Gardening

Vermicomposting | Fertilize With Worm Castings

Vermicomposting is worming its way onto farms everywhere. Hereas why you should fertilize with worm castings, and how to grow your own worm composting unit.

Vermicomposting For The Homestead

Iam always looking for new ways on the farm to reuse, recycle and repurpose, and thereas nothing I love more than an opportunity to reduce the amount of waste we make. The other thing I really get passionate about is discovering new and inventive ways to do things naturally, like killing weeds with vinegar solution instead of toxic weed killers and fertilizing the garden with Epsom salts and coffee grounds instead of chemical clay enhancers. So when you can combine these two things, Iam a happy girl. Let me introduce you to vermiculture, the practice of creating worms for their castings, which is essentially worm poop.

What Is Vermicompost?

Vermicompost is a dark, peat-like material, higher in nutrients than regular compost. It is said to contain five times more nitrogen, seven times more phosphorus and 11 times more potassium than traditional compost! It is also broken down faster than a regular compost pile, due to the wormsa activity, and the enormous bonus is that they essentially do the turning of the compost pile for you, aerating the material and eliminating the back transgressing work that has always put me off having a true compost pile in the past.

Some sources say that the worms actually eat the waste, others say that what the worms are actually ingesting is the microorganisms that cause the food to decay. The modern research appears to support the latter theory and, for this reason, if the food is somewhat rotted when you add it to your worm bin, it will help the process along even better. Food that should not be fed to chickens or the dogs because it is aoffa or moldy, is a gourmet meal to your new friends. They will speedily turn it into gold for your garden.

Vermicompost is favored among gardeners as a superior natural-fertilizer because, unlike other natural fertilizers, such as horse and chicken drops, it is not ahota and the Vermicompost can be added directly to the soil around the plants, providing enrichment and a huge nutrient boost without risk of burning the plant and its roots . .

Unlike manure from other livestock, worm castings have been shown to contain lower levels of contaminants such as feed additives, antibiotics, and other drugs, building it ideal for chemical conscious and organic farmers.

Does Any Worm Work?

The two most common worms being implemented in vermiculture are red wigglers( Eisenia fetida) and European Nightcrawlers( Eisenia hortensis ). There are enthusiasts of both assortments, but it seems that the former is the most widely used so, for the purposes of this beginner setting up her first worm farm, thatas what I chose to use.

Where Do I Buy The Worms?

Worms can be bought online, and are probably one of the more unusual things you will ever receive through the mail. Prices vary, but read around for reviews and recommendations when buying worms sight unseen by the pound, as there are narratives of companies sending what essentially amounted to boxes of clay and trying to convince the customer that the worms were in there, but were just very, very small.

Because I live near the river, places selling bait worms are practically every fifty yards down the road. So I simply stopped at one of those and bought a bunch of red wigglers. A worm will feed half of their body weight each day in waste material, so consider the waste output of your household when deciding how big you want your worm farm to be.

” Views of the garden from the upstairs bedroom window 🙂 We told ourselves we were going to start out small this year and then this happened….and I wouldn’t change a thing. #happyhomesteading” || Wow, what a breakthrough! We’d be so inspired to work on our’ stead, too, with a opinion like this. Hope you’ll keep us updated on how this turns out! Thank you for the tag, and happy homesteading to you 🍃 || 📷: @bec_tilly

A post shared by Homesteading (@ homesteadingusa) on Jul 14, 2017 at 7:46 pm PDT

Feed Your Worms

So what will they feed? Basically, they will ingest all kitchen waste, and if it is moldy or somewhat rotted, so much the better. As I mentioned above, it is the micro-organisms that they eat , not the actual food, so speeding the process by offering them food with the micro-organisms already present is beneficial to them.

Vegetables, fruit, bread, pasta, eggshells, coffee grounds and tea suitcases, paper towels, shredded newspaper, junk mail, and napkins are great a and even restriction quantities of aged manure from poultry and rabbits.

Citrus should be avoided in sum, and do not add salty or greasy foods as these do not break down correctly. The key is to not add too much of any one thing at a time, or you could upset the pH balance of the farm.

They need a pH between 7 and 8, so if you are unsure, it might be a good notion to buy some litmus paper and exam it; if you find it is too acidic, add some baking soda or some crushed eggshells, too alkaline and you can add some 3/1 water/ vinegar mix. Eggshells are good for worms because they process their food in a gizzard, and the eggshells help them digest it properly, various kinds of like a chicken needs oyster shell and grit!

If you detect an unpleasant fragrance coming from your worm farm, or you have a cloud of fruit flies hovering, youave probably been overfeeding, and the worms cannot keep up, thus making the habitat too damp. Try adding some more dry bedding a shredded newspaper, cardboard or dry leaves a and hold off feeding for a few days until the worms catch up.

Make Your Vermicompost Container

The container that you choose for your worm farm should have a good quantity of surface area and be fairly shallow; a pail is not a good selection, but a Rubbermaid container or similar will work well. These can be found pretty cheaply at Walmart, but I had a dirty, old one hanging about in the shop, so I decided to use that. Youall also require a lid to go with it. The bathtub needs to be opaque, as worms are sensitive to light.

The first thing you need to do is drill some holes in the tub. I drilled a bunch of 1/8 a3 pits in the top and sides for aeration. Worms are aerobic, just like human being, and involve oxygen to survive. Without proper ventilation in your tub, the atmosphere in it will become toxic and the worms will eventually die. I then drilled some 1/4 a3 holes in the bottom of the tub for drainage. Be sure to drill the holes in the lowest part of the tub where the liquid created by the worms process will meet; youall see that most tubs have a agullya around the edges of the bottom, this is where the liquid will sit, so drill here. The liquid that comes out of the bottom is called leachate and can be gathered to use as liquid fertilizer for plants. The notion style to do this is to have a second Rubbermaid tub, slightly larger than the first, and you can stack the smaller bathtub inside the larger, with a couple of stones or small pieces of 2A4 inside the bottom bathtub to boost it up. Next, shred up some paper for bedding. I had a bunch of old cardboard boxes lying around waiting to be burned, so I deconstructed them, split the three layers of cardboard, and then shredded it approximately. Add a good thick first layer, and then gather some food. If you are putting your worms in right away, as I was, try to add some food that is already slightly rotten, so that the worms have something to eat from the get-go. I had a mushy cucumber that I had been meaning to fling to the chickens, so I set that in, along with some coffee grounds, and some bread. Then I added my worms. They came with a few casings in the tubs with them, so I dumped that in for good measure too. Then I added more bedding on top, sprayed it with water to damp it down and laid down a piece of flat cardboard on top to hold in moisture. Then I clipped on the lid and took the whole thing down into the cellar, where it was going to live. Because I live in the South, determining somewhere cool to set the bin was a challenge. Worms should not be exposed to temperatures below 50 F and above 85 F and they reportedly feed fastest at temperatures between 59 -7 7F. In the South, thatas a tall order, and we donat even have AC in the house, so I decided that the cellar was the best place for them during the summer.

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