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Worm Composting and Organic Gardening

Worm Composting and Organic Gardening

Worm Composting and Organic Gardening 

Worm composting, also known as vermicomposting or vermiculture, refers to the use of worms to recycle organic material such as vegetable peelings and other food scraps into nutrient-rich compost. In addition to creating a good soil conditioner for your garden, worm composting saves space in the landfill, and thus it helps you conserve the environment. Whether you have a garden or live in an apartment, you could practice worm composting and organic gardening. And reap numerous benefits that you can practice both indoors and outdoors. This article outlines the basics of vermiculture, how it can help your organic gardening and its importance to the environment. So, let’s learn about worm composting.

 

The following are some advantages of worm composting:

  • It requires very little space
  • It doesn’t produce odors when done correctly 
  • It can be done both indoors and outdoors
  • It takes only a short time to process organic waste 
  • It helps save money that would have been used to buy fertilizers, pesticides, and soil conditioners 
  • It produces the best organic fertilizer known to man – Worm Castings 
  • It increases the population of earthworms, which can improve your garden’s soil 
  • It helps create a steady supply of big, fat worms that are ideal for fishing 
  • It needs very little maintenance – 10 minutes per week is enough 
  • You can turn it into a worm composting business

 

How to go about Worm Composting and Organic Gardening 

Worm composting is usually done in a bin, as it creates the perfect environment for worms to transform organic waste into fertilizer. It’s imperative that you set up and maintain proper living conditions for worms to ensure their survival. These conditions include the following:

  • Climate control
  • Adequate airflow
  • Enough moisture
  • Adequate food

The worms digest the food scraps, and then they release castings, which are rich in nitrogen and phosphorus. The castings are highly concentrated in nutrients, and so you can use them sparingly, a little goes a long way. 

 

Where to do Worm Composting and Organic Gardening 

You can practice worm composting both indoors and outdoors. Are you wondering how apartment dwellers can do worm composting? Well, they may not have a backyard, but they may own houseplants, which would benefit a lot from fertilizers. Fortunately, vermiculture doesn’t need a lot of space. In fact, a depth of eight inches and a surface area of one square foot is enough. 

Since you can do in your house, it means that you can practice worm composting all year round.

 

Dealing with Odor

In case you live in an apartment, you may have concerns with regard to odor. Luckily, when done correctly, vermicomposting does not produce odor. To prevent the production of bad smell, don’t overload the bin with food. Then, ensure that the container gets good ventilation and make sure the bin does not get too wet. 

 

The Cost of Vermiculture

Vermiculture is all about recycling, and as such, it’s very affordable. As a matter of fact, it’s possible to practice worm composting without spending a penny. However, it would be good to consider purchasing the worms, as this would eliminate the trouble of finding enough of them to process your organic waste. 

 

Where to Buy Worms

You can get your worms right here at RAWkin Worm Farm, just check out our products here.

When fed well and kept in suitable conditions, worms can double their population every two to three months. Therefore, it would good to consider starting out with few worms, around two pounds and expect their population to increase with time. 

 

Feeding Your Worms

Worms typically feed on most food scraps, including the following:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetable peelings
  • Coffee grounds
  • Pulverized egg shells
  • Grains 
  • Tea bags

Avoid tossing the following food wastes into the bin:

  • Meat scraps
  • Fish
  • Bones
  • Oily food
  • Dairy products

This is because they may produce a foul smell and attract rodents and flies. 

 

On the other hand, there are certain materials that you shouldn’t place in the bin, and they include the following:

  • Glass
  • Plastic
  • Aluminum foil
  • Metal
  • Paper with colored printing 
  • Colored ink
  • Rubber bands
  • Sponges

 

Consider feeding the worms once per week in little amounts. If you feed them excessively, they may not be able to process all the waste, which may result in the creation of odor.

Note, worm compost doesn’t smell. The bad smell comes from decaying food that the worms are yet to eat. If you give them just enough for them to process, they will eat it before it starts rotting, and thus there will be no smell. You could also chop up the food scraps to make it easier for the worms to eat. 

 

Harvesting the Compost

As the worms process your organic waste, they reduce the contents of the bin, until all that is left is brown, earthy-looking worm compost. When your bin reaches this point, it’s now time to harvest the compost and grant your worm’s new bedding. You can do the harvesting anywhere between every two months and every six months. This depends on the number of worms you have and the amount of food you give them. 

To do the harvesting, dump the worm castings onto a big plastic sheet and separate the worms from the castings; remember to wear gloves when doing the separation. Once you’ve removed all the casts, consider keeping aside some of it and mix it with the new bedding of the next cycle. 

 

Final Word

Whether you live in an apartment decorated with potted plants or you own a backyard garden, worm composting and organic gardening will prove to be very useful. Utilize the compost to enrich your soil and ensure your plants are healthy. Did you know that worm compost also makes excellent mulch? 

Worm composting and organic gardening is hassle-free, and it not only improves your plants but also helps you conserve the environment. 

Are you considering starting some worm composting and organic gardening? Feel free to let us know. Your feedback is always appreciated. 

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How Much Can I Feed My Composting Worms?

How Much Can I Feed My Composting Worms?

How Much Can I Feed My Composting Worms?

How much can I feed my composting worms?  Feeding composting worms is really simple.  Unfortunately, there is so much confusing information online about how much composting worms can eat.  One of the first things I remember reading was that they can eat their weight in food scraps each day.  Then I saw on another website that they can eat half their weight each day in food scraps.  So what is the real truth?  The quantity composting worms can eat varies greatly and is affected by several factors, food type, environmental conditions, and bin conditions.

