate.
  • Worms can be ordered on the internet – there are many sites – just search for worm farming or earth worms.

There are so many waste products from the kitchen that can be used to feed the worms; egg shells, sugar sachets (paper only), stale bread, fruit peels, teabags. However, no dairy products, coffee, citrus, meat or potato peels should be added. Newspaper is a good additive – also helps preventing the farm to become wet and soggy.

Green cuttings are essential to worm farming. Do not add any soil or water. There are enough moisture in the raw products like fruit and of course teabags, etc.

The end product, the worm castings has a beautiful texture and if may happened that not everything has been 100% digested, as this picture suggests; egg shell are still to be seen. Although the roughage is good, if you rather prefer a finer compost, you have to sieve it again through a finer sieve.

The sieving involves more than one session, starting with a sieve of which the opening are bigger, to separate the real rough stuff from the actual vermicompost mix, however, you will find that the latter still has many worms in it.

A second sieve, much finer, is used to try and retain as many of the worms as possible because they have to go back into the crates and start eating and digesting. And is might even be necessary to sieve it for a third time, trying to retrieve as many worms as possible.

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