Red Worm Composting / Conserving Valuable Resources
Composting, often described as nature’s way of recycling, is the biological process of breaking up of organic waste such as food waste, manure, leaves, grass trimmings, paper, worms, and coffee grounds, etc., into an extremely useful humus-like substance by various micro-organisms including bacteria, fungi and actinomycetes in the presence of oxygen.
Actinomycetes are similar to fungus in the way they grow and spread, but its distinguishing elements are that the types of materials they are efficient at decomposing. The active nature in this microscopic bacteria and the sheer number present (about 10 million per 1 gram of soil), make them highly effective at breaking down materials like tree bark, newspaper, and other hard organic material.
Today, the use of composting to turn organic wastes into a valuable resource is expanding rapidly in many countries, as landfill space becomes scarce and expensive, and as people become more aware of the impact they have on the environment.
Red Worm Composting / Another Way to Recycle
Recycling the organic waste of a household into compost allows us to return badly needed organic matter to the soil. In this way, we participate in nature’s cycle, and cut down on garbage going into burgeoning landfills.
Worms are nature’s ultimate recyclers—taking garbage in and turning out black gold. Studies have shown that as food passes through the worm’s body, the worms have the amazing ability to eliminate pathogens and carcinogens in the soil. The great advantage of worm composting is that this can be done indoors and outdoors, thus allowing year round composting.
Red Worm Composting / Vermicomposting
Red worm composting or vermicomposting is the process of using red worms to decompose organic yard and food waste, turning the waste into a natural fertilizer called wormpoop or wormpoop castings. Two species of red earthworms have consistently been used for commercial composting or worm farming, due to their relatively high tolerance of environmental variations:
- Eisenia foetida, The Red Wiggler
- Lumbricus rebellus, The Red Worm
Worm fertilizer adds beneficial organisms, nutrients and minerals to the soil that sustain healthy plant life and vital plant growth. The advantages of red worm composting are mentioned below:
- Worms can reduce composting time from 240 days to 30 days.
- Healthy soil teems with microbes, and microbial activity in worm castings is 10-20 times higher than in the material they consume.
- The digestive process in worms makes the nutrients in their castings more readily available to plants.
- The mucus coating on castings provides for the “time release” of nutrients.
- Castings are rich in humus, which improves soil aggregation.
- Castings have 5 to 11 times more NPK than the surrounding soil.
Vermicompost (the combination of worm castings and composting organic material) is much richer in microbial activity than regular compost. In addition, the shredding and digestive process of worms creates minute particles that existing micro organisms in the soil can readily eat. As a result, vermicompost actually increases the activity of existing microorganisms in the soil.
Red Worm Composting / Easy Does It
Earthworms require adequate temperature, moisture and ventilation. Setting up a worm bin is easy. All you need is a box, moist newspaper strips, and worms. Bedding made of newspaper strips or leaves will hold moisture and contain air spaces essential to worms.
It provides a medium in which the worms can work and in which waste organic material can be buried. It should be light enough to allow air exchange and should not be packed down. Ideally, the bedding should have moisture content similar to a wrung-out sponge.
Red worms are very susceptible to acid in their worm bedding; hence pH should be between 6.5 and 7. Also, they prefer temperatures of 55 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit or 12-21 degrees Celsius.
Composting material should comprise raw fruit and vegetable scraps. In addition to fruit and vegetable waste, the worms will also digest small amounts of moistened paper, like tea bags and coffee filters.
To summarize, if you supply the right ingredients and care, your worms will thrive and make nutrient rich compost for you.
For more information on composting follow these links: