Worms sometimes get a bad reputation. After all, they look slimy and squiggly which makes some people feel a bit repulsed. But really worms are one of the great workhorses in nature.
You could think of them as nature’s recyclers because that’s what they do in the wild: they recycle what they find and return it to the soil where it helps more things grow. So how did this help you as a gardener? Well, you can take advantage of the worm’s natural recycling capabilities by getting involved in the worm compost process.
What is Worm Compost?
You’re probably already familiar with the term compost that refers to decaying materials that are used as fertilizer. This type of compost is the same type of fertilizer but it’s made by the worms using materials you provide.
Here’s how it works. You gather up kitchen scraps, fallen leaves, branches, or any other waste that would normally just end up in the trash and at the local landfill. Add those goodies to a special bin filled with hungry worms and let the worms dine to their hearts’ content.
As a result of the worm’s digestion, you’ll end up with an easy to apply liquid fertilizer and worm castings which can also be added to the soil for further enrichment.
Even if you’re not too keen on having lots of worms around, don’t worry. Making the compost is not going to involve a lot of direct contact with the worms. You’ll provide them with a comfortable home in the bin, as well as a balanced diet of things for them to eat.
Then you’ll collect the digestion by-products from beneath the bin. Incidentally, you can buy composting bins that are already set up the way you want them.
Worm Compost is an Important Plant Growth Factor
Worm composting is essentially creating a box that is full of moistened bedding and red worms, which in turn will create a wonderful compost pile for you. This is a great project to bring into a classroom or an office, or you may simply start one at home to nourish your own garden. What can you do to start worm composting yourself?
The first thing that you are going to need is a box. Make sure that it is made out of wood or plastic, and that it has holes in the bottom. Plastic is easy to clean and watertight, but it might not have the drainage that you need it to have. If you find that it is not draining well, just drill a few more holes in the bottom. Wood has an advantage because it is a natural insulator as well as being absorbent.
You can locate your worm box in your basement, your shed, your garage, or even just under the sink. Remember that it should be kept out of extreme temperatures and that unless it is well insulated, the box should be brought inside when it drops below forty degrees. You should put a tray underneath to catch the excess water, but remember to throw it out where it can do the best; it is a great liquid fertilizer.
Let’s consider the kind of worms that you are going to need. The kind that most people use for worm composting is known as red worms; you are not going to get any results at all if you go out and dig up a bunch of nightcrawlers! Red worms, which are also known as red wigglers, brandling worms, and manure worms, tend to live in aged manure, compost heap, and leaf piles.
They are the worms that thrive the best on organic material, and since you are largely going to be feeding them food waste, they are ideal. You can order your worms for a compost pile online, or you can see if anyone with a good compost pile or some aged manure has worms to spare.
How many worms will you need? If you are looking to chuck about one pound’s worth of food waste a day into the box, you are going to need around 2000 worms. When you can only get a fraction of this number, start by feeding less and then adding more as your population grows up.
You may be pleasantly surprised by how fast your worms start breeding. They are sexually mature within two to three months, and after that, they are going to be able to produce baby worms that mature within twenty-one days.
When you want to make a warm home for your worms, think about the bedding that they are going to need. The bedding should be damp, and there are lots of great choices out there that just happen to be wonderfully cheap and easy to get.
Shredded newspaper can be used, as can dry grass clippings, shredded fall leaves, chopped up straw, seaweed, sawdust, aged manure, or shredded cardboard. Peat moss can also be used, but because it is fairly acidic, it should be soaked thoroughly and then mixed with other bedding.
Then throw in about two handfuls of sand or soil to give your worms the grit they need to digest well. The bedding should be slightly damp but not soaking and remember that the bedding should be turned to make sure that the proper airflow is getting in.
What are you going to need to feed your worms?
Most people find that their worms will eat anything that is of vegetable or fruit origins, but you can also throw in things like used tea bags, crushed eggshells, and coffee grounds. If you want to make sure that you don’t attract pests like rodents, don’t toss in meat or dairy products. Keep non-biodegradable materials like plastic and tin foil away.
When you want to put your worm food in, pull aside the bedding and bury it in deep before covering it with the bedding again. Bury food in different locations every day. Remember that your worm box should have about one square foot of surface area for every pound of food you want to put in per week.
There are lots of reasons to use worm composting, so consider what good it can do for you! With worm composting, you can recycle your food waste and turn it into a great compost pile that will serve your plants and garden well.
The Benefits of Using Worm Compost
One of the biggest plant growth factors is you’re going to have better soil for growing all types of things, including plants and vegetables. This beneficial compost is actually at work in the forests all over the world and is responsible for providing the rich soil things need to grow there. It’s a natural process that ensures the continued nutrient richness of the soil.
Another benefit is that it’s good for the environment. Because the worms are going to be speeding up the decomposition of things you would normally just toss away and that would begin more junk in our landfills, you’re going to be easing the burden a bit.
You could also see health benefits from using worm compost. If you have richer soil and can grow more things better, you might be inclined to give up buying so much of your product in supermarkets. That would lower the number of pesticides and herbicides being used on your foods dramatically.
Finally, you’ll also find that composting with worms is much easier than any other method. Because the bins are small and relatively odor-free, you can keep them anywhere, even in an apartment. And don’t forget that you’ll be giving a wonderful life to some very deserving worms.
Red Worm Composting
There are different types of composting systems that you are likely to find in many homes. The main challenge that is faced by some homeowners is the lack of space. There are some people who do not have a good place to site a compost system.
The good news is that there are alternative composting systems that you can use. The best system to go for when you are in such a situation is to use red worm composting. Red worms are very important as they can aid in the conversion of kitchen wastes to humus.
Many people are in love with these worms as they are not only fascinating but also beneficial. This worm composting system is also known as home vermiculture. The system comprises the following:
- A red worm container/box
- The red worms which are biological organisms
- The temperature, acid, and moisture are regulated
- A well-maintained system where food waste is buried and The red worms are separated from the compost
For the composting system to function effectively, there are various issues that you have to consider. First and foremost, you should put into consideration both the needs of the owner and of the red worms. The owners’ needs may include convenience and preferences.
You should know that for the proper functioning of the red worms they require regulated moisture content, temperature, ph, and aeration. In order to maintain the ideal temperature inside the box, it is important to measure it using a thermometer.
High temperatures can be fatal to the red worms and even cause their death. Low temperatures will reduce the performance rate of the worms.
On the other hand, moisture is important for the survival of the worms. They breathe through the skin which is supposed to be moist.
It is important to know that redworms usually rely on the top layer for their feeds. This means that the compost container should not be deep. The maximum depth of the compost container is 1.5 inches. This will help the worms to act on the waste effectively.
The size of the compost box to use will be based on the amount of kitchen waste you generate in a week. For example, a small box can be perfect for waste being generated by two people.
Some of the things that you should avoid using in the compost box include chemical treated woods and recycled containers. Some materials that can be used in these composting systems include old boxes and wood pallets.
Another essential thing that you should consider in this type of composting system is the bedding materials. Some examples of the bedding materials that you can use include shredded newspaper, corrugated cardboard, soil, peat moss, and old decaying leaves.
The good news is that there are varieties of red worms that you can use for the home composting systems. Eisenia Foetida is an example of redworms that helps to produce a lot of compost from manure and leaves.
Red Worm Composting is a leader in the field of raising, selling, and harvesting redworms. Their site is packed with articles, videos, and pictures.
Many gardeners buy thousands of redworms from their stores annually. If you have purchased worms from them or have had a positive or negative experience dealing with the company, we love to hear your review of the red worm composting company.