Californian red worm on top of compost pile. Redworms used for vermicomposting or making compost.

Vermicompost is very important to good soil. In the preceding article on Organic Farming among the segments dealt with soil and how important having healthy soil is to Organic Farming as a nutritious soil equates to healthful vegetables and cattle. One of the chief contributors to this procedure is that the lowly earthworm. However, a growing number of people nowadays are realizing how useful this little creature is. The casts, or the manure that’s produced by earthworms, is called vermicompost.

Lot of advantages

      • If you start your own vermicompost pile you create an endless supply of inexpensive compost that’s chemically-free, eco friendly and utilizes up biodegradable thing that before you would dispose of.
      • The vermicompost is friable and enhances not just the construction of the soil, but also the speed of water retention.
      • The soil is enriched. The concentrations of potassium, magnesium, calcium, and phosphates are higher in soil which has earthworms.
      • Vermicompost also suppresses certain kinds of weeds which would have increased if the compost were not present.
      • It promotes better root growth and construction, and is an outstanding medium for growing seedlings and seeds since it enhances germination and crop yields.

So now that we understand the advantages of pig farming, how can we go about setting up a little pig farm and what type of bin should you pick?

Abot the bins

What Size of Bin and Type of Bin is Best for you? For every 500 g (1 lb ) of food waste generated each week, you’ll need at least 30 cm squared (1 feet squared) of bin space. Therefore pick the size of bin that’s suitable for your size household. As a standard for 2-3 people you need to have a bin measuring 60 x 60 x 30 cm stocked with 1 kg of worms.

Most small bins for vermicompost use could be grouped into three classes:

Non-continuous

An undivided container, a layer of organic matter is put in the bin liner the bottom. Worms are then added and organic matter for composting is inserted in a layer over the bedding. Another layer is added in addition to the organic matter and the worms will begin to compost the organic matter and bedding. This sort of bin is often used as it’s small and easy to construct. But it’s relatively hard to harvest because all of the substances and worms have to be emptied out when harvesting.

Continuous vertical flow

A collection of trays are stacked vertically on top of one another. The bottom plate is filled first, in a similar manner to the non-continuous bin, but isn’t harvested when it’s full. Instead, a thick layer of bedding is added on top along with the tray over is used for incorporating organic material. Worms finish composting the stuff from the bottom tray and then migrate into the one above. When a sufficient number of worms have migrated, the vermicompost at the bottom tray can be collected and should be relatively free of worms. These bins provide a simpler method of harvesting, since they do not all need to be emptied out.

Continuous horizontal flow

A collection of trays are lined . This method also depends upon the earthworms migrating towards a food source to be able to facilitate the process of harvesting. The bin is usually built to be like some non-continuous bin but is more and lies horizontally. It’s split in half, usually with a large gauge display of chicken wire. One half is used until it becomes full, then the other half is full of bedding and organic matter. In time, the worms migrate to the side with the food and the compost can then be collected. These bins are bigger than a non-continuous system but still small enough to be used for small worm farming, with the additional benefit of being easier to harvest.

Preparing a small Worm Farm

Preparing the compost bin is simpler than you might think. All you need are the following:

      • A plastic bin with a lid to keep the flies away and also to cut back on odours while the thing is decomposing. However, your worms will require oxygen, so drill holes at the bottom of the bin for venting and drainage and further help this process by putting the bin on some bricks to lift it off the floor.
      • Place some bedding in the bin for the worms in the kind of either shredded paper (that by a mechanical shredder is ideal since it’s truly nice ), peat moss or shredded coconut (coir) that may be commercially purchased. Don’t use glossy paper or magazines. This shouldn’t be more than about a fifth of your bin space. Remember that the worms eat the bedding, so you want to replenish this every month or two.
      • Water to dampen the bedding. Make certain that you don’t flood the bin with an excessive amount of water. You only want to create the bedding moist.
      • Get your food scraps you are saving up. The best scraps are vegetable and fruit peelings, fruit skins, apple cores etc.. If you wish to help your worms along, a few of those scraps could be liquidised in a blender to hasten the procedure. Additions like sheep, cow, pig or poultry manure is a bonus, but it isn’t a necessity.
      • In establishing your vermicompost prevent feeding the worms the following: meat, fats or dairy products, citrus, garlic and onions, fish, bones, tobacco, or pet or human manure. Too much fat prevents the earthworms from breathing properly as they breathe through their skin. Also avoid using a lot of watermelon skins since they really don’t have a great deal of nutritional value to the earthworm and they also interrupt the moisture levels of the compost. If your lawns are sprayed with any weed killer prevent feeding these clippings to the worms.
      • Now it’s time to set your worms to the bin. The sort of worm is important and the red worms are the ones to get. These are known as composting worms and called Red Wigglers (Eisenia foetida) or Red Earthworms (Lumbricus rubellus). Make certain you do this on a sunny day and the sun is shining into the compost bin. Earthworms do not like sunlight and they’ll immediately start digging down in their new house. If you don’t have the sun shining for this exercise you will find that most of your worms have crawled out of the bin and left for greener pastures! The worms can be purchased commercially, including on the internet.
      • Now cover with two handfuls of dirt to the bedding in each bin to provide”roughage” for the worms. Adding crushed eggshells supplies not only roughage but also calcium for the worms, also it reduces acidity in the bin. Now put the lid back on the bin.

