Wondering how to grow the perfect plants? It's time to introduce you to vermicomposting in your gardening routine. While worms may seem pesky and slimy, they can help you establish a healthy garden, growing plants that you can take pride in. Keep reading to learn more.

Vermicomposting is the fancy term for using worms or their castings as plant food or fertilizer. It's nature's way of creating miracles, with worms and bacteria, seemingly inconspicuous creatures, acting as little janitors. They play a crucial role in breaking down our waste, and the end product of this cleansing process is rich material that we can now use as compost. Surprisingly, it can help our plants grow healthily without the aid of fertilizers. 

Garden Season Tip:
Organic Gardener's Guide to Vermicomposting
This informative graphic makes it easier for people to understand something seemingly complex, like vermicomposting. Fortunately, you can do vermicomposting on your own and obtain rich compost from your composting partners, the worms, for your plants.

Common Types of Worms
While thousands of worm species are known, only a few are suitable for indoor vermicomposting. Worms that dig shallow holes in soil or compost are ideal for vermicomposting. On the other hand, deep-digging worms like Canadian nightcrawlers are not suitable.

Here are commonly used types of worms for vermicomposting:

1. Red Wrigglers or Lubricous rubellus (1 inch to 4 inches) – Common in composting circles. They can survive in cold winters and can pose a threat to ecosystems if released.
2. Red Wigglers or Eisenia foetida/Eisenia andrei (2 inches to 4 inches) – These species are nearly impossible to distinguish and usually coexist in the same habitat. They are shallow dwellers and excellent for composting.
3. Blue Worms or Perionyx excavatus (1 1/4" to 2 3/4") – Common composting worms in tropical climates.
4. African Nightcrawlers or Eudrilus eugeniae (6" to 8+") – Common composting worms in subtropical and tropical climates.
5. European Nightcrawlers or Eisenia hortensis (3 inches to 8 inches) – Commonly used for fishing bait, these worms are becoming popular in composting.

Choosing the Right Container
A good compost pile achieves a perfect balance between moisture and nutrients. Here are four common compost bin materials that can help you determine which material is convenient for you and allows you to achieve the perfect balance in composting.

Here are compost bin materials commonly used for vermicomposting:

1. Cardboard – Highly absorbent and easy to break down.
Tip: Monitor the condition of the compost bin closely to ensure proper humidity levels.

2. Plastic/Polystyrene – Non-absorbent and easy to clean. Most popular.
Tip: Add more drainage holes to prevent the soil from becoming too wet.

3. Wood – Good absorbency and drainage.
Tip: Choose cedar or western red cedar as a rot-resistant compost bin that won't leach harmful oils. (Avoid using yellow cedar and redwood.)

4. Metal – Non-absorbent, prone to rust, and may release heavy metals.
Tip: Increase more drainage holes to prevent the soil from becoming too wet.

Proper Worm Diet
The relationship between bacteria and worms in the compost mix is crucial to obtaining good worm castings. Bacteria feed on compost materials, and in turn, worms feed on bacteria. The end product of this process will be compost, which will work wonders in your garden plants.

Here are tips on what waste to use in your vermicomposting:

- Fruits
- Vegetables
- Coffee grounds and filters
- Tea bags

- Grass clippings (without pesticides)
- Garden trimmings (without pesticides)
- Rinsed eggshells

- Meat
- Bones
- Dairy
- Greasy paper

Harvesting and Using
Once you've successfully extracted rich dark compost, you can now prepare worms for a new batch and prepare the compost before applying. There are two ways to apply compost:

Direct Application:
- Remove worms (optional).
- Freeze the compost.
- Test and mix the compost.
- Use it in the garden or with potted plants.

Compost Tea:
- Making worm castings tea is like brewing tea with a tea bag. Here's how:
1. Collect compost with coarse cotton or a T-shirt.
2. Soak the bundle in a bucket of water overnight.
3. Filter the liquid and add it to a spray bottle.
4. Spray on plants and soil.

If you want vegetables that are fit for wallpaper and want them organic and healthy, vermicomposting will get the job done for you. You can garden organically and dispose of waste in an environmentally friendly way.
November 28, 2023

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