Where can you turn when you want an easy, natural way to produce the perfect plant food and soil amendment? Not an expensive nursery, not a months-long class in soil building, not a complicated five-foot high backyard compost pile. Just the age-old, totally simple, powerful nutrition of compost made by your friendly neighborhood worms!
Worm composting is fun, easy, and produces the most amazing fertilizer, aka “castings.” What makes worm castings so great? It’s the worm. As it digests organic material, it refines them. Nutrients, including minerals and trace elements, are reduced to their most usable form. This “black gold” is chock-full of organic plant food, plus beneficial microbes that aid plant growth and help fight off disease. As an amendment, castings are completely finished and unlike some other creature manures, don’t smell strongly (they smell like forest soil) nor will they burn plants due to too much direct nitrogen. Castings do contain 4% to 5% more nitrogen than your average garden soil, but in a slow release form due to the mucous the worms secrete as they digest.
To learn the easiest and most productive way to create your own mini worm farm at home, join us for the workshop: “Getting Wriggly With It: Build A Worm Composting Bin” on July 18th. Each family will build and take home their own worm bin, ready to use! Registration and more details are here. This workshop has limited space, so sign up now!
Using worm castings outdoors or on your potted plants makes the soil more absorbent, making moisture more consistently available to plants and preventing soil from completely drying out. It introduces uncountable numbers of beneficial microbes and bacteria into your soil or containrers, guaranteeing the healthiest soil possible. In addition, castings contain humic acid which aids plant nutrient absorption.
Vermicomposting directly harnesses the power of worms to improve the composting process. Large numbers of worms are added to the compost bin all at once. The best composting worms are Red Worms. These champion composting worms are hearty and hungry. They feed on your kitchen scraps (with exception of meat & dairy, onion skins and citrus peels), and have no desire to leave the haven of their worm bin. Vermicomposting is done in “bedding” which can consist of coconut coir, shredded black & white newspaper, pure peat moss, composted leaves, or other material. And yes, there are easy ways to harvest the castings, and leave the worms behind!
Some other benefits of composting with worms include:
It's fast! Add 500 or more red worms to the composting bin and they will start chowing on bedding and vegetation. Under ideal conditions, they can eat half their weight in vegetation each day. Starting with a smaller amount of worms is fine, but they will take some time to increase their population to the ideal size for your bin.
Less odor than regular composting. The worms break down the vegetation faster, reducing rot and odors. Organic matter should be buried so the worms can find the food easily. Covered worm food emits less odor into the air. The bins do need air circulation, so plastic bins should have holes drilled. Wooden bins breathe naturally so don't need the holes.
Indoors or outdoors. Apartment dwellers often can’t place a regular compost bin outdoors. Some householders find indoor composting more convenient. Regular composting is not fast enough for indoors. But composting worms eat the organic waste quickly and efficiently, without odor. Therefore, vermicomposting can be done inside or outside.