Worm Compost

State of California
From Vermicomposting: Composting with Worms

What is vermicompost?

Vermicompost, or castings, is worm manure. Worm castings are considered by many in horticulture to be the very best soil amendment available. There are several reasons for this. The nutrient content of castings is dependent on the material fed to the worms-and worms are commonly fed materials with high nutrient content, such as food waste and manures.

Worm castings provide these nutrients in a form readily available to plants. The biology of the worm’s gut facilitates the growth of fungus and bacteria that are beneficial to plant growth. In addition, many chemical compounds are found in castings that are thought to promote plant growth.

Much of the content of worm castings and their effect on plants is still being studied. Nonetheless, farmers and soils blenders know the benefits of worm castings from their actual affect on plants and product sales, even when the worms are fed low-nutrient materials such as paper fiber.
What kind of worms are used for vermicomposting?

Most worm farms raise two main types of earthworm: Eisenia foetida and Lumbricus rubellis. These worms are commonly used to produce vermicompost, as well as for fish bait. Both are referred to by a variety of common names, including red worms, red wigglers, tiger worms, brandling worms, and manure worms. These two species are often raised together and are difficult to tell apart, though they are not believed to interbreed. While several other species have been successfully bred in recent years, this fact sheet focuses primarily on the use of these species.

The night crawler (Lumbricus terrestrius) is also harvested and sold for fishing bait. This species does not breed well in captivity and is generally harvested from wild stock.

What other organisms live with worms?

Worms do not live in isolation. In addition to microscopic organisms like bacteria and some fungi, you may notice several other creatures, such as springtails, mites, pot worms (small white worms often mistaken as baby red worms), and an occasional fungus gnat. These organisms generally stay in the bin, live in harmony with the worms and cause little problems. Consistently burying the food in the bedding will minimize the attraction of unwanted species.

From Worm Composting

How You Do It

Buy or build a box with holes in the bottom. Fill the box with moistened bedding. Add the redworms. Pull aside some of the bedding, bury the food waste and cover it up with the bedding. Add one cup of soil or sand to provide grit for worms’ digestive process.

From Vermicompost

Vermicompost properties

Vermicompost, also known as worm castings and vermicast, is different from compost produced by other composting methods. It is richer in many nutrients[citation needed]. As the worms deposit their castings, their mucous is a beneficial component absent from compost produced by hot or cold composting. The mucous component slows the release of nutrients. Worm compost is usually too rich for use as a seed starter. It is useful as a top layer and an addition to potting mixes. Some seed pits are reported to germinate in vermicompost easily.

Vermicompost is beneficial for soil in three ways:

* It improves the physical structure of the soil.
* It improves the biological properties of the soil (enrichment of micro-organisms, addition of plant hormones such as auxins and gibberellic acid, and addition of enzymes, such as phosphates, cellulase, etc.).
* It attracts deep-burrowing earthworms already present in the soil.

Vermicompost can be used to make compost tea, by mixing some vermicompost in water and steeping for a number of hours or days. The resulting liquid is used as a fertilizer.

Vermicompost fed to poultry stimulates their immune system[2].

Worm Digest


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