The number of people interested in vermicomposting or worm composting is steadily increasing as interest continues to grow in all types of composting. Vermicomposting or using worms as your indoor or outdoor composting system, requires little effort as long as the bin is set up correctly.
What is vermicompost?
Vermicompost is the end result of the composting process when worms eat kitchen scraps and reward you a mix of worm casings, decomposing vegetable matter and bedding materials. The end result of these diverse elements is extremely rich and valuable compost.
The convenience factor is high as once the bin is set up correctly the maintenance is minimal.
To buy or not to buy?
You can either make your own worm bin or purchase one that is specifically made for the purpose.
For ease with maintenance and general day to day use I would definitely recommend a purpose built bin. They are easy to look after and children are quite capable of helping with day to day maintenance. However, making your own bin would certainly be a good introduction to vermicomposting.
The bins don’t smell and can be a great way to raise funds for a school or club by selling the liquid fertilizer. I have seen a row of worm factories outside a classroom, in a carpeted area, monitored by 12 year olds with great success and no smell or mess.
Selling the liquid fertilizer was easy, as who wouldn’t want a cheap organic fertilizer for the garden. In fact it was hard to keep up with demand. The children from the class brought in kitchen scraps from home and they raised money for the school, all while learning about composting and running a small business. I should add that most of the children lived close to the school and could quite easily walk to school so it was an ideal situation for such a project.
Having said that vermicomposting is suitable for children, the converse is also true, it is suitable for elderly people who enjoy gardening and no longer want to or are maybe unable to maintain a compost pile.
The liquid fertilizer is easy to obtain as the bin has a spigot at the bottom for collecting the juice. The juice is dilutes with water in a 1:10 ratio approximately. There are no hard and fast rules about this.
Vermicomposting can be carried out by anyone by following a few simple tips
- Worms like plant based materials such as fruit and vegetable matter, coffee grounds, tea leaves and tea bags and finely crushed egg shells
- Avoid acidic fruit and vegetables such as oranges and use onions sparingly
- Don’t use meat or dairy products in the worm farm
- Worms don’t have teeth so make sure the food matter is reasonably small
- Make sure the farm is kept moist. In hot climates it may sometimes be necessary to mist with water. Don’t let the farm become soggy
- To avoid attracting fruit flies cover the food scraps with bedding material, a piece of old carpet or some hessian.
- Bedding materials is often a mixture of shredded newspaper and peat or straw. If your worm bin is outside you can also use lawn clippings in limited amounts. Don’t add too much or it will be too hot for the worms
- Cold climates are fine for worm farms providing the worms are kept fed
- If your worm farm is outside and ants are a problem, stand the legs in small pots of water
- Make sure the lid is always on to avoid flies deciding the worm farm is a good place to live.
The worms used in worm composting or vermicomposting are called Red Wrigglers/Wigglers .