Organic Food and Beverages
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Red Worm Composting
The Best Organic Fertilizer Comes From Worm Composters
Red worm composting helps build a rich compost fertilizer. Use worm composters or a worm compost bin to produce good compost material. Your organic vegetable garden will thrive with organic compost.
Red worm composting is a fantastic solution for people who want a rich compost supply for small gardens and window boxes. It doesn't take up a lot of space, and your worm compost bin can readily be located nearly anywhere that's convenient.
Worm Compost Bin: What Type of Container do you Need?
Step one in red worms composting is getting the right type of bin. If you want, there are complete worm systems that come with everything you need to get started (including the worms!).
Otherwise get a solid plastic tub with a lid - you need one that's going to keep light out and that isn't too deep.
A rectangular container for the worms compost is far better than a pail-shaped container. Something the size of the average recycling bin you get from your local municipality is ideal.
Once youve found something suitable, put some holes all around the lid line and in the top. Air is important not only for the worms, but for good composting. Additionally many people who compost with red worms recommend putting holes in the bottom of the bin and then keeping it on a tray so that theres drainage.
Preparing a Home for the Worms
Besides having the various items suited for composting gathered, red worm composting requires suitable bedding for the worms.
You can use shredded newspaper, straw, and dried leaves mixed with your compost waste. Let this blend sit in the compost container for 7-10 days before adding the worms. This creates natural moisture and a healthy environment for the worms.
There are some things highly suited to composting, and others that you should never use. For example, pet waste and human waste cannot go into compost bins. Additionally left-over cooking oil, meat scraps and milk products should also be avoided.
Countering this, hair collected from your brush, fruit bits, vegetable ends, cardboard scraps, old bread, left over rice or potatoes, coffee and tea grounds, and egg shells are all very acceptable.
Worm Composters: What Kind of Worms do I need?
You might think that you can just go gather some earthworms from your lawn and get started, but you actually need a specific type of worm (epigeic, to be exact). This kind of worm doesnt need a ton of space and it likes organic waste.
The correct worms can be found online with many suppliers, and youll only need about a pound to get started (which is a pretty good thing for worms as theyre expensive: as much as $40 per pound!). That first group of worms will begin reproducing soon enough if youve given them a good bed and mix.
Worms Compost and Worm Health
Note that for your worms to produce quickly and continue their tasks effectively, you want to keep your worm compost bin where the temperature remains above 55 degrees but below eighty. The bin needs to remain moist too (akin to a wrung out sponge).
Generally most people are adding waste to the bin daily so actually 'feeding' never has to happen. However, if youre going to be gone more than three weeks, you'll want to have someone give your worms a good dose of organic material so the bed doesn't die.
After about five months, the bedding you originally provided for the worms will be dramatically reduced. If left too long, this can harm your worms.
To fix this situation, move the current bedding out of the way and add some fresh nearby. After several hours the worms will move of their own accord to the fresh bed where its healthier for them.
Worm Composters - Summary
Red worm composting is a very simple way to get rich compost in a very small space. An investment of about $40 gets you started and will keep you in worms for a long time if you maintain the compost bin and bedding properly.
Remember to watch what you give the worms - some things are not suitable for composting. Other than that, youll find that red worm composting is a very low-maintenance 'hobby' that will enrich your gardens for years to come.
Natural Soil Aeration
Soil with a good population of worms in it is a healthy soil. If your existing soil has plenty of worms then you just need to keep them happy while your vegetables grow.
Worms in your soil keep it aerated and maintain a functioning drainage system. Worms are, in effect, tilling your soil.
Worms do not destroy the soil structure or pollute the environment with petrol fumes and residues (as heavy machinery do).
By creating space with their burrowing, worms allow air to circulate, water to drain, and roots to grow.
More on Worms: What do Worms Eat?
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