Most frequently asked questions
Here are the most frequently asked questions we've received at Subpod.
You’re right to ask the question. The amount of plastic we use in our society is a huge concern, but this is most true of single use plastics.
The BPA-free, food-grade polypropylene we’ve used in Subpod will last at least 10 years (probably much longer) without degrading or leaching, and contains no endocrine disrupting chemicals.
Over a decade of processing 15 kilograms of food waste weekly, each Subpod will divert more than 7,500 tonnes (8,300 tons) of food waste from landfill, and more than 20 tonnes of Co2 equivalent from the atmosphere.
Subpod contributes to a sustainable closed-loop food system, which should be the goal for every resource we use. This, and the fact the plastic used in Subpod is 100 percent recyclable by most curbside pick-up services (Category 5 PP), we believe, justifies its use. The polypropylene can withstand temperatures from below freezing to above boiling point and withstand a weight of 200 kilograms (440 pounds). Right now we’re using 100 percent virgin plastics but will be testing blends of up to 50 percent recycled material for strength and longevity.
The emphasis on environmentally friendlier plastics is on biodegradability, which of course isn’t suitable for a subterranean composting solution.
But we take our environmental impact very seriously and are always on the lookout for the best possible materials to use, so watch this space!
Most food waste can be composted in Subpod without worry. Fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells (crush them first), coffee grounds, used tea leaves, spoiled plant-based milks, grains, pastas, breads, snack foods, nuts (and their shells), seeds, pits, husks and so on. Small amounts of meats, seafood and dairy foods, citrus, and onion and garlic may also be added, along with pretty much anything going funky in the fridge. Subpod can also process spicy herbs and peppers, dairy foods and oils, but it’s best to introduce these types of substances slowly, in small pieces, in small amounts at first, and only after your worms are fully established (around three months).
PAPER & CARD
Most scrap paper and cardboard can be added to Subpod, as long as it’s not laminated or super glossy. Again, the smaller the pieces, the better. Junk mail, office paper, bills, envelopes (no plastic windows), post-it notes. Paper plates, tissues, egg cartons, paper cupcake liners, baking paper, even card and paper packaging is fine, too.
Used cotton swabs and balls, sanitary napkins and tampons, toilet paper cores, are all fine. Even old clothing, face washers, napkins, tablecloths and very old towels can be used as long as they are made from natural fibres like cotton, tencel, linen, hemp or wool (no polyester, nylon, acrylic or blends) – just shred them into small pieces first. Cotton wool balls and pads, sanitary napkins and tampons, even natural latex condoms and gloves can go into Subpod. Washer and dryer lint are OK too, as long as, again, it comes only from clothing made from natural fibres.
WOOD AND BAMBOO
Sawdust (no paint) is great. Toothpicks, disposable wood, bamboo and bioplastic cutlery and crockery – they’re going in too, along with dead matches, bamboo skewers, garden prunings (cut 'em up small), and charcoal from the fireplace, so long as you wash off the ash which is too alkaline for Subpod.
HUMAN AND ANIMAL WASTE
Human hair and nail trimmings, used facial tissue, used cotton bandages and sanitary items can all be composted in Subpod, so long as they are made from natural fibres. Pet hair of all kinds is fine, along with soiled newspaper and hay cage liners and faeces from vegetarian pets and livestock – eg rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, cows and horses. Dog and cat faeces are NOT suitable for Subpod if you’re eating the plants growing around it. But fine if you want to have a separate one for this purpose.
Subpod is the first composting solution which lets worms do their work directly in the soil. It looks great and is the only composting system which allows you to make a stand against food waste, by taking a seat among your homegrown veg!
Below ground, Subpod’s perforated sides allow the worms to move freely in and out, aerating and conditioning the surrounding soil and delivering nutrients directly to the roots of nearby plants, helping them thrive. There are also smaller holes in the walls above ground. This is the airflow panel. This helps maintain an aerobic (oxygen-rich) environment for the compost, which is why Subpod isn’t stinky!
The garden seat factor and mobility of both air and worms is at the heart of what makes Subpod special.
The ability to connect multiple Subpods together is also unique, making Subpod the only modular composting solution which can be scaled easily to suit large gardens, organisations, even whole neighbourhoods.
Don’t freak out! Getting started is really easy. Follow these steps:
1. Assemble and earth your Subpod, including the divider.
2. Add eight good handfuls of ‘bedding’. This can be: Coir/coconut peat or Shredded newspaper/cardboard (you can use the box Subpod comes in)
3. Add at least 1,000 (2,000 is better!) composting worms.
4. Moisten the blankets that come in your Subpod kit (moisten not wet – squeeze out any excess).
5. Place the blankets over the worms.
6. Do not open the lid for one week until it’s time for the first feed.
For more detail on getting started, try our course. https://growhub.subpod.com/courses/1317453/content
Yep, you sure can.
And the compost is fantastic to add to your indoor potting mix too. There are many variables, but in good conditions, the worms you start with will multiply several times in the first three months and we advise waiting that long before harvesting your compost.
If using the compost elsewhere is a priority, always use the Subpod Divider. Stop feeding one side and the worms will finish up there and migrate to the feeding side, so there’s no worry about harming your worms when you harvest.
After a week or two, you’ll see that the worms have processed the compost on the side you’re not feeding, and it will be ready to use.
Well, yes. But also, no.
You don’t have to, but the smaller you make the pieces, the more quickly the microbes and worms will process the materials, and the more efficient and effective your Subpod will be. The denser the materials you’re putting in, the greater the efficiency multiplier when you break it up first. Think of it as a sliding scale from chunky and clunky to small and speedy. Where you want to be on that scale is entirely up to you!
We don’t yet have direct experience with fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) specifically, but have found that ants are more likely to move on your Subpod if waste is left to dry out, so using the aerator every time you add feed to Subpod is crucial.
Chop up whatever you’re putting into your Subpod, especially when you’re getting started, as it makes it easier to stir your compostables through the material. That makes for quicker work for the worms and a more even distribution of moisture. Once the material is stirred in, cover it with the blanket. Make sure this, too, is nice and moist (but not wet, wring out any excess water).
But, if you have fire ants nesting near your Subpod, you need to take them out. At Subpod, we recognise that all living things have their role to play, and we avoid killing creatures wherever we can. However, fire ants are an introduced pest, dangerous to humans and animals alike, and pose a threat to indigenous ant species, which are an important part of the ecosystem. To avoid using pesticide, try borax mixed with sugar. There is plenty of how-to content online. Take care to avoid damaging populations of indigenous species. Apart from their importance in nature’s balance, destroying indigenous populations simply leaves more room for fire ants.
Every Subpod kit comes complete with two worm blankets – one for each side of the divider. For those playing at home, each is 36cm by 42cm (14” by 6.5”).
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