Vermicomposting with Worms
Vermicomposting – Letting The Worms Do The Work
Today, as much as 30% of all the household waste and rubbish generated by the home consists of garden and yard wastes. This garden waste contains thousands of tons of leaves, grass clippings, and other such biodegradable, compostable materials which are sent to directly to local authority landfills and incinerators each year. The problem with these types of garden and yard wastes buried in landfills is that they contribute to methane gas and leachate as they decompose which in itself can pollute our air and local water supplies.
Yet half of all the household waste that is incinerated or ends up in landfill could be composted or even turned into a usable Biomass material. Every year gardeners around the world buy millions of tons of growing media, soil conditioners, and mulching materials, much of it based on peat. A high proportion of this could be replaced, free of charge. If households and gardeners started recycling what they now simply throw away, the impact on the environment in reduced landfills, pollution and the need to destroy natural habitats by excavating peat, would be enormous and with the help of our little friends underground, the vermicomposting of wastes into usable compost is easily achievable, as composting is recycling naturally providing us with an alternative energy source.
There are plenty of very good reasons for gardeners to make compost, but the biggest incentive of all is that it saves you money. Composting is a natural process that’s easy to implement. Its easy for you because you will have a first class team of helpers that will do almost all the hard work for you.
Naturally occurring micro-organisms (mainly bacteria and fungi) do the hard part of breaking down organic materials into compost. All you have to do to keep your little decomposers working hard 24-7, is provide them what they need: The right kinds of food, and the right amount of air, water, and warmth. Then just sit back and let the worms do the work!.
Garden soil is not an inert material. Living within it is an almost unbelievably diverse, living community of micro-organisms, worms and bugs. Unlike garden plants and shrubs, these micro-organisms and bugs which live and breed in the soil cannot make their own food so depend on organic rich matter from our world above. So the more organic matter you put onto the compost heap the more microbes and worms there are.
A compost heap is a complete ecosystem on its own, a sort of world in miniature. Worms eat the decaying vegetation and excrete organic compounds that help enrich the mixture, while their never-ending burrowing creates tunnels and passageways which helps to aerate the compost. Millipedes, slugs, snails, and woodlice all help to shred the plant materials, creating more surface area for bacteria and fungi to grow. It’s a never ending circle.
All these micro-organisms and bugs that turn your rotting plant material into good quality compost for the garden, eat the same sort of things that you do. They need energy, most conveniently supplied by carbon rich carbohydrates as in plant cellulose. They also need nitrogen and phosphorus, to make proteins and other vital molecules as well as just enough water to stop the compost heap from drying out.
Worms love wet moist compost so require a compost with a high moisture content. With the exception of extreme heat or cold, nothing will kill worms faster than a lack of adequate moisture. But not too moist, as too much water conflicts with the need for air to help aerate the compost. Too wet and you end up with a smelly, waterlogged anaerobic compost pile that will take years to decompose.
Worm compost, also called vermicompost, vermicast, worm castings or worm manure, is the composting material produced by the breakdown of natural material by earthworms. Vermicompost is a nutrient-rich, organic fertilizer, and soil conditioner. The process of letting the worms do the work is called vermicomposting and the resulting rich medium they produce is called vermicompost.
Vermicomposting contains not only worm castings, but also bedding materials and other organic wastes at a mixture of stages of decomposition. The vermicompost also contains worms at different stages of growth and other micro-organisms associated with the process. It has been said that earthworm treated compost can contain 5 to 10 times more additional nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium than an untreated soil.
Compost worms are big eaters and can quickly eat their weight in food in just one day. Composting worms will eat almost everything organic, but they definitely prefer some foods to others such as vegetable scraps, leaves, and grasses, fruit scraps and peels, mouldy bread and grains, moist papers and manures, etc. The bedding in a vermicomposting bin retains moisture, reduces odours, and serves as food for the worms.
Vermicomposting Bins or Wormeries are used to house your worms and compost. Containing both the worms and compost in a bin helps to keep things neater. They can be home made from simple wood boxes with lids or purchased through mail order gardening supply catalogues. Below are some examples of manufactured bins that can be purchased.
More often than not, the companies that supply wormeries will also supply the worms as a complete starters kit. As the worms eat their way through the materials in your vermicomposting bin, the soil like contents of the bin darken and begin to smell moist and earthy. This is your finished vermicompost (worm compost) and the whole concept behind vermicomposting is to let the worms do the work.
Vermicompost cannot be considered a fertilizer, but it does contain important plant nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus full of nutrients necessary to promote strong, healthy plant growth as well as giving you some of the richest potting soil around as it contains many nutrients needed to grow strong, healthy plants both in your house and in your garden.
Vermicomposting and vermicompost is an excellent soil amendment and provides many benefits to the soil. It improves the permeability of compacted clay soil and the water retention ability of sandy soil. It is a great alternative to expensive petroleum-based fertilizers and will increase the organic matter content of the soil. Over the summer months, energy rich nutrients required by the garden plants are slowly released as soil organisms continue working on the compost.
To learn more about how “Vermicomposting” works, to obtain more information about the various worms available for vermicomposting or to explore the advantages and disadvantages of composting with worms, then Click Here today to get your copy from Amazon of one of the top “Worm Farming and Vermicomposting Guides” and learn more about the different ways to produce good quality compost in your garden just by letting the worms do the work.