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Vermicompost – a product or process of composting utilizing various species of worms – Part 4




• 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.

Benefits of Vermicompost as Fertilizer

• Mid-scale worm bin (1 m X 2.5 m up to 1 m deep), freshly refilled with bedding.
• Vermicompost can be mixed directly into the soil.
• It can be seeped in water and made into a worm tea by mixing some vermicompost in water.
• This bubbles in oxygen with a small air pump, and steeping for a number of hours or days.
• The microbial activity of the compost is greater if it is aerated during this period.
• The resulting liquid is used as a fertilizer or sprayed on the plants.
• The dark brown waste liquid, or leachate, drains into the bottom of some vermicomposting systems.
• This is due to breaking down of water-rich foods.
• It is best applied back to the bin when added moisture is needed.
• This is done for removing the possibility of phytotoxin content and organic acids that may be toxic to plants.
• The pH, nutrient, and microbial content of these fertilizers varies upon the inputs fed to worms.
• Pulverized limestone or calcium carbonate can be added to the system to raise the pH.

Troubleshooting
• Worms and fruit fly pupas under the lid of a home worm bin.

Smells
• When closed, a well-maintained bin is odorless.
• When opened, it should have little smell.
• Worms require gaseous oxygen.
• Oxygen can be provided by airholes in the bin.
• Also occasional stirring of bin contents and removal of some bin contents if they become too deep or too wet is recommended.
• If decomposition becomes anaerobic from excess feedstock added to the bin, then in wet conditions, or layers of food waste becoming too deep, the bin will begin to smell like ammonia.

Moisture
• If decomposition has become anaerobic then to restore healthy conditions and prevent the worms from dying, the smelly, excess waste water must be removed.
• The bin should be returned to a normal moisture level.
• To do this, first reduce addition of food scraps with a high moisture content.
• Second, add fresh, dry bedding such as shredded newspaper to your bin, mixing it in well.

Pest species
• Pests such as rodents and flies are attracted by certain materials and odors.
• This usually is from large amounts of kitchen waste, particularly meat.
• Eliminating the use of meat or dairy product in a worm bin decreases the possibility of pests.
• This problem can be avoided by thoroughly covering the waste by at least 2 inches of bedding.
• Maintaining the correct pH (close to neutral) and water content of the bin can help avoid these pests as well.





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