Worm composting is a simple and efficient way to recycle food wastes into high quality compost also known as worm castings or vermicompost by using various species of worms such as white worms, red wigglers and other types of earthworms. During the process of vermicomposting, worms eat nutrient rich vegetable and fruit scraps and turn them into nutrient rich compost as the food scraps pass through their bodies. Worms can live for about one year in the worm bin. If a worm dies in your bin, you probably will not notice it. Since the worm’s body is about 90% water, it will shrivel up and become part of the compost rather quickly. New worms are born and others die all the time.
Vermicompost contains water soluble nutrients in a form that is relatively easy for plants to absorb, so the plants can get nutrients with minimal effort. Therefore many farmers and gardeners use it as an organic fertilizer to grow their crops and plants. Worm composting is a convenient way to dispose organic waste to reduce the amount of household garbage that goes to the landfill. You can use your homemade vermicompost immediately or you can store it and use it during the gardening season without a problem. It’s an excellent organic fertilizer and soil conditioner which you can use to feed and nurture plants.
How to Make Vermicompost
Worm composting is easy and inexpensive. All you need are four basic things to setting up a worm bin in your garden. First you need to select a suitable container, a commercially made worm bin will be a good choice or create your own from a normal plastic container. According to your preference, you can also use wood or bricks to make your worm bin. The bin should be shallow rather than deep because most earthworms are surface dwellers.
Once the container is ready, you need to prepare the bedding for worms. Worms need food, air, moisture, darkness and ideal temperatures to survive. So if your worm bin provides what worms need, then making vermicompost will be successful. Bedding made of moist cardboard, shredded wet newspaper and leaves will provide ideal living conditions for earthworms.
Besides the moist cardboard, wet newspaper and leaves, you need to add good quality food scraps to the bin to provide them with enough food. Earthworms are vegetarians, so don’t give them meat or fish, animal wastes, any form of butter, cheese and oily foods. Worms love fruit peels, vegetable scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds, tea bags, breads and grains. So it is essential to add what worms love to your worm bin.
You cannot make vermicompost without worms, so now it’s time to get some earthworms for your worm bin. If you don’t already have suitable worms at home, you need to buy them from a worm farm. White worms and red wigglers will be a good choice for your worm bin, but you can use some types of other earthworms as well.
If you create a good environment and take care of your worms, they will eat all your food scraps in the bin and make compost within three to six months. Once the bin is filled with vermicompost, it’s time to harvest the bin. So you need to remove the finished compost from the bin and separate worms from it. At this point you should also remove undecomposed food scraps separately. Now you can use the separated worms and undecomposed food scraps to make your next vermicompost batch.
How to Use Vermicompost
Gardeners can use vermicompost in many different ways. It’s a good organic fertilizer that you can add to improve the soil’s fertility. Worm compost contains nearly five times more nitrogen, seven times more phosphorus and eleven times more potassium than garden soil. It also contains natural growth hormones and trace minerals that are critical to optimal plant growth. You can use it as a top dressing for your plants and to make seed starting or potting mix.
Worm compost is rich in beneficial microbes and bacteria. These beneficial microbes in worm compost protect the roots of your plants, so the plants are able to defend themselves against diseases and pests. The humic acid in worm castings stimulates plant growth and improves the soil structure while delivering the nutrients to the soil. Therefore you can get many benefits from using worm castings as a natural organic fertilizer for your plants.
Vermicompost is an all purpose natural organic fertilizer. It is the end product of the breakdown of organic matter by various species of earthworms. Worm castings are rich in water soluble plant nutrients and humus. Because worm castings will never burn plants, you can use as much of it for any plant according to your choice. You can also use worm castings as a liquid fertilizer by mixing it with water. Therefore according to the reasons and facts mentioned above, adding worm castings to your garden is the best thing you can do to improve soil, increase yields, and prevent both pests and diseases.
- Worm castings are a rich, all natural source of organic matter with lots of nutrients and moisture holding capabilities.
- Compared to regular compost, vermicompost contains more antibiotic properties against pathogens and higher amounts of natural plant growth hormones.
- Worm castings are extremely dark and rich in texture.
- Earthworm castings are the best imaginable potting soil for greenhouses or house plants, as well as gardening and farming.
- Microbial activity in worm castings is 10 – 20 times higher than the soil and organic matter that the worm ingests.
- Composting worms can eat up to their body weight on a daily basis.
- For every 1000 worms raised to full maturity, a half cubic yard of worm castings is produced.
- The compost material created by worms is smaller than 2 microns.
- Each worm will eat 20 ounces of matter per year.
- 100 tons of earthworm castings contain 4 pounds of Nitrate Nitrogen, 30 pounds of phosphorous, 72 pounds of potassium, 90 pounds of magnesium and 500 pounds of calcium (equivalent to 4-69-86 fertilizer).