Why Worms Will Take Your Composting to the Next Level
Worm composting, also called vermicomposting, is a fun, easy way to create a totally natural, renewable source of fertilizer. Worm composting will make your flowers, trees, fruits and vegetables bloom with color and vigor.
If sustainability is part of your gardening goals, using vermicompost is a great way to help get there. Here at Goldenseed, vermicomposting and healing the soil is a way of life. And we have more than 16,000 lbs of red wiggler worms! But you don’t have to go that big to get started. Anyone can do it!
What Are the Benefits of Worm Composting?
It’s the most sustainable, earth-friendly way to nourish your garden.
It will save you money.
You don’t need any special knowledge or skills to do it successfully.
The fertilizer works on all types of plants.
Natural fertilizer won't burn your plants the way chemical fertilizers can.
You can build your own farm or get started with an easy kit.
What Is a Worm Farm?
A worm farm is a simple structure that contains a stacked row of narrow, ventilated drawers. You can make it out of plastic, wood or metal. You can also buy a pre-made kit.
To start a worm farm, line the drawers with bedding. This can be shredded newspaper, shredded cardboard or dry leaves. Add a few scraps to the bedding, add your worms and let them start working.
As they eat the food you've supplied, they break it down to produce a substance called vermicompost. It looks like dark, damp coffee grounds. You collect this material and use it as fertilizer.
You can also set up a spout that collects liquid fertilizer.
It’s Like Composting…But Better
If you already have a compost pile or bin, you know how important it is to add natural nourishment to your plants.
Commercial fertilizers strip your soil of important nutrients and leave it unbalanced. Their ingredients can be dangerous to beneficial animals that help your garden grow.
Worm composting gives you an abundant source of natural fertilizer that feeds and heals your garden.
How to Get Started with Vermicomposting
You can buy a worm composting kit that comes with everything you need to get started. You can also get plans for building one from gardening blogs or YouTube channels.
1. Set Up Your Farm
Set up your worm farm in an area of your yard that doesn’t get too cold. Some people keep their worm farms near the kitchen. That way, they can throw kitchen scraps directly into the farm.
2. Buy Your Red Wigglers
Stock your worm farm with the right type of worm.
Stick with red wigglers (eisenia fetida) for the best results. Read more below about the best worm type for a successful farm.
2. Feed Them
Red wigglers thrive on a diet of fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, fruit pits, newspaper, leaves, bread and cornstalks.
Don’t feed them meat, bones or dairy products.
3. Harvest the Tea and Compost
When your wigglers have finished working, harvest the fertilizer and feed it to your plants.
Some gardeners call worm tea "liquid gold" or "black gold" because it's powerful stuff. If you use it as a liquid plant food, dilute it with water first.
What Are the Best Worms for Worm Composting?
Before you go out and dig up earthworms from your garden, slow down. Regular earthworms are not the best choice for several reasons.
Earthworms like to live deep underground. They won't be happy in the crowded, confined space of a worm farm and will try to escape.
They aren't big eaters. Earthworms only eat a small amount of food each day. That means you'll be waiting a long time to get your fertilizer. Red wigglers, by contrast, can eat their weight in scraps.
They don't reproduce quickly. Because they breed slowly, earthworms take a long time to populate your farm.
Red Wigglers Are Best for Creating Compost
Red wigglers are the best choice if you want a steady supply of rich, nutritious vermicompost. Here's why.
They’re used to living in shallow soil. Unlike other breeds that need to live deep in the earth, red wigglers only need a few inches of dirt to be happy. This makes them ideal for the narrow shelves of a worm farm.
They’re low-maintenance. Red wigglers are healthy and strong. They can also tolerate more temperature extremes than other worm types.
They breed quickly. Red wigglers are the rabbits of the worm world, and you’ll soon have as many as you want. If you have too many, you can start a new farm or put the extra worms directly into your garden.
They won't try to escape. Give them bedding and scraps, and red wigglers are happy. In nature, they live in crowded colonies. They won’t try to escape from your farm the way other species might.
What Weather Conditions Are Best for Worm Composting?
To get the most out of your worm farm, keep it where the temperature ranges from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If you keep it in a garage or outdoor shed, make sure it's not exposed to drafts in the winter.
Worm Composting Is Part of a Sustainable, Earth-Friendly Garden
People are increasingly looking for ways to incorporate sustainability into their gardening plans. Composting bins, rain barrels and worm farms are old-fashioned elements that are making a comeback in today's gardens. You can create a thriving, healthy garden with these simple techniques. Get started today with your own farm full of red wigglers.