I just love using the word vermicomposting. It sounds so technical and makes me sound a little more important then I probably am. The truth of the matter though is that vermicomposting is simply a fancy term for raising and using worms in your compost. I wish I could have read the thoughts of the librarian when I checked out a book on the topic a few months ago!
Have you heard of vermicomposting? Been curious about it? Well then this post is for you!
It’s certainly an unconventional livestock, yet it’s becoming a popular one. Why? Well, simply put, worm castings (fancy word for poo) are gardening gold! And they don’t take up much space, so they are ideal for urban homesteads. Worms have the ability to convert compostable waste into nutrient dense soil. It’s highly prized among gardeners and some people have capitalized on it and have entire businesses based on producing and selling worm castings! Beyond valuable byproduct, worms offer a slew of other benefits,
- Speeding up the composting process – they can be added to your regular compost pile to help turn it and speed the process along
- Castings or the worms themselves can be put directly into the garden immediate infusion of nutrients.
- Specific species of worms (nightcrawlers to be exact) can be put in your garden beds and be used to turn the soil. They travel deep into the ground and bring up nutrients beyond the reach of the roots of your plants. This is also beneficial for soils that lean heavily on either side of the clay-sand spectrum, as they can mix the soils for you naturally.
- They can double their population in 3 months – this means you’ll have plenty to use as fishing bait, chicken treats, expanding your composting projects, or even to sell.
Worms require a few basics and after that you can pretty much leave them alone. They need a bin to live in, relatively stable temperature, darkness, moisture, and food. That’s it! You can purchase premade worm bins, or you can build your own. I’ll be posting a quick tutorial on how I built ours later this week. Once you have your worm bin, you need to put it in a dark, cool, dry place. Here is where buying locally will help you out. I was able to find a local vermicomposting business and purchase 1lb of red wigglers from them, so these worms are already accustom to our climate. All I needed to do was set the bin in a shady area with some over hang to keep it from filling with rain water. I opted to put it right outside my back porch. Many people keep them indoors. If you don’t over feed the worms, there shouldn’t be any smell.
Once your bin is set up in a good spot, you can add in your new worms and start feeding them your kitchen scraps! Worms can eat their own weight in roughly 2 days, longer if you don’t chop up the scraps for them. Be sure not to feed them too much or it will mold and you’ll have problems on your hands. Most people can feed their worms two or three times a week. You can feed them most anything other then meat, fats, citrus, and dairy.
After 3 months you should be able to harvest your premium garden compost! Pretty quick right? Faster then that compost pile I’ve been ignoring!
If you’re interested in reading more about vermicomposting, I’d highly recommend The Complete Guide to Working with Worms, it is jam packed with all kinds of great information on how to raise worms, details on many different species of worms, and how to best put them to work for you.
Have you put worms to work for you? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments!
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