Monday, December 7, 2009

worm composting or vermicomposting

worms naturally
regenerate the soil’s lost nutrients
Stimulate microbial activity
Mix and aggregate soil
Increase infiltration of water into the soil
Improve water-holding capacity
Provide root growth channels
Shred and bury plant residue
Aerate the soil and
tempt fish to bite hooks!

Worm composting is using worms to recycle food scraps and other organic material into a valuable soil amendment called vermicompost, or worm castings. Worms eat food scraps, which become compost as they pass through the worm's body. Compost exits the worm through its' tail end. This compost can then be used to grow plants. (worm castings and tea are known to be a natural insecticide, fungicide and liquid fertilizer) To understand why vermicompost is good for plants, remember that the worms are eating nutrient-rich fruit and vegetable scraps, and turning them into nutrient-rich compost. Vermiculture, requires very little work, produces no offensive odors, and helps plants thrive. Only a few things are needed to make good worm compost: a bin, bedding, worms, and worm food.

types of worm bins

Your bin needs to be only 8″-16″ deep, since compost worms are surface feeders. You can build your own bin, use a washtub, a dish pan, a used shipping crate, or a commercially available worm bin. Just be sure your bin has a lid to keep out flies and rodents, and holes in the bottom a quarter inch or smaller, for ventilation and drainage. The rule of thumb for bin size is two square feet of surface area per person, or one square foot of surface area per pound of food waste per week. Because worms like moderate temperatures, place your bin in a shady location where it will not freeze or overheat. Here are some good choices: kitchen corner, garage, basement, patio, outside back door, laundry room.

There are different methods of making worm bins.Research a bit and find out what is the right option for you.

Here I basically use the top version of the bins. However on the bottom bin i put a little spigot instead of the lower tray to collect the vermi liquid so that I can open the valve and get the liquid off the bin in order to make a tea .


Once you decide on what sort of bin you will use(the most work of it all), then you will need to give them lil wigglers some bedding.

Black and white newspaper is the most readily available and easy-to-use bedding material.Old leaves is also a good starter in the bin. Tear it into strips about one inch wide and moisten so it is as damp as a wrung-out sponge. A handful or two of soil, ground limestone, or well-crushed eggshells every few months are good for providing grit and calcium. Fill your bin with moistened bedding, toss in a few handfuls of soil, and you are ready to add the worms and food. Over time, the bedding and food are eaten by the worms and turned into dark worm compost.


The best kind of worms for composting are “red worms,” or “red wigglers.” They are often found in old compost piles, but are different from the earthworms you would normally find in the ground. These worms have a big appetite, reproduce quickly, and thrive in confinement. They can eat more than their own weight in food every day! When purchasing red worms, one pound is all you need to get started.

You do not need to special order your worms. If you dont have an outdoor compost pile to scavenge them from, head to your local bait shop or even chinamart in the fishing and hunting section.

Feeding the worms

Worms like to eat many of the same things we eat, only they aren’t so picky. Stale bread, apple cores, orange peels, lettuce trimmings, coffee grounds, and non-greasy leftovers are just some of the food worms love that we usually discard.

Do compost: vegetable scraps, fruit peelings, bread and grains, tea bags, non-greasy leftovers, coffee grounds and filters, well-crushed eggshells.

Do not compost: meat, bones, fats, dairy products, rubber bands, twigs and branches, dog and cat feces, greasy foods.

Begin feeding your worms only a little at a time. As they multiply, you can add larger quantities of food wastes. Bury the waste into the bedding regularly, rotating around the bin as you go. When you return to the first spot, most of the food you buried there should have been eaten. If not, don’t worry. Just feed the worms less for a while.

trouble shooting

Worms Dying. If your worms are dying there could be several causes. It may be that they are not getting enough food, which means you should bury food into the bedding. They may be too dry, in which case you should moisten the box until it is slightly damp. They may be too wet, in which case you should add bedding. The worms may be too hot, in which case you should put the bin in the shade. Or, it could be the case that the bedding is eaten, and it is time to add fresh bedding.

Bin Smells. If your bin smells rotten and/or attracts flies, there may be three causes. First, it may be that there is not enough air circulation. In this case, add dry bedding under and over the worms, and do not feed them for two weeks. Second, there may be non-compostables present such as meat, pet feces, or greasy food. These should be removed. Third, there may be exposed food in the bin. In this case, secure the lid, cover food scraps with bedding, and cover worms and bedding with a sheet of plastic.

Harvesting Your Worm Compost

After you have been feeding your worms for three to six months, you may notice the bedding has been eaten, and you can begin harvesting the brown, crumbly worm compost. Harvesting the compost and adding fresh bedding at least twice a year is necessary to keep your worms health

Methods for harvesting your compost

Move the contents of your worm bin to one side, place fresh bedding in the empty space and bury your food wastes there for a month or so. Harvest the other side after the worms have migrated to the new food and bedding.

Spread a sheet of plastic out under a bright light or in the sun. Dump the contents of the worm box into a number of piles on the sheet. The worms will crawl away from the light into the center of each pile and you can brush away the worm compost on the outside by hand. Soon you will have wriggling piles of worms surrounded by donut-shaped piles of worm compost.

using your compost

To mulch with worm compost, apply a one-inch layer to the soil around plants. Be sure the worm compost is not piled against plant stems. To amend soil, worm compost can be spread one-half to two inches thick over garden soil and mixed in before planting, or mixed into the bottom of seeding trenches or transplanting holes.

Houseplants: Sprinkle worm compost around the base of plants to fertilize. Each time you water, plant nutrients will seep into the soil.

Potting Mixes: For healthy seedlings, mix one part worm compost with three parts potting mix or three parts sand and soil combined. Peat moss, perlite, and worm castings are also good ingredients to add.

Making tea from the vermiliquid

For home use, teas can be applied to flowers, perennials, turf, roses, shrubs, trees and vegetables from a hand sprayer at a dilution ratio of one part fresh, undiluted tea to five parts water, applied once per week. The tea can be applied more or less frequently or at a lower dilution ratio as needed based on performance.

why worm cast tea is great for plants

Living microbes and beneficial plant-growth compounds go right to work when worm casting tea is applied to soil or plant leaves.Worm castings are one of the best organic fertilizers with a neutral pH and a high nutrient content of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium.Because it increases the complexity and diversity of organisms in the root zone, it helps fight diseases and pests and boosts the plant's natural immune system. It will not burn the most delicate plants.
Because it is watersoluble it begins feeding the plant immediately.

1 comment:

  1. Nice information, adding worms to gardens will increase the soil fertility and increases the plant growth rate. I am also searching for best methods like vermicomposting to increase my plants growth.