Making Vermicompost at Home – A Full Guide

Making Vermicompost at Home.
Making Vermicompost at Home.

Introduction: Hello gardeners today we will have a great insight of making Vermicompost at home. Vermicomposting is a method of making compost, with the use of earthworms, which normally live in soil, eat biomass and excrete it in a digested form. This compost is also generally called vermicompost or Wormicompost.

A step by step guide to Making Vermicompost at Home

Vermicompost is worm manure. Worm castings are considered by many in horticulture to be one of the best soil amendments obtainable. The nutrient content of castings depends on the material fed to the worms and worms commonly feed on highly nutritious materials, which are food waste and manures. Worm castings provide a variety of nutrients useful to promote plant growth and in a form readily available for plant uptake. The biology of the worm’s gut facilitates the growth of fungus and bacteria that are helpful to plant growth. Also, various chemical compounds are found in castings that are thought to promote plant growth.

Much of the content of worm castings and their effects on several plants are still being studied. Nonetheless, farmers and soils blenders know the advantages of worm castings from their actual effect on plants and product sales, even when the worms are fed low-nutrient materials that are paper fiber.

Vermicomposting is composting with worms that are super easy and great for plants. All you need is a box that you put some worms in and organic material. Vermicompost is an organic fertilizer, which improves soil texture and adds nutrients to the garden. Vermicompost contains not only the nutrients from the decomposed materials but also the worm castings themselves, which adds valuable nutrients to the soil. Vermicompost normally contains between 5 to 11 times more nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous than ordinary soil. What are we waiting for? Let’s start making Vermicompost at home.

Vermicompost with Potted Plants

House plants will greatly advantage with vermicompost. When planting or transplanting, simply mix up to 30% vermicompost with potting soil and plant as usual. You can add a layer of vermicompost to the top of the soil for existing plants.

Vermicompost with New Plantings

When planting new trees and shrubs, work up to 30% vermicompost into the soil in the bottom of the hole, and when backfilling. This will obtain your plants established quickly.

Advantages of Vermicompost

  • Vermicompost simple process; very little training is required.
  • Vermicompost is a low start-up cost. You can often use existing equipment and obtainable space.
  • No turning, no unpleasant odors, and the worms do all the processing, naturally.
  • It can be used indoor year-round and perfect for apartments, condominiums or schools.
  • The resulting vermicompost or worm cast is very rich in nutrients. It is valuable to farmers, landscapers, and home gardeners than raw manure or traditional compost. A worm casting conserves moisture and improves soil conditions.
  • Vermicompost enhances plant growth, suppresses disease in plants, increases porosity and microbial activity in the soil, and develops water retention and aeration. Vermicompost benefits the environment by reducing the need for chemical fertilizers and decreasing the amount of waste going to landfills.
  • The worm castings have a higher percentage of both macro and micronutrients than the garden compost. Vermicompost enhances plant growth, suppresses disease in several plants, increases porosity and microbial activity in the soil, and improves water retention and aeration.

What kind of worms is used for making Vermicompost at home?

Most worm farms raise two main types of earthworm are Eisenia foetida and Lumbricus rubellis. These worms are normally used to produce vermicompost, as well as for fish bait. Both are referred to by a variety of common names, and including red worms, red wigglers, tiger worms, brandling worms, and manure worms. These two species are often raised together and difficult to tell apart, though they are not believed to interbreed. While several other species have been successfully bred in recent years, this fact sheet focuses mainly on the use of these species. The nightcrawler is harvested and sold for fishing bait. This species does not breed well in captivity and is normally harvested from wild stock.

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The basic raw material for making Vermicompost at home

Any organic material generated in the farm such as bhusa, leaf fall, etc. Horse dung, due to the risk of the Tetanus virus, lethal to human beings is not advisable to be mainly used as feeding material for earthworms. Paddy husk and pine needles have not advised being used as feeding materials for earthworms.

Methods used for making Vermicompost at home

Vermicomposting comprises mainly two methods. They are;

  • Bed Method – This is an easy process in which beds of organic matter are prepared.
  • Pit Method – In this process, the organic matter is collected in cemented pits. However, this process is not prominent as it involves problems of poor aeration and waterlogging. 

Type of Vermicompost

The types of vermicomposting mainly depend upon the amount of production and composting structures. Small-scale vermicomposting is done in the backyard to meet the personal requirement and farmers can harvest 5 to 10 tonnes of vermicompost annually. And Large-scale vermicomposting is done at a commercial scale by recycling a large quantity of organic waste with the production of about 50 to 100 tonnes annually. A unit must have beds of equal size with the central path of 3′, harvesting floor and vermiwash pit.

Making the process of Vermicompost at home

Making Process of Vermicompost at Home.
Making Process of Vermicompost at Home.
Buy and Prepare the Bin

Drill the holes in the sides of the Rubbermaid storage bin, bottom and top (too few or too many holes can be a bad thing, so maintain the total number around 20) for air circulation and drainage. Buy a bin that is opaque and not clear and the worms need for it to be dark inside.

Worm bins are premade vermicompost containers and many gardening or organic supply stores sell them. If you don’t buy a worm bin and buy a 20-gallon storage container from the store. Make sure it is opaque so light won’t get in. This storage container holds the bedding, food scraps, and worms. It regulates the amount of moisture in the bedding and blocks light. Make sure that the container you buy has a lid. Otherwise, you will have to improvise and cover it with black plastic, like a trash bag.

