Worm Composting for an Organic Garden

Chances are you’ve never been told the term vermiculture, if that is so don’t worry, a lot of knowledgeable gardeners are not really acquainted with this organic gardening technique. It is my opinion vermiculture is intriguing; stated simply it is worm composting. We’re not referring to typical night crawlers, but rather particular types of worms like red worms, as well as red wigglers.

Worm composting or utilizing worms to assist with the composting of kitchen scraps is nothing revolutionary; the fact is the concept has actually been around for many years. While composting the old fashion way, required dumping any biodegradable kitchen waste onto a heap and allowing Mother Nature perform her part. The waste sooner or later breaks down and turns into Organic and nourishing soil, that will then be utilized as organic fertilizer for your plants, flowers and shrubs.

organic garden worm compostingA completely efficient compost heap doesn’t simply materialize on its own, it will be a learning procedure. Several disadvantages include things like the need to manually turn over the heap to oxygenate your rich compost. Subject to the amount of kitchen waste you add on the heap, an additional problem is the food scraps decay under the sun before developing into compost which will bring about a predicament your next door neighbor will not support. Bugs, fruit flies, possum and raccoons along with a whole host of other critters also enjoy food waste. Obviously, as soon as you acquire a bit of expertise along with the processes, you may improve your method and ease many of these concerns. However, imagine if there were an easy self-contained option that will never leave a pile of garbage in your backyard that is not going to necessitate very much of your focus? Enter the self-contained closed worm composting container.

Vermicomposting isn’t complex, however the worms are living organisms, that have particular needs. For instance, they don’t withstand very hot living conditions, additionally they won’t survive freezing. The worms are fairly healthy eaters, so while eggshells are okay, don’t try putting any kind of meat, fats, or greasy foods into their diet regime.

If it seems a bit similar to owning some sort of pet, well it really is. Not dreadfully demanding, however they do demand a bit of your attention to ensure that everything runs efficiently. In return they’ll be hard at work carrying out their community service to save the planet and to allow you to grow an excellent garden.

 

  -If you want to learn more about heap composting, check out our post: Compost, Built the Perfect Pile

 

cross section worm compostingGetting Started Worm Composting

The first thing you’ll want is a bin. You could purchase a commercially produced worm bin however where’s the fun in that. Those plastic or rubber storage bins create good worm bins. Drill a couple of openings in the bin so the worms have ample air. It is important to cover those openings with little bits of window screen or something else which will keep the fruit flies away. If you have any plumbing knowledge, you may want to include a hose spigot around the base of the bin to reap the benefits of worm tea. Worm tea is more desirable than compost tea for your plants. All you need to do is put a cup or two to a large watering can and fill the rest with water. And then water like normal, with an exquisite natural organic fertilizer.

Next you’ll need to have some worm bedding. Most often utilized worm bedding for home bins is shredded newspapers. The bedding needs to be damp but not water logged. Use a spray bottle to always keep the bedding ideal for your worms. Whenever your purchase worms in the mail they will typically ship in a box containing peat moss. A lot of people have quit working with peat moss as a political statement. The simple truth is peat is not a replenishable resource. Peat needs centuries to cultivate in swampy areas and it’s simply getting used up too rapidly. Other’s assert that Peat is now produced in a safe technique and what’s all of the worry about anyway. The two sides contradict one another therefore it’s down to you to determine whether you wish to make use of it. Newspapers are readily available and you could have a pile of them in your home currently. So why not stay away from the entire debate and choose what’s available.

worm compostingAnd don’t overlook to add a bit of dirt in the container as well. Worms don’t possess teeth, and therefore they require a little grit to help grind up their food. You can even make use of rock dust or even powdered limestone rather than dirt if you want, but ordinary dirt from your yard works good.

Last but not least, let’s not fail to remember the worms. Digging up various worms from the yard is not going to work in a worm bin. Worms that come from the soil, wish to stay in the soil. For worm bins, you’ll want red wigglers. They’ll absolutely love the habitat that you’ve developed in your worm bin. The amount you should order, that will depend on the size of the bin. Let’s assume that you’ve built your worm bin for the worm castings rather than to have loads of worms for your weekends fishing. Which means that you’re intending to keep the worms in the bin until they’ve changed nearly all of the bedding and food waste into vermicompost. The worm to waste ratio ought to be 2 :1. Which means if you’re planning to put a half lb of waste into the bin daily, then you certainly ought to start out with a pound of worms.

worm composting worm binYou’ve setup the bin, the worms are now living in it, for the next few months just about all you need to do is supply them the appropriate items in the correct quantities until the time is right to harvest the castings.

Exactly what do they desire? Organic foods, similar to all the items people eat, just with perhaps better diversity. Organic consists of anything that is alive or ever was alive. The same as humans, red wigglers like a good amount of fiber as well as a diverse diet.

