Horticulture/Vermicomposting

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Vermicomposting is the art, science, or practice of cultivating worms for their castings (excretions from an earthworm, the end product of vermicomposting). Most commonly done on a small scale by gardeners, vermicomposting is an easy way to convert kitchen scraps and other organic matter into a useful compost which can be used in the garden or even in potted plants. Vermicomposting can be done both indoors and outdoors, and is commonly practiced in both urban and rural areas. This chapter is a how-to manual to help aspiring vermicomposters get started.

Outline[edit]

Preface (about vermicomposting/why vermicompost)[edit]

Vermicomposting is a great way to turn your kitchen scraps into useful material for the garden.

Vermicomposting can be done either indoors or outdoors, and is a great way for urbanites to compost their kitchen scraps.

Vermicomposting is fun for children.

Vermicompost is a superior soil amendment.

Vermicomposting keeps "recyclable" materials out of the landfill.

Choosing the right strategy (indoor/outdoor, etc.)[edit]

There are several methods for making vermicompost, from small scale indoor bins to large windrow-based operations. When choosing which strategy to use, there are several things to take into account.

  1. First, you'll need to determine what space is available. Will it be indoors or outdoors?
  2. Second, you'll need to know how much materials will be on hand for fodder. For most people, this will depend on family size and diet (i.e., how much vegetable waste is produced per week), though larger operations such as farms and restaurants will need to make a more complicated calculation.
  3. For larger scale methods such as windrows, you'll need to make a realistic estimation about how it will be aerated (e.g., by pitchfork? by tractor? by windrow turner?)

Indoor Vermicomposting[edit]

Indoor setups
Non-Continuous Bins
(From the WP article:) Non-Continuous – A non-continuous bin is an undivided container. A layer of bedding materials is placed in the bin lining the bottom and worms are added and organic matter for composting is added in a layer above the bedding. Another layer is added on top of the organic matter and the worms will start to compost the organic matter and bedding. These type of bins are often used because they are small in size and easy to build. They are relatively difficult to harvest because all the materials and worms must be emptied out when harvesting.
Instructions for building this bin
Continuous Vertical-Flow Bins
(From the WP article:) Continuous Vertical Flow – Continuous flow bins are a series of trays stacked vertically. The bottom-most tray is filled first, in a similar fashion to any other bin, but is not harvested when it is full. Instead, a thick layer of bedding is added on top and the tray above is used for adding organic material. The idea is that the worms will finish composting the bottom tray and then migrate to the one above. When a sufficient number of worms have migrated the bottom tray can be collected and should be relatively free of worms. These bins provide an easier method of harvesting.
Instructions for building this bin
Continuous Horizontal Flow
(From the WP article:) Continuous Horizontal Flow – A continuous horizontal flow bin is another a bin that relies on the earthworms habits of migrating towards a food source in order to ease the process of harvesting. The bin is usually constructed to be similar to a non-continuous bin but twice as long (horizontally). The bin is divided in half, usually by a large gauge screen of chicken wire. Only one side is used initially. When that half becomes full, the other half is filled with bedding and organic matter. In time, the worms will migrate to the side with the food and the compost can be collected. These bins are larger than a non-continuous system but are still small enough to be used indoors, with the added bonus of being easier to harvest.
Instructions for building this bin

Outdoor Vermicomposting[edit]

Outdoor Setups
Wire Bins
Piles
Windrows

Large Scale Setups (commercial operations, and how they work)[edit]

Suitable materials for vermicomposting (what should or should not be added to your bin)[edit]

Worm Species (how to choose the right worms for your setup)[edit]

Worm Behavior (what are your worms trying to tell you?)[edit]

Harvesting[edit]

How to use your vermicompost[edit]