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Vermicompost – a product or process of composting utilizing various species of worms – Part 2

• 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.

Methods for Small-scale Vermiculture

Vermicomposting at home
• A large variety of bins are commercially available, or a variety of adapted containers may be used.
• They may be made of old plastic containers, wood, Styrofoam, or metal containers.
• The design of a small bin depends on where the storage of the bin and how they wish to feed the worms is done.
• Metal containers often conduct heat too readily, are prone to rusting.
• This may release heavy metals into the vermicompost.
• Some cedars, Yellow cedar, and Redwood contain resinous oils that may harm worms.
• Western Red Cedar has excellent longevity in composting conditions.
• Hemlock is another inexpensive and fairly rot-resistant wood species that may be used to build worm bins.
• Bins need holes or mesh for aeration.
• Some people add a spout or holes in the bottom for excess liquid to drain.
• Worm compost bins made from recycled or semi-recycled plastic are ideal.
• These require more drainage than wooden ones as they are non-absorbent.
• Wooden bins will eventually decay and need to be replaced.
• Small-scale vermicomposting is well-suited to turn kitchen waste into high-quality soil amendments.
• Worms can decompose organic matter without the additional human physical effort.

Climate and Temperature
• The most common worms used in composting systems feed most rapidly at temperatures of 15–25 °C (59-77 °F).
• They can survive at 10 °C (50 °F).
• Temperatures above 30 °C (86 °F) may harm them.
• This temperature range means that indoor vermicomposting with redworms is suitable in all but tropical climates.
• Perionyx excavatus are suitable for warmer climates.
• If a worm bin is kept outside, it should be placed in a sheltered position away from direct sunlight.
• It also needs to be insulated against frost in winter.
• It is necessary to monitor the temperatures of large-scale bin systems.
• Heating up the worm bins can decay and lead to killing the worms.

• There are few food wastes that vermicomposting cannot compost.
• Green waste should be added in moderation to avoid heating the bin.

Small-scale or home systems
Such systems usually use kitchen and garden waste.This includes:
• All fruits and vegetables (including citrus and other “high acid” foods)
• Vegetable and fruit peels and ends
• Coffee grounds and filters
• Tea bags (even those with high tannin levels)
• Grains such as bread, cracker and cereal (including moldy and stale)
• Eggshells (rinsed off)
• Leaves and grass clippings (not sprayed with pesticides[citation needed])

Large-scale or commercial
Such vermicomposting systems need reliable sources of large quantities of food. Systems use:
• Dairy cow or pig manure
• Sewage sludge
• Agricultural waste
• Food processing and grocery waste
• Cafeteria waste
• Grass clippings and wood chips

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