Understand that you are not simply feeding the worms, but additionally the thousands of microscopic organisms that are breaking down the food for the worms. These kinds of microorganisms are only able to work on the food surfaces which they can access, therefore the smaller you cut up the kitchen garbage, the simpler it will be for all of the decomposers to accomplish their tasks. However, if you don’t, sooner or later they are able to break it down however it is going to take more time.

Make sure you bury the food under the bedding and ensure you do not overfeed the worms.

What to Feed Worms

You shouldn’t run short of stuff to feed worms. The following is a short listing of worm’s favorites:

apple peels & cores orange peels coffee grounds & filters
vegetable trimmings cabbage grapefruit peels
celery egg shells melon rinds
lettuce onion peel potato peels
tea bags banana peels plate scrapings
leftovers leaves bedding in the bin

Do NOT feed your worms the following:

meat bones dairy products
sauces oils salty foods (chips, olives)
vinegar green grass fruit pits

 

Starting up a worm bin is an entertaining endeavor for all in the family. Get your children engaged, they’ll really like seeing those little worms wiggle around the bin. If you’re fortunate, you could possibly see one of the kids chase your mother in law around the house with a fistful of worms. As I said, vermicompost bins are wonderful things for the entire family and just the thing for your organic garden as well.

 

The most frequent problems in worm composting are:

Problem: Allowing the bin to become too wet

red wigglersThis water stems from a number of sources. You added water to the bedding at the time you created the bin. The second thing is, you add more water each time you add food waste since 80-90% of food waste is water. The next source, however, results from the water generated by the microorganisms as well as the worms when they process the waste, giving off carbon dioxide as well as water as end products.

The water vapor generated in the course of these metabolic functions condenses on the smooth, non-porous sides of the plastic box. This condensation accumulates dissolved nutrients while it trickles down through the vermicompost to the bottom. It is usually termed “castings tea” or even “vermicompost tea.” Following are some ways to eliminate the issue of excessive moisture.

Solution #1

Add more dry bedding Introducing dry shredded papers to the surface area of the worm container every 2-3 weeks aids in reducing excessive moisture issues. While the vapor pressure inside the bin increases, the water vapor condenses on the lid and then “rains” on the fresh dry bedding, rendering it extremely damp. Within a couple of days, the excessive moisture distributes itself through the container and water standing in the bottom is significantly less of an issue.
According to Mary Appelhof, author of Worms Eat My Garbage, the worms appear to prefer the oxygen-rich layer around the fresh bedding on the top. Frequent inclusions of the carbon source which bedding delivers also appear to enhance performing of the whole process.

Solution #2

Pull off with a turkey baster The majority of the liquid at the bottom is waste excreted by the worms and not beneficial in their living area. Some individuals accumulate this surplus liquid so as to utilize diluted amounts of it to their house plants. Push a strainer into the moist bedding in the bottom of the container. The castings tea seeps out and is effortlessly pulled up into the turkey baster without any bedding clogging the opening.

wormcompostSolution #3

Pour off or drain Tilting the container while holding back the bedding as you pour off the vermicompost tea is doable, however it may need 2 people to get the job done. In the event that the earlier methods don’t work, and your container is in an area in which excessive water is an ongoing issue, Mary Appelhof suggests drilling a single opening close to the base of one side of the container and then plugging it with a cork or perhaps a rubber stopper. On the handful of instances when you need to drain it, simply take out the plug.

Solution #4

Create a peat-moss “worm” A Kalamazoo worm worker, Jean DeMott, shared with Appelhof her innovative method of handling excessive water in her container. She reused a worn out pair of pantyhose by slicing a leg off and then stuffing it with peat moss. Shutting each end with rubber bands, she put the massive peat-moss “worm” deep into her worm bin and allowed it to soak up the castings tea. She then simply applied the peat moss containing all of the nutrients from the worm bin as a part of her potting mix whenever she repotted plants.

Problem: Improper bin upkeep

composting-wormsSwitching the bedding .
In approximately 6 weeks, you will start to observe obvious changes in the bedding. Even though you add food waste on a regular basis, the bedding quantity is going to gradually decrease.
When more of the bedding and waste is transformed to castings, considerable decomposition and composting by other organisms in the container also occurs. As time passes, the proportion of castings increases while the environmental quality for the worms diminishes.
There will come a point in time when a great deal of the bedding in the container turns into castings that the worms are going to suffer.
Since every method is unique – based upon bedding employed, amount of worms, kinds of waste given to them, container temperature and humidity conditions – it is certainly not possible for you to forecast exactly when you have to take care of adjusting the environment of the worms. It is essential to get them removed from their castings as well as preparing new bedding for them at the ideal time.

 

worm composting infographic

 

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