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Let Worms Eat Your Garbage, and Improve Your Soil!!

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Presentation on theme: "Let Worms Eat Your Garbage, and Improve Your Soil!!"— Presentation transcript:

1 Let Worms Eat Your Garbage, and Improve Your Soil!!
Rhianna Simes Master Recycler Coordinator

2 During 2007 Oregonians sent an estimated
3 million tons of waste to landfills 6 pounds of garbage everyday! This is 2,200 pounds of waste a year For every Oregonian!! Visualize a line of garbage trucks, end to end, from Portland to New Orleans.

3 Organic waste 8% +18% + 34% = 60% could be composted
(1,320 pounds a year could be composted)

4 16+8+5+4+15= 48% compostable 10+6+3+2+7= 28% recycled
48+28= 76% diverted

5 Keep organic waste out of the landfill

6 Composting is the aerobic decomposition of biodegradable organic matter.
Composting is the process of encouraging the decomposition of organic matter by providing air, moisture, material, and a hospitable environment for decomposers and worms

7 Materials Nitrogen rich Carbon rich Green materials 1/3 of pile
Grass clippings Food scraps Immature plants Rot easily & smells bad 1/3 of pile Carbon rich Brown materials Dry leaves Stalks, & husks Mature plants Full of fiber & dries 2/3 of pile

8 Layering Begin with larger diameter pieces
1 layer ‘green’, then thicker layer ‘brown’ 1 green + 2 browns (repeat) Repeat until at least 3’x3’x3’ End with ‘brown’ layer to reduce pests Last minute additions, sneak into middle

9 Common Composting issues
*Problem *Cause *Solution Bad smell Too much nitrogen Anaerobic Add carbon Turn pile Not cooking down Too dry Turn the pile Check moisture Add more Nitrogen Weedy Not hot enough style compost Don’t include weed seeds or roots in pile Rodents / pests in the pile Food scraps in pile Put kitchen waste in worm bin

10 The Chinese character for worm translates to ‘Earth Angel’
“Feliz como un lumbris” Earthworms are also called ‘nature’s plough’ “It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world as these lowly organized creatures” (Charles Darwin 1881) Earth worms are amazingly strong, and can easily shift stones 60 times there own weight.

11 Vermicomposting Vermi-culture- is the artificial rearing or cultivation of earthworms Worm bin- is any container that holds earthworms, their bedding and food (used in vermicomposting) Vermicompost- is the excreta of earthworm, which is rich in nutrients, necessary for healthy plant growth (aka castings)

12 4400 named species of earthworms on this planet
Broken into three categories, largely descriptive of their habits in the soil, endogeic, anecic and epigeic.

13 Worm species and categories
Endogeic- Lateral burrows Rarely surface Eat soil Medium sized Epigeic- Live in top soil Prefer loose organic litter Feed on surface debris Do well in dense populations Ex: Eisenia fetida Anecic- (night crawlers, Lumbricus terrestris) Permanent lateral burrows 6ft+ (personalized) Build midden mounds near burrow entrance Have little retractable hairs (setae) Very large with less pigmentation

14 Worm species for vermicomposting
Two species of red earthworms are used for commercial composting or worm farming, due to their relatively high tolerance of environmental variations: a) Eisenia foetida The Red Wiggler > b) Lumbricus rebellus The Red Worm

15 Anatomy of the Earthworm
Interesting Worm facts: -Both male & female organs -Have 5 hearts -Breathe through their skin -Baby worms are hatched from a worm egg called a cocoon -Use their pharynx to make their food small enough to eat


17 Adults will be banded Worm eggs are called cocoons
Under perfect conditions a mature breeder will produce an egg capsule every 7 to 10 days, each containing over 1 dozen hatchlings. Development takes days and, once hatched, worms reach maturity in approximately four to six weeks.

18 a lot like building a compost pile
Building a worm bin is a lot like building a compost pile You need similar ingredients: A container with air holes Kitchen Scraps or yard debris -Fruit peels, veggie scraps, old flowers, grains, or cereal ‘Bedding’ or dry, organic material -Newspaper, coco fiber, straw, or leaves A bit of native soil A protected place to keep them

19 Worm bins Don’t have to be fancy or expensive
Any container with air holes will work Avoid temperature extremes & predators Examples of common bin styles:

20 What do I feed my worms? Fresh or decaying organic material
– anything found in natural world (with exceptions) The smaller the pieces the better Examples: fruits, old food, leaves, veggies, grains, pasta, grass, & other plant matter Avoid: -Overloading your bin with citrus or fruits with a lot of seeds Seeds will often re-sprout

21 Worms do not want to eat Dairy Products like Cheese and milk
Synthetic fibers or plastic Sugary foods like cake and cookies Animal meat Manure from carnivorous animals ( like dogs, & cats)

22 What ‘bedding’ should I use?
Shredded newspaper Old documents (no colored inks) Dry leaves Coco fiber Straw Avoid magazine or glossy pages, lots of colored inks, & synthetic fibers

23 Layering your worm bin Start with bedding
Then add organic material / veggie scraps Add your worms and a little native soil Then more bedding Repeat layers Note: Always end with bedding to prevent flies and bad smells

24 Other creatures in the worm bin
Spring tails (look like little grey mites) Pot worms (tiny, transparent worms) Soldier Fly larva (segmented, tan) Avoid letting flies, gnats, earwigs, centipedes, or beetles in your worm bin

25 Precautions Protect against temperature extremes
Maintain damp moisture level Spray water in the bin when materials are too dry. Do not drown your worms, They like it moist, not soggy (think: damp sponge) Protect the worms from predators Ants, rats, raccoons, skunks, and birds

26 Harvesting worm castings
Worms go towards food and away from the light

27 Utilizing your Worm Castings
Use an old spoon or cup to scoop out castings Put in your watering can = tea Top dress potted plants Add to vegetable garden Create tea bag and soak in water Amend old potting soil

28 Advantages of Vermicomposting
Vermicompost is an eco-friendly natural fertilizer Prepared from organic waste Free to produce 100% natural and organic  It improves soil aeration, texture and soil tilth  It increases the water retention capacity of soil Keeps food scraps out of the landfill Does not take much space Great way to get rid of sensitive documents Nutrients are available immediately It is fun!

29 Gardeners Love worms Worm castings Promote better root growth & nutrient absorption 7 times the available phosphorous 6 times the available nitrogen 3 time the available magnesium 2 times the available carbon 1.5 times the available calcium “Without the work of this humble creature, who knows nothing of the benefits he confers upon mankind, agriculture, as we know it, would be very difficult, if not wholly impossible” Charles Darwin


31 Other Questions? Can I put kitty litter in my worm bin?
Can magazine pages go in the worm bin? Should I put paper napkins in my bin? Can I dig up worms from my yard and put them in a worm bin? How can I easily trouble shoot my worm bin? More questions?


33 Resources Worms Eat My Garbage The Worm Book
Mary Appelhof The Worm Book Loren Nancarrow

34 May the Worms be with you!
For more information or additional questions Please call or the Master Recycler Coordinator *


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