Where should you Place your Vermicompost Bin?

Many individuals really like to keep their bin indoors, either in a garage, basement, laundry or kitchen area. Personally, I don’t feel that compost bins belong inside whatsoever. Rather set the bin in a sheltered area out of sunlight. In winter, you can move the bin into the garage, or surround it with some type of refuge like hay bales to keep the rain, snow and chilly out.

Maintaining your Vermicompost Bin

You have to make sure that you have enough moisture in your bin, without it becoming too wet, and making certain the compost is alkaline rather than acidic. You should turn the bin contents on a regular basis, it is better to do this every 3 days. Your worms need 3 things to exist: I) Oxygen ii) Moisture iii) Food Scraps iv) A dark place to live

If all requirements are fulfilled your worms will live very happily in their new surroundings and will also procreate. Adult worms create three cocoons weekly and every cocoon will contain three or more infant worms and sometimes ten or more. Every 3 months the worms should be chosen or separated from the castings.

Ensure your soil never smells sour. If this happens it usually means that the soil is too moist. If it smells sour then add calcium carbonate, also called garden lime that’s extremely different to ordinary lime that will kill your worms, crushed egg shells, dirt, sand, or more paper to soak up that extra moisture.

So how moist should your mulch be? – About 75% moist. Just what does this mean? I can already hear you ask. Well, if you take a few thing and squeeze it hard you should only get about a drop or two of liquid. This is how your worms enjoy their surroundings and will be quite pleased to stay.

No only will they be delighted to stay they’ll also multiply. If conditions are good, you’ll double your pig population in six months. If the worms become bloated and you don’t get rid of any, then worms will slow down their breeding.

Feeding your Worms

There are two ways of adding food scraps into the bin.

Top feeding

This is when food bits and biodegradable matter is placed right on top of the present coating in a bin and then coated with another layer of soil and bedding. This is repeated every time the bin is fed.

Pocket feeding

A high layer of bedding is preserved and food is buried under by drilling down into the bedding. The location of the food is changed each time, rotating around the bin to provide the worms time to decompose the food in the formerly fed pockets. The upper layer of bedding is replaced when necessary.

One pound of worms will consume about three and one half pounds of food scraps weekly. If you include more food than your worms can manage, anaerobic conditions will set in and cause odour. Make certain food scraps are buried beneath the ground to avoid attracting rodents and flies.

When and How to Harvest

Smaller scale worm bins have been chosen in many different ways, and the amount of time it takes for the process to be finished actually depends on a wide array of factors including the size of the container to start off with. In all cases, harvesting should start when the bedding and consumed food has turned into a rich dark brown. It needs to be moist and crumbly, with a sense of coffee grounds.

After about six weeks, you will start to see worm castings (soil-like substance that has moved through the worms’ digestive tracts). Castings can boost plant growth, because they are rich in organic matter and the nutrients plants need to thrive, and are pulsing with biological action that will bring life to your soil eco-system.

After about 4 weeks it is going to be time to separate the worms from the compost. For those who get a non-continuous or undivided container, then it’s more challenging to harvest the worms. However, this situation is surely not impossible. Take the contents and flip it upside onto a sheet of plastic like a ground sheet or a tarpaulin. Because the earthworms are photosensitive, if that is done on a sunny day that the worms will begin burrowing down, then it is simple to begin scratching the compost in the surface, waiting in between for them the move downwards. Wait 20-30 minutes before beginning to scratch off the top layer of compost.

If, however, you’re the impatient type, get yourself a fine meshed sieve, the kind they use in building yards, if your compost heap is rather big, or a large household sieve is going to do. Sieve the compost till you’ve finely granulated composted on one side, and your worms at another to begin the process all over again. Don’t be lazy and put the worms in your soil together with the compost. It isn’t that the worms will harm your plants at all, but red worms aren’t worms that will endure for any period of time in such dirt. In nature, this sort of worm resides in mild climates from the leaves on the forest floor or in manure piles.

Be watching for worm eggs. They’re lemon-shaped and about the size of a match head. They’re shiny in appearance, and are light brown in colour. The eggs contain between two and twenty baby worms. Although it’s time consuming, you might choose to return the eggs into your bin so that they can hatch and flourish.

Another way to harvest the compost would be to move the compost to one side of the box and add new bedding and food to the other side. Then only bury food on the new side. In six weeks, the worms will have migrated to the new bedding and you’ll be able to harvest the finished compost, and replace it with fresh bedding.

A lot of Mulch

Now that you’ve got all this mulch how are you going to use it? You may use your own vermicompost straight away or store it and use it later. It’ll be good for about a year. Mix it into the top six inches of dirt from your garden and around your plants and trees. You could even use it as a top dressing on outdoor plants or scatter it on your lawn just like you would like you were top-dressing. Vermicompost makes great nutrient-rich mulch so is excellent for areas that don’t get a great deal of rain for moisture retention.

For indoor plants, you can safely combine vermicompost with your potting soil. Regarding indoor plants, be certain that you’ve eliminated all eggs and worms out of the compost as they won’t endure in an indoor pot.

You may even create a “compost tea” to feed into your plants. A simple recipe is to add two tbsp of vermicompost to a quart of water and let it steep for a day, mixing occasionally. Water your plants with this “tea” to give them a boost.