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Vermicomposting

Put ½ pound of red wiggler worms in a clear plastic container with coffee grounds, fruit, veggie peels and just about any kitchen garbage. Watch. In five days, a melon disappears. In weeks, you’re about to receive the best fertilizer you’ve ever put in your garden. Worms, especially the red wiggler variety, do a great job of processing food and creating a special nutrient-rich soil, called worm castings (also called vermicast).
 

worm watcherOur local worm farmer helped us design the WormWatcher. Our bin has great aeration and drainage, so it is odorless. As long as food is buried with several inches of soil, fruit flies are rare. It is suggested to collect food and limit burying food once or twice a week to prevent uncovering of food. A melon disappears in days. Within weeks, earthworms convert the food scraps into fertilizer (worm "poop", worm castings or vermicastings.)

The capability of a composting bin depends on the amount of worms and the size of the bin. The guideline for vermicomposting is one pound of worms can process 3.5 pounds of garbage per week (consider buying Mary Appelhof’s book, Worms Eat My Garbage, a great reference in our store.) We have approximately 15 lbs. of castings in 3 months.

What to vermicompost? FOOD LIST

Worms like their food waste chopped as small as possible! They will eat fresh or decomposing food, but they eat the smallest pieces faster. Experiment -- the worms like a variety of food and they will make more babies when they are healthy and happy.

  • All vegetables (table and preparation scraps, peels, veggies & fruit)
  • Starches: pancakes, pasta, rice, pizza crusts, cereal, crackers, stale bread
  • Healthy snacks: coffee grounds and filters, crushed cooked egg shells, tea bags (w/o plastic or staples) dead flowers, plants (non-diseased) leaves, plant trimmings
  • FAVORITES FOR FAST PRODUCTION: Melons
  • GOOD FOR REPRODUCTION: Cooked egg shells (tip: crush them)
  • DEMONSTRATION TIP: Put a half of melon, squash, or pumpkin overnight and lift to see a worm ball.
  • PAPER LIST: Worms like their paper torn into small pieces. NO GLOSSY/COLORED PAPER
  • Shredded paper, magazines, cardboard, Kleenex, egg cartons, junk mail, napkins

FAVORITES FOR FAST PRODUCTION: Cardboard and newspaper

What we hear --
Some folks like to freeze fruit (especially bananas) prior to composting to kill any fruit fly eggs. If waste is buried deep in the WormWatcher, we don’t have any problems.

A few studies indicate that too much citrus, pineapple, and black walnuts may have properties harmful to worms. Broccoli and cabbage can smell, so bury them deep!

How to Harvest Our Products

WormWatcherYou can harvest any of the products (worms, "worm tea", or worm castings) after 90 days depending on your needs.

"Worm Tea" – DO NOT DRINK AND USE IMMEDIATELY (within 5 hours) – Pour out any old liquid in your bin if necessary.

  1. Pour water over castings and allow "worm tea" to drain into the liquid
    containment area.
  2. Dilute it at least by 50%. Recommend diluting liquid by 10X, for example, add 9 cups of water to one cup of tea to make 10 cups.

Why use "worm tea" instead of commercial fertilizers?

The chemicals tend to kill the normal bacteria and fungi in the soil. As a result, the soil pH and chemistry becomes imbalanced, making it harder for plants to grow. "worm tea", however, is great to use on diseased, weak, or stressed plants. Enjoy your free Miracle Grow!

"Worm tea" contains

  • High nitrogen in a form readily usable as a plant fertilizer
  • Natural chemicals that protect the plants from fungal diseases.

WORMS AND WORM CASTINGS - It’s simple. Do not feed the bin for a week. Add a very ripe melon to the top and leave overnight. The worms will gradually move towards the food and make a "ball". Use a similar method to harvest the worm castings.

  1. Move the content of the bin to one side.
  2. Put in fresh, moist bedding (recommend – machine-shredded newspaper since it is the smallest) and food in the other half of the bin. Worms will gradually migrate to side of bin with new food and bedding.

Harvest your vermicompost (worm castings or worm compost.) Don’t worry if you have a few stray worms left in the compost

How to Experiment – Hundreds of Ways

The clear sides enable easy observations and comparisons. By burying the same amount of trash in different corners, it is easy to compare what worms prefer to eat or not. Some even experiment with
junk food.

Aside from experiments comparing worm castings with other soils and commercial fertilizers, study the differences in soil composted from different foods (organic versus nonorganic, fruit and vegetables compared to junk food, etc.) With the WormWatcher, research the benefits of "wormtea." Of course, discover whether the Sun Chip bag really is compostable – as another angle for study.

 
worm watcher

HAVE FUN

There are many popular guidelines in composting (temperature range of worms, harmful foods, etc.), and many of these guidelines are not scientifically proven and are worthy of further exploration by curious learners. For example, our WormWatchers found that worms survived in colder and warmer temperatures than reported in literature. Test assumptions such as worms prefer darkness, redworms dislike nightcrawlers, and worms prefer junk food.

 
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