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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.

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

• 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.

• 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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