Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Vermicomposting

So, last spring I had YABI (yet another brilliant idea) that we should begin vermicomposting. I got the idea from a special on the DIY network that showed (among other things) the versatility of vermicomposting as a way to reduce solid wastes and produce organic compost for your garden.

I did a little research, and found that vermicompost (unlike, say, painting or rockwork) is actually as easy as they make it look on television. You simply create a bin and fill it with bedding and organic material, wet it, and leave the worms alone. You can add waste to it periodically, but not too much or you'll get undesirable pests in there.

So, how is this different from the compost pile? Well, it really isn't much different. My compost pile attracts lots of earthworms, anyway. But, vermicomposting produces a concentrated amount of earthworm castings to use as a top-dressing, or to start seedlings. I felt that we could make use of both regular compost (for the chicken coop debris, horse manure, grass clippings, old hay, etc...) and vermicompost (for paper and kitchen waste). Plus, the vermicompost looked cool. There's something to be said for looking cool, as my sons will tell you!

This brings us to last spring, where I ordered the worms, built the bin and then filled it with paper and bedding and kitchen debris. And I wet it down a bit, and then periodically threw kitchen waste in. And I otherwise ignored it. And then, I got busy and kind of forgot about the worms, for sometimes a couple of weeks. Once or twice a month I'd look in the bin, but it really didn't look like much was happening. The bin got infested with fruit flies, which made me even more reluctant to open it.

The princess asked me once or twice how the worms were doing, and I told her I was pretty sure they were dead. In fact, I was waiting for cooler weather to throw in the towel and add the vermicompost bin to the regular compost. I was afraid it would smell, and in the bin you really didn't notice a smell. So I waited.

This weekend, I went to do the deed (toss the worms) only to find that they had composted down the entire bin, and that they needed more food because they were climbing up the sides of the bin. So, I added more kitchen waste and more paper, and wet them again, and separated out some of the compost - which was lovely and dark and moist, by the way, and we're back in business! Hooray for worms!

If you want to build your own vermicompost system, here are some good sites:
http://journeytoforever.org/compost_worm.html
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/08/green-basics-vermicompost.php
http://lancaster.unl.edu/pest/resources/Vermicompost107.shtml

That's it for now and if you haven't already, remember to get out and VOTE today!!!

Terri

3 comments:

Lilli said...

Some places say worms can eat up to half their weight every day- but mine have never eaten that fast EVER! I find that if I give them a big pile of scraps it takes about a week for them to finish, more if it isn't chopped or pureed and less if it is. Either way, the vermicompost is worth it!

Terri said...

No, mine didn't eat that fast, but they absolutely are worth the effort, because it takes so little to keep them happy!

Terri

Lisa said...

finally catching up on posts. Ive always wanted to try this and haven't gotten around to it yet. Maybe this spring will be a good time and give it a whirl.Besides, then we could use the little buggers for fishing now and then !! lol