Worm Composting

Introduction

Vermicomposting or worm composting is the easiest way to recycle food wastes and is ideal for people who do not have an outdoor compost pile. Composting with worms avoids the needless disposal of vegetive food wastes and lets you enjoy the benefits of a high quality compost. It is done with special composting worms and can be kept indoors at home, school, or the office. As with outdoor composting, it is best to avoid putting bones, meats, fish, or oily fats in the worm box as they emit odours and may attract mice and rats. When cared for properly, worms process food quickly and transform food wastes into nutrient rich "castings". Worm castings are excellent fertiliser additive for gardens or potted plants.

Habitat

The composting worms are placed in a box or bin which can be built or purchased, along with "bedding" of shredded cardboard and/or paper or cocopeat, moistened to about 75% water content. The container should be wide enough so that food scraps can be buried in a different location each time. The dimensions of the container and the amount of worms required initially will depend on how much organic food waste will need to be composted each week.

Types of Worms

There are many different types of worms living in our soil. However only very few are well suited to composting. We supply specially bred composting worms: Eisenia Foetida or Red worms and Periovyx Excavatus or Indian Blues worms.

Having a mixture of the two different species gives the group a wider range of suitable conditions than one species alone. These species eat fast and breed fast. They will double their populations in three to four months under the right conditions.

Breeding

If the conditions are correct, worms will reproduce quickly. They will reach adulthood in about 6 weeks and can reproduce up to 3 times a week for their lifespan, which is generally around 2-3 years. Each time they reproduce, they will deposit a cocoon which can contain anything up to 40 baby worms, although this number is usually around 4. The worms population will be controlled by the size of their environment so you will never end up with too many worms.

pH

The pH of the bedding is a very important factor in the smooth running of your womery. If it becomes either too acidic or too alkaline this will upset and possibly kill the worms.

As a preventive measure, sprinkle 1 teaspoon of dolomite lime onto the food or bedding once a week.

Temperature

Redworms can tolerate a temperature range of around 10 degrees C to 28 degrees C, although they will be most active at about 25 degrees C. Consideration should therefore be given to the positioning of your worm farm. If you decide to keep it outside, find a spot where it will not be in full sunlight. Obviously the other option is to keep it indoors all the time, in which case you would not have to worry about the temperature.

Light

Worms are sensitive to light and when they become exposed to it, they will burrow into their bedding. This is useful when you want to harvest your worms. You should therefore have a damp cover (a piece of gunny sack or old carpet) over the worms to keep them dark and moist.

Moisture

Worms need a moist environment in order to breathe. Therefore the bedding should be suitably dampened but not wet (like a wet sponge with the water squeezed out-damp but NOT-dripping)