Food Type

Some foods contain a lot of water like melons and worms can eat their weight each day if not more.  Some foods take longer to break down and start to rot, and it takes worms much longer to process these foods.  Worms also eat their bedding which is usually not going to break down as fast as some foods but will be processed faster than others.

Environmental Conditions

Worms have an ideal temperature range at which they eat and reproduce quicker.  If the temperature is below or above that ideal range the rate at which they process food and bedding decreases.  If we want them to process food quickly we will have to maintain that optimal temperature range.  The Red Wiggler and European Nightcrawler’s optimal range is approximately 60-80 degrees F.  The tropical composting worms such as the African Nightcrawler’s optimal temperature range is 70-85 degrees F.

Bin Conditions

There are several factors in the worm bin that can have a significant effect on how much I can feed my composting worms.  If the aeration is very good as with a CFT (Continuous Flow Through) bin, which may be the most efficient of all for vermicompost production then processing the food waste will be very fast.  Stacking systems can also work very good if they have good ventilation holes.  Plastic bins with the lids on and holes drilled for air are usually the worst for air flow but can be improved quite a bit if the lids are left off and they are not allowed to get too deep.

Maintaining the correct moisture content is also crucial.  Too much moisture decreases aeration of the worm habitat.  Too little moisture decreases the worm’s ability to breath since they breathe through their skin.

An acidic worm bin also negatively affects the worm’s ability to process food as quickly.  There are some foods that are much more acidic or have high ammonia content that can create severe problems and can even kill the worms.  But this is usually a consequence more than a problem.  When we feed the worms more food than they can process under the given conditions it will cause the worm bin to become acidic.

The Easy Solution

First, make sure they have plenty of good bedding.  Then, in the beginning only feed them about 1/4 of their body weight in food scraps.  In a few days check and see if it is gone.  If it is, feed them a little more, if not feed them less.  Whether you feed them every few days or only once a week, base the amount you feed them on how fast they have been eating up to that point.  If you increase the amount incrementally you will never feed too much and you will find the optimal amount based on the conditions you are providing.

As you can see it really is simple.  With a little knowledge, common sense, and some patience you will have answered for yourself “How much can I feed my composting worms?” If you are looking at getting some composting worms and being more responsible with your food waste we have the composting systems and worms to help you get started, just check out our products here.

 

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Worm Composting Basics – Composting with Redworms

Worm Composting Basics

Worm Composting Basics

Worm Composting with redworms is great for apartment dwellers who don’t have yard space, or for those who don’t want to hike to a backyard compost bin with their food scraps. Some kids like to keep worms for pets! By letting worms eat your food wastes, you’ll end up with one of the best soil amendments available—worm castings. This short article will teach you the worm composting basics.  This is the cheapest and easiest to manage worm bin system that I’ve seen:

http://whatcom.wsu.edu/ag/compost/easywormbin.htm

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Worm Bin Bedding: How Important is it? Really?

Worm Bin Bedding

Worm Bin Bedding, No Better Place to Lay

I have read many times “you cannot have too much Worm Bin Bedding.”  But until I started studying it I don’t think I ever realized just how awesome it really is.  Bedding, if it is the correct or best kind, provides so many benefits to the worm bin system.  It can increase oxygenation, freedom of movement, manageability, and overall efficiency.  It, also, can decrease some of the problems that pop up which are mentioned below and helps to eliminate offensive odors.  

Oxygenation and Moisture

The best worm bin bedding is coarse enough that it provides lots of little air pockets.  This provides a much more oxygenated system.  Worms need oxygen just like we do.  They can survive on a small amount but thrive when more is present.  Worms breathe through their skin, which requires moisture.  So to take advantage of this increased oxygenation it must also be a material that absorbs moisture well.   Good bedding helps provide the needed moisture but also helps prevent excess moisture.

Freedom of Movement

The coarse nature of the bedding also provides great freedom of movement for the worms.  I admit that I am not really sure how great of an advantage that is.  Some minor advantages, I suppose, would be being able to get to the food sources they have easier.  Also, to more easily get away from problem area’s, such as areas heating up, or too acidic.  Potentially, ease of movement could promote more reproduction since the worms will possibly encounter each other more often.

Manageability of the System

When you have plenty of good bedding the system becomes much easier to manage.  Plenty of good bedding functions as a balancing mechanism.  If you feed too much or too little bedding helps compensate for both.  Bedding acts as a food source if the worms are fed too little. And it gives the worms a safe zone to go to if you feed too much and cause an area to become sour.  Because worm bin bedding is a carbon source, it absorbs unpleasant odors that may develop.

Optimization

The worm composting system is basically optimized by adding plenty of good bedding.  By accomplishing all the things mentioned already, increased aeration, increased movement, good moisture absorption, and buffering of the ph the worm composting system becomes very efficient.  It creates an environment that the worms thrive in.  The result is faster processing of the waste products as well as the bedding.  Reproduction rate of the worms will increase.  The worms will grow faster, possibly even bigger as long as they are not too crowded. Good bedding also provides extra carbon which makes for a more aesthetic casting because it’s less “muddy” and more like pellets. And all this makes worm composting easier and more fun.

Some of those great beddings are Peat Moss, shredded paper, aged manure, regular compost, and my two favorites, cut up cardboard and shredded leaves.  Cut up cardboard is one of the best and some say that it increases reproduction.  Leaves are great nutrient rich bedding but not as good at absorbing moisture.  The best bedding of all is really a mix of several.

Here at RAWkin Worm Farm, we desire to help you see how awesome worm composting is.  We have everything you need to get started.  Take a look at our products today.