4-H Vermicomposting A school enrichment program for 5 th grade youth
Lesson 1 - Vermicomposting Objectives –What is vermicomposting? –How does vermicomposting take place? –How can vermicompost be used? –What are the benefits of vermicompost? –What are the categories of worms?
What is Vermicomposting? Use of worms and microorganisms to change plant tissue into vermicompost that is rich in nutrients Plant tissue in the worm bin is consumed by worms, making them consumers
Where Can I Vermicompost? Can take place in classrooms, offices and homes, wherever food scraps or other organic matter is being generated or delivered Being used to help solve N.C. hog waste problem Food scraps that can be used in worm bins include fruits and vegetables. Don’t use this as an excuse to not eat your vegetables!
Microorganisms help to decompose the organic matter in the worm bin Organic matter that worms eat passes through their digestive tract and is excreted as castings Worms and castings
What Are Worm Castings? Castings contain undigested plant residues, bacteria, and soils Castings improve soil and helps plants grow big and healthy
How Do Castings Help Plants and Soil? They break clumps of soil into pieces that allow air and water to enter into the soil They add nutrients to soil that are needed by plants to grow
How Can Castings Be Used? Castings can be mixed into soil: –in gardens –on lawns –around trees –in nurseries –on farm fields –for houseplants
Advantages of Vermicomposting Reduces garbage disposal costs Produces less odor and attracts fewer pests Saves electricity and water used for in-sink garbage disposals Produces free, high-quality soil amendment Requires little space, labor, or maintenance Produces free worms for fishing
Earthworms in History Aristotle described them as the “intestines of the earth” Cleopatra declared earthworms sacred and established laws to protect them Charles Darwin demonstrated they improved soil and plant productivity
Marcel Bouche’s Categories of Worms Epigeic – (e-pi-‘jee-ik) types live at soil surface in decaying plant or animal residues Endogeic – (en-doe-jee-ik) types live underground and eat soil to extract nutrition from degraded organic residues Anecic – (an-ee-sik) types burrow deep in the soil but come to the surface at night to forage for freshly decaying organic matter
Worm Facts This is a 10-foot Giant Gippsland Worm