We just got our new gardens alive! Catalog and there is a new composting system available that I am very interested in trying out. It is a worm composting system that is supposed to be efficient, odorless, and fast. It certainly seems an excellent system and I have sort of seen the theory behind it in action on Dirty Jobs on the Discovery channel, when Mike Rowe visited a worm farm. Worm waste has been used for many years as a fertilizer and when their castings are mixed in with potting soil, they also help with drainage.
Essentially, the worm composter is chest of drawers, made from recycled plastic, and each drawer holds a layer of organic matter. To begin, you toss some red worms in the bottom drawer along with a layer of organic matter, which they eat and break down via the same bacteria that would typically break down a regular compost pile. When it is time to add more food scraps, paper, etc, you add it in the next drawer up. The worms will climb up in search of new food, leaving the bottom drawer full of their castings.
Each red worm makes castings equal to its own weight every day. Because of this, a style of composting that utilizes these worms would create a usable by-product much more quickly than standard composting and with less work, since there is no turning involved and the worms move on the next drawer by themselves, so there is no sorting. Of course, $140 (system + worms) is a bigger investment than just a pile or a tub in your back yard, but it’s also a much cheaper alternative to the tumbler style composter.