Vermicompost contains 5 times more nitrogen, 7 times more phosphorus, and 11 times more potassium than traditional compost and does wonders for your garden!
Vermiculture is the practice of raising worms for their castings. Worms can quickly turn rotting food that you would otherwise throw away, into nutrients that are great for your soil and garden.
Vermicompost is a favourite because it is a superior natural-fertilizer that can be added directly to the soil around plants. It provides a huge nutrient boost without the risk of hurting the plants or the roots. Unlike manure, worm castings contain lower levels of contaminants such as feed additives, antibiotics, and other medications making it ideal for organic farmers.
Vermicompost is dark material which contains a higher amount of nutrients than that found in regular compost. Vermicompost also breaks down faster than regular compost because of the worms’ constant activity. The worms can essentially do the turning of the compost for you by aerating the material and eliminating work that you would otherwise have to perform yourself.
The two most common worms used are red wigglers and European Nightcrawlers. You can buy the worms either locally or online; the prices vary so be sure to check reviews before your purchase. A worm will eat half its body weight in waste material each day, so it is important to consider the waste output of your household before deciding how many worms you need.
How they work:
Worms can break up thatch. Thatch is a rough, dense layer of matter such as dead grass or roots, that blocks the flower of water and nutrients. This is integral to keeping plant roots moist and avoiding flooding.
Worms eat nematodes which are parasites that feed on grass roots. If unchecked, these parasites can cause yellowing, wilting, and bare patches.
Worms eat other pests and reduce the number of harmful bacteria, fungi, and microbes, which in turn increases the number of beneficial microbes.
Worms fertilise the soil with their castings. Worm castings are normally even more nutrient-rich than the soil they initially consumed.
Feeding Your Worms:
Worms can consume almost all kitchen waste. If the waste is mouldy or slightly rotted, it is even better. You feed your worms anything from vegetables, fruit, bread, and pasta, to tea bags, paper towels, and even junk mail. You can even use small amounts of aged manure from rabbits and poultry.
In quantity, citrus should be avoided. Greasy or salty foods should also be avoided because they do not break down correctly. The key to good vermiculture is to not add too much of any one thing at a time so that you do not upset the pH balance of the farm.
Worms require a pH between 7 and 8, buy some litmus paper so that you can test the pH whenever you are unsure. If you find that it is too acidic, add baking soda or crushed eggshells. If it is too alkaline, you can make a 3/1 water/vinegar mix and add it.
If an unpleasant smell is detected and there is a cloud of fruit flies hovering, this probably means that you are overfeeding the worms and they cannot keep up.
Using worms to your advantage is always a great way to keep your garden healthy, while also getting the most out of your waste.