What is Vermiculture?
Vermiculture is the process of using red wiggler worms to decompose organic food waste, turning the waste into a nutrient-rich material capable of supplying necessary nutrients to help sustain plant growth. When done correctly, this method is simple, effective, and convenient. It saves water, energy, landfills, and helps rebuild the soil. The worms ability to convert organic waste into nutrient-rich material eliminates the need for synthetic fertilizers.
At our off-grid organic urban farm we have a process for caring for our worms and here is how it goes
We harvest produce every friday in order to bring to the farmers market fresh produce that is less than 24 hour from harvest. While harvesting we keep 3 containers; 1 tote & 2 buckets. The tote gets the produce of good quality to go to market or for our family to consume. One of the buckets we use to put produce with some leaves damage, we feed those leaves to our bunnies. The last bucket we use to collect decaying produce, grayish leaves, etc. which we use to feed the worms.
Process Food for the Worms
The bucket we collect all the produce for the worms gets moved to our balcony where we keep our worm colony.
Basically the food for the worms is produce that is very far down the decomposition process. We place the food in one half of the tote, this forces the worms to move to the side where the food is and makes it easier for us to get to the worm castings.
The worm bins are 18 gallon totes we bought at Home Depot, we drilled holes on the top 6 inches of the tote and on the lid. The holes helps increase airflow to the totes and having the holes up high helps with keeping the worms inside the totes at all times. The lid helps keep their home dark and helps keep moisture in.
Having the colony in the balcony also helps with keeping rain away from the totes, this is important in order to control the climate the worms live in.
Harvesting Worm Castings
Once we place the worm food in one half of the tote, we wait until they move to the side of the food. Once the worms have moved, we can now begin to dig thru the tote and start harvesting the worm castings made by them. We comb thru the soil carefully in order to put back in to the tote any worms left behind on the side where we are harvesting.
Applying to Soil
We can apply worm castings to our soil in two ways:
- Add the worm castings directly to the soil by the base of a plant or mix it with the top 3 inches of the soil are we are wanting to treat.
- The other way is to create compost tea by adding compost, worm castings, molasses sugar and oxigen to a container with water. The compost tea is then strained and poured on the desired areas including the foliage of the plants you wish to feed.
The process of harvesting our produce for consumption and to sell at the farmers market is the start of this cycle of feeding the entire homestead. No food scraps go to waste, there is purpose for it all.
At the end of the worm casting process we end up with an improved soil with more texture, structure and beneficial organisms which help break down organic materials and converts nutrients into a readily available food for the plants.
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