What is Vermiculture? – Worms For Composting
Vermiculture is the scientific name for the management of worms. Growing earthworms is a wonderful way to add natural organic earthworm castings to your garden. These castings are chalked full of nutrients and are one of the absolute best fertilizers you can add to your flower or vegetable gardens.
The worms eat the refuse or waste that humans produce and in turn create fertilizer that enhances the growth and productivity of plants. These plants in turn provide food and the cycle starts all over again. Earthworm castings also produce an incredibly amount of phosphorous which is one of the three main nutrients needed by plants – nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium (NPK).
The earthworm is the garden’s hardest worker and will turn regular garden soil into super soil that can grow just about anything. They also regulate the amount of air and water that can get into the soil by creating a path as they eat their way around. They break down this organic matter and leave behind castings (or worm poop!). If you can add earthworms to your garden, by all means do it today! If you cannot, think about vermicomposting or producing the earthworm castings by having a warm farm.
Yes, I said it – a warm farm. Vermicomposting, or worm composting, allows you to compost food waste very quickly, while producing high quality compost soil and fertilizing liquid. My favorite part is that it’s self-contained and nearly odorless. Vermiculture is an easy way to compost and is great for those that can’t have outdoor compost pile. You can have worms inside in a standalone vermicluture bin or outside in containers, even an old bathtub. The worms that are used the most often are redworms (Eisenia fetida) and do best in temps that range between 50-70 degrees.
To start your warm bin, fill it with a base of shredded newspaper, straw, or dried grass which provides a source of fiber to the worms and keeps the bin well-ventilated. Toss on a handful of dirt then thoroughly moisten it down and allow the water to soak in for 24 hours before adding the worms.
Worms will reproduce and die based on how much food you give them. Feed them at least once a week in the beginning, but only a small amount because they will also be eating the bedding. As the worms reproduce and grow in numbers, feed them at four cups or a quart of food scraps for every square foot of surface area each week.
Worms love fruit and vegetable scraps, tea leaves and coffee grounds with the filter, egg shells, plus bread and other grains. If you chop up the waste or toss them into a food processor before you give them to the worms, they are able eat them quicker. Mix the scraps into the bedding when you feed them too – don’t just leave the scraps on the top. Keep the worm bin evenly moist like a damp sponge.
There are a few things that you don’t want to do to your worms. Don’t feed the little guys too much! If it starts to smell it is because they can’t eat the food fast enough which makes the bedding heat up and can kill off the worms. Remember not to give them too much citrus, no meats or fish, definitely nothing that is greasy, do dairy products, or dog or cat feces. Lastly, make sure they don’t have too much water! Their bedding should be damp but not soggy.
Where do you get a vermiculture bin? I purchased this bin a few years ago and it worked so well I highly recommend it. Come back next week to learn how to make your own worm bin for just a few dollars!
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