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Vermicomposting: Letting worms do the dirty work

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Presentation on theme: "Vermicomposting: Letting worms do the dirty work"— Presentation transcript:

1 Vermicomposting: Letting worms do the dirty work
Anne Kolaczyk Purdue University Master Gardener

2 Vermicomposting Composting worms eat decaying organic matter and turn it into worm castings (worm feces). The result is vermicompost, a mixture of worm castings and composted material such as the bedding in bin.

3 Why do it Ecologically responsible Saves you money Worms for fishing
Reduce waste in landfills and sewage treatment plants Provides valuable additives for your plants Saves you money Worms for fishing Cost efficient

4 Composting bins Ready made Layers Drainage Homemade Depth Surface area

5 Getting Started Bin Style Moisture control Aeration

6 Bedding Cardboard Newspaper Coconut fiber Old leaves Wood chips

7 Seeding Need a microbial rich substance to start the bin off.
Compost Vermicompost Manure Dirt Nothing too fresh though! You don’t want to generate heat from the seeding substance.

8 Worms Not all worms are equal! Redworms Eisenia foetida
Composters, not earthworkers Redworms Eisenia foetida Full density is 1 lb per sq ft of surface area

9 Worms, worms Worms become mature at 10 weeks
Will produce 2 to 3 cocoons a week Each cocoon holds 2-5 babies Cocoons take 3 weeks to hatch

10 And more worms In 6 months, 8 worms will multiply into 1500 if conditions are right They will stop breeding if there is not enough food or space.

11 Food scraps 1/2 lb of food per sq ft of surface area (assuming full worm density) per day kind Vegetable scraps Egg shells Coffee grounds Bread Plant waste No meat or bones No pet waste

12 Second course Worms eat the microbes that feed on the decaying food, not the food itself. Food won’t attract them until it starts to spoil. Consider pre-composting food

13 Yum, yum: week 1 A shell of a watermelon added to the bin

14 Yum, yum: week 2 That same shell after 10 days

15 Yum, yum: week 3 Same shell after 20 days

16 Care Add food Maintain moisture Harvest castings

17 Harvesting Methods For compost and restocking For compost only
Hand Sort Halving Bag trap For compost only Dumping For fishing worms Hand sort and remove largest

18 Points to remember Composting worms don’t do well out in your garden unless your soil is rich in humus. They need compost for food!

19 Inside or outside? Inside: Outside Space limitations Bugs Smell
Weather Animals Size

20 Outside for me I bought a Rubbermaid deck bin. Holds 10 cubic feet.
Placed on north side of house where it got very little sun. Positioned near electrical outlet.

21 Preparation Assembled bin Placed on styrofoam insulation sheet
Drilled holes in sides for ventilation Covered holes with screening using glue gun to keep out bees

22 Winterizing Place large covered bucket or container in middle of bin. Fill 2/3 with water. Put birdbath heater into water. Cut hole in cover for the cord. If extension cord is needed to reach outlet, wrap joint securely with plastic. Fill worm bin with bedding so it almost reaches top. Wrap sides with sheets of styrofoam insulation. Cut piece of foam insulation to lay on top of bedding. When temperature falls below freezing, plug in heater. It should create a core that is not frozen where the worms will gather.

23 Winter feeding They should keep eating Less amount perhaps

24 What makes worms THRIVE?
T temperature H H2O R recycle organics I invertebrates V ventilation E environment and pH

25 What makes worms CRAWL? C change of habitat R rain A absence of air
W water L lack of food

26 Let’s get real Concerns Solutions Worms in the house
They stay put, honest! Bugs, extraneous Fruit Flies Soldier Fly Larvae Slugs Freeze scraps Bury in bedding Vinega or wine traps Don’t bring in yard waste Bugs, part of process Spiders Mites Micro-organisms They help the decomposition process. No way to eliminate them, but they stay with the composting material. Wear gloves if they bother you. Mold May mean bin needs better aeration. Won’t hurt process or worms.

27 More reality Concerns Solutions Mushrooms Come from wood chip bedding.
Just bury into bedding. Smell Properly maintained bin has little smell. Stop feeding for a week. Change some of the bedding. Remove uneaten food. Time Except for harvesting, it takes less than 1/2 hour per week Children/Pets Great learning tool for kids. Closed bins keep pets out.

28 Uses On house plants In outdoor gardens Very high in nutrients
Compost tea

29 Let’s compare — Bin composting Vermicomposting Space limitations
No outdoor space available Large quantity of waste to compost Limited time to spend Pathogen control Ewww! factor Ecologically responsible

30 Just do it!

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