Vermicomposting toilets – what are they and how do they work?

If you’ve been using your composting toilet for a while now, or are new to the world of composting toilets you may have stumbled across the term vermicomposting toilet. We’re going to look at what these are, if they work and what’s involved with keeping one. 

What is a Vermicomposting toilet?

Put simply, a vermicomposting toilet is like a traditional composting toilet but with the addition of worms to help with the composting process. Worms have been used in the composting process for thousands of years and recently (around the 1990’s) many people have been experimenting with using worms in composting toilets. 

How does a Vermicomposting toilet work?

A Vermicomposting toilet works in the same way a traditional composting toilet works but there’s an additional element added to the compost pile – worms. The addition of worms to a composting toilet means there are several organisms and processes. Adding worms to the composting pile means that they, along with bacteria, fungi and protozoa, will work at breaking down the waste in your system to make the compost. 

Do Vermicomposting toilets require additional work?

Yes! Very much so. The addition of worms to your composting pile means there are many additional steps you will need to make to ensure your toilet is running properly. 

It’s worth noting that not all composting toilets can work with the addition of worms. If, for example, your composting toilet has a mixing mechanism, this will not end well for the worms. 

Typically worms really only work in split system composting toilets like the Clivus Multrum range of composting toilets. This means that worms can live in a separate container system and aren’t agitated, mixed or moved by mechanical means. 

Do I need to add additional food items into the composting toilet for the worms to live?

Typically you will need to add food scraps to the composting toilet to supplement the worms’ diet or they are likely to die. There is nothing wrong with adding foodstuffs into a composting toilet, however, we do find that once this is done it’s likely you will now be facing issues with vinegar flies (fruit flies) as they are attracted to these food items. Once fruit flies get into your composting toilet system, it’s a fair amount of work and a bit of a process to remove them. 

Do Vermicomposting toilets require special conditions to work?

Yes. Vermicomposting toilets can be very temperamental as it’s imperative you keep your compost pile at the right temperature in summer and winter. Too hot and your worms will die, likewise if it’s too cold. Worms also need a certain amount of liquid in the pile so if you’re going away for any length of time (over a week or so) you will need to make sure someone can add foodstuffs to your compost pile, otherwise, you may get back from holidays and find all the worms in your pile are dead. 

Are Vermicomposting toilets worth the effort it takes to maintain them?

Here at Clivus Multrum we’re of the opinion that worms are better kept in the garden, not in your composting toilet. Whilst it’s possible to keep worms in a composting toilet (particularly the Clivus Multrum range) we feel the amount of work it takes to ensure the temperature, feed items and other elements needed to maintain vermicomposting toilets really isn’t worth the effort when the composting process will work just fine without them.

If you would like further advice on using worms or vermicomposting toilets, please call us on 1300 138 182.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019 01:57

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