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Vermicompost – a product or process of composting utilizing various species of worms – Part 1

• Vermicompost is the product or process of composting utilizing various species of worms.
• These worms are usually red wigglers, white worms, and earthworms.
• They are used to create a heterogeneous mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste, bedding materials, and vermicast.
• Vermicast, similarly known as worm castings, worm humus or worm manure, is the end-product.
• The endproduct is obtained by the breakdown of organic matter by a species of earthworm.
• These castings have been shown to contain reduced levels of contaminants and a higher saturation of nutrients.
• The nutrients are more than the organic materials before vermicomposting.
• Vermicompost contains water-soluble nutrients.
• Vermicompost is an excellent, nutrient-rich organic fertilizer and soil conditioner.
• This process of producing vermicompost is called vermicomposting.

Suitable species

The earthworm species (or composting worms) most often used are:
• Red Wigglers (Eisenia foetida or Eisenia andrei),
• Lumbricus rubellus (a.k.a. red earthworm or dilong (China))
• European nightcrawlers (Eisenia hortensis)
• Blueworms (Perionyx excavatus)

Species not recommended are:
• Lumbricus terrestris (a.k.a. nightcrawlers (US) or common earthworm (UK)) are not recommended.
• They burrow deeper than most compost bins can accommodate.
• P. excavatus worms are not suitable for worm compost bins.

Large-scale vermicomposting is practiced in:
• Canada
• Italy
• Japan
• Philippines
• United States

Uses of Vermicompost

The vermicompost may be used for:
• Farming
• Landscaping
• Create compost tea
• For sale

Methods for large-scale Vermiculture

There are two main methods of large-scale vermiculture.

First method is using a Windrow
• Some systems use a windrow.
• This consists of bedding materials for the earthworms to live in.
• It acts as a large bin.
• Organic material is added to it.
• The windrow has no physical barriers to prevent worms from escaping.
• Often windrows are used on a concrete surface.
• This is done to prevent predators from gaining access to the worm population.

The second type of large-scale vermicomposting system is the raised bed or flow-through system
• Here, the worms are fed an inch of “worm chow” across the top of the bed.
• Upon it, an inch of castings are harvested from below.
• This is done by pulling a breaker bar across the large mesh screen which forms the base of the bed.
• As red worms are surface dwellers, they constantly move towards the new food source.
• The flow-through system eliminates the need to separate worms from the castings before packaging.
• Flow-through systems are well suited to indoor facilities.

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