Its been a slow start to spring and gardening here in Vancouver this year. So here are a few interesting (but pretty pointless) facts about composting. Enjoy 🙂
1. Birds use compost to incubate their eggs
The Australian Brush-turkey builds piles of decomposing vegetation. The heat from these ‘compost piles’ is used to incubate their eggs so that they won’t have to sit on them! The compost pile maintains the eggs at about 33°C (92°F), 15°C warmer than the surrounding air temperature meaning that many more eggs can be incubated.
The largest nests are on Kangaroo Island in South Australia, where the average mound measures about 12.7 cubic meters and weighs about 6,800 kg.
2. Putting pests to work… Blatticomposting
When most people think about composting, they often think about a black dalek style compost bins, or a trio of large wooden containers down at the end of the garden. But composting is much more than that. There are all kinds of methods available to convert organic waste into soil for your garden.
Blatticomposting is using cockroaches to eat kitchen leftovers. Yes, you read that right… cockroaches!
Cockroaches are excellent composters; they are not fussy and will eat almost anything. Plus, they are pretty hard to kill and reproduce like crazy. And they do all this whilst creating very little smell. Fantastic…. assuming you (your family and your neighbors) can accept the large bin of cockroaches in your back yard….
3. White glue, cotton balls and masking tape are compostable
As a Mom of three young children, our house receives a constant stream of artwork. We all know that most of this is destined for the garbage (too much paint, glue, glitter etc means that a lot of children’s artwork can’t go in the recycling, without careful disassembly. But did you know that white glue, paper materials, 100% cotton balls and paper masking tape are all perfectly compostable?
4. Exploding compost piles
TNT, and its derivatives (RDX, and HMX) are complex organic compounds made up of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and hydrogen. These compounds are found in contaminated lagoons around several US Army depots where TNT was manufactured.
The US Army is using bioremediation to clean up several of these contaminated lagoons; including Louisiana, Wisconsin, and Oregon. Bioremediation is simply the use of natural biological and chemical processes to break down the contaminants. The addition of compost ingredients (straw, food waste etc) means that the explosive chemicals are broken down (composted) into harmless chemical forms. Composting provides a much cheaper alternative to the alternative of incinerating the contaminated soils. It is estimated that the use of composting will save $2.6 million at the Oregon site, alone!
5. Worms, worms, worms….
And to finish, a few interesting (and fairly pointless facts about earthworms). You will need around 20,000 worms to compost waste from the average family of four.
Worms have five hearts, no teeth and no eyes. And, if you cut a worm in two it will most likely die.