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Vermicomposting Systems - Fast Composting On A Shoestring Budget

Mar 25, 2008
One of natures most underrated workers are the eisenia fetida or red wiggler worms. Commonly found in organically rich soils that they help to create throughout the world including North America and some parts of Europe, these special creatures do an absolutely amazing thing: they can take vegetation that is currently rotting and process it in a way that creates compost as the natural end product of what they do with this organic matter. Contrasting this to the regular composting process, red worms have become a staple product for organic gardening enthusiasts not only by the worms used to create their own compost, but also in the way of helping decrease waste in our landfills and at the same time creating fresh organic compost. Here is a very easy vermicomposting system that anyone can do in order to create their own worm compost machine.

Organic gardening is slowly becoming one of the most popular hobbies of not only environmental enthusiasts but people that happen upon this natural way to improve their health. Organic food is known for its ability to retain more nutrients per gram of dryweight of almost every vegetable or fruit grown in this manner. One of the key ingredients is making sure that proper amounts of rich compost are added to the soil in order to ensure that the final product is in rich with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that will help a persons general health through regular eating of organic foods.

Vermicompost or worm compost is an ideal additive for any garden because of not only the nutrient value, but the system that is so easy to set up which almost anyone can use to create their own natural fertilizer. Depending upon the size of your garden and your needs, you can take a simple container in the shape of a box or a large garbage can and begin this composting process.

The first thing to consider with your vermicomposting bin is that you need to have proper aeration and drainage. Remember that your container will have a living population of red worms so it is important to consider their needs. You will want to provide fresh air and also a way for water to flow out so that it does not become stagnant. You are, in essence, creating a community of workers that will create a product for you and all they ask is that you feed them organic waste from your table on a regular basis along with keeping proper moisture and ph levels.

There are several types of vermicomposting systems that you can try out. Some have a continuous vertical flow of air and water. These are stacked on top of each other in the format of trays that our filled from the bottom up. The top tray is where you will put the organic matter that the red wigglers will eat and process. The subsequent trays will be used to catch various things such as compost, worm castings, and worm cocoons. It is also okay to build your trays horizontally but this of course takes more room. Depending upon the size of your operation, and how much space you have, you could literally create a business of creating compost from worms given enough organic waste and room in which to grow.

Thinking again from the worms perspective, you want to create an environment that is similar to the natural environment that the worms are used to in a natural setting. Imagine walking through the forest and considering the temperature underneath the trees and the layers of leaves which will soon be decomposing on the forest floor. Likewise, you want to have a similar soil makeup in your bedding as well as an equivalent temperature so that the worms feel as if they are in a natural setting and will begin to process your organic waste.

Therefore, the bedding should be moist. The bedding materials that you can use that will mimic a natural setting would include peat moss, dried manure, or even newspaper from your local store. The bedding should also allow aeration so that the decomposition process, as well as the worms ability to access air, is available. The temperature should be about where humans feel comfortable or a round 60 to 70 degrees. Lastly, there needs to be a ratio between carbon and nitrogen in the bedding mix so that not only the worms, but the other organisms that will be living with and helping the worms decompose the organic material, can feel comfortable. This ratio is about thirty to one with the majority of the bedding content being carbon based and the rest being nitrogen based.

Once you have thrown all of this together which should not take longer than a few hours of your time, especially if you have access to soil and a source for worms, you should begin adding organic material to your vermiculture system and let the process begin.

A last thing to consider is the maintenance of the worms and their habitat. The most important thing to ensure the health of your population of worms is to make sure that it is aerated properly. There needs to be enough oxygen to allow their habitat to be aerobic and not anaerobic. The difference is aerobic allows for the decomposition process to occur via the worms. Anaerobic is just the opposite and that is similar to what you would smell if you left your organic material on your counter for several days or smelled meat rotting. This is more of a stagnant process whereas the worms perform a natural processing of the waste.

The entire project should cost you no more than forty dollars to get access to worms and a container, and a few hours of your time for setup and maintenance. In doing so, you will create a small vermicomposting system that will produce for you not only the freshest compost that you will ever smell but also a rich compost that will add flavor and nutrients to your organic garden products in a way that you have never seen, or tasted, before.
About the Author
Chris Dailey is the owner of Super Organic Gardening Secrets, a free online service that provides valuable information on organic gardening and vermicomposting. To download his 7 free organic gardening reports, go
to http://www.superorganicgardeningsecrets.com
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