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Setting up a bin at home or work

Worm bins changes depending on the desired size of the system. Look for bins that have sufficient holes in the sides to allow air to flow and a spout that can be opened or closed or holes in the bottom to drain into a collection tray. Continuous vertical flow bin type is a series of trays stacked vertically and the bottom-most tray is filled first but is not harvested when it is full. Worms finish composting process the materials in the bottom tray and then migrate to the one above. When a sufficient number of worms have migrated, the vermicompost in the bottom tray can be collected and must be relatively free of worms. These bins give the easiest method of harvesting. The moisture level and oxygen flow must be checked at least once a week.

Choose a spot in your house to place the worm bin

The placement of the compost bin is very important. Many apartments don’t allow storage on balconies, so you may have to strategically hide the compost bin so it is not visible from the outside. Also, keep the bin in a shady spot. You don’t want the worms to obtain too hot or have too much light.

The best places for worm bins keep a consistent temperature and moisture level. Avoid placing a bin near a heater, oven, air conditioner, or vent. Although worm bins generally don’t produce much smell, you may want to keep it out of the main living areas of your home. The ideal temperature for the worm bin is 55 to 75°F or 12.8 to 23.9°C. Store the worm bin in a closet, laundry room, or storage room. If you have a large kitchen and are not worried about potential smells, keep it in the kitchen to simply throw food in it.

To begin Bedding

Bedding is the living medium and a food source for the worms. It is a material with high carbon and made to mimic decaying dried leaves the forest floor, the worms’ natural habitat. The bedding must be moist (similar to the consistency of a wrung-out sponge). Keep bin away from warm places or direct sunlight.

Drill holes in the bin for airflow

If you buy a premade worm bin, it could have air holes already. If you buy a storage container, use a power drill to cut ½ inch or 1.27 cm holes in the bottom, sides, and lid of the bin. Drill a total of about 20 holes in the bin. Drill 5 holes each in the lid and the bottom, and at least 3 holes on each side of the bin. The worms won’t leave through these bin holes because of their aversion to light, but you can cover the holes with wire screen or mesh if you want.

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Shred Paper for Bedding

Shred newspaper into thin strips to create bedding for the worms you will add. Please avoid glossy paper, such as the paper ads are often printed on. Newspaper and paper inside of phone books are safe for composting worms because the inks used in these papers are strictly regulated by the government. Cardboard, such as toilet paper tubes, and egg cartons are suitable for worm bedding. (Glossy boxes, such as cereal boxes are not appropriate for worm bedding.) Spray the paper so that it is moist, but not soaking wet and always keep the bedding at this moist consistency.

Add Food and Wait

Add a little bit of food and a small scoop of dirt and wait about 2 weeks. The food grows an excellent crop of microbes that the worms will eat.

Add Worms for making vermicompost at home

Eisenia fetid, or red worms, are the best worms for the vermicomposting bin. You can find boxes of them at the local garden center. They must breed in your bin, so you should only need to invest in worms once. Don’t put earthworms in your worm bin. They will die and compost will fail. 

Feed the Bin

You will be “feeding the bin” (instead of feeding the worms) because although worms do eat some of the waste material put into the compost bin, they generally feed on the microbes that break down the waste. Good food to put in the bin contains fruits and vegetables (feed citrus in moderation), coffee grounds, tea bags, and crushed eggshells.

For foods to add in moderation include citrus, starches (bread, rice, etc.), spicy peppers, onions, oily food, and sugary food. Never add meat or dairy, or any type of human or pet waste. And don’t add too much food. Watch the bin and see what foods break down and what foods don’t break down. Foods such as lettuce break down right away, while banana peels take a long time to decompose. When you feed the bin, add a new shredded newspaper or spray with water, if required.

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Add ½ pound (226 g) of food per day for every 1000 worms. Normally, 1000 worms can compost ½ pound (226 g) per day. If you know your family will make more waste than that, add more worms to the bin. If you make more food on some days, save the food scraps and add them later so that it averages out to about four pounds (1.8 kg) total for the whole week. These worms reproduce in the worm bin, so you will eventually have more than 1000 anyway. However, the rate of reproduction is inconsistent and you can’t count the worms easily.

Harvest your vermicompost

Harvest your vermicompost after about 6 months. Verify the bin weekly to see how much bedding is left. When all of the bedding has been converted to compost, it is harvest time. Push it all to one side, and then add new wet bedding. Gradually scoop out the compost but leave the worms in the bin. You may have some compost ready after 2 or 3 months. If you require, harvest the compost a little bit at a time rather than taking it all out at once.

Vermicomposting applications

Agricultural Crops – Apply vermicompost by broadcasting when the seedlings are 12 to 15 cms in height. Irrigate the field(s).

Flowers, Vegetable plants and Fruit Trees – Apply vermicompost around the base of the plant, at any stage of development, and cover with soil. Water regularly.

Disadvantages of Vermicompost

Temperature Limits

Vermicomposting wants a low temperature to be maintained in the compost operation so the worms do not lose moisture and dry out. The normal temperature for vermicomposting is between 55 and 75°F.

Care

The vermicomposting method requires greater care than regular composting methods. The worms used in vermicomposting need care, food, heat and moisture at proper levels to remain healthy and create the compost material.

Cost

It is more expensive to set up than regular compost piles or batch composters. Vermicomposting wants special materials to start, such as plastic or metal containers and red worms. Regular composting wants nothing but a hill or barrel to start. Vermicomposting requires lime to stabilize the acid levels created by the waste in the new soil.

Size Scales

It requires more space than regular composting. Eventually, you will want several bins to get the same compost yield as you would from one traditional composting bin.

That’s all folks about making Vermicompost at home, benefits and disadvantages of Vermicompost.

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