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Vermicomposting  RSS feed

 
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Hi all,

Does anyone here use vermicomposting? I have a small garden in the backyard of my home.
Most of the gardeners including me are now using compost piles to compost their yard and kitchen waste, but it is a challenge to continually create new compost piles. So I am planning to use a more time-efficient composting process

Vermicomposting is the process of using worms and microorganisms to turn kitchen waste into nutrient rich plant food and soil conditioner
Since I am new to this, I have a lot of queries regarding this.
I checked on the internet and read some details here, https://junkit.ca/blog/what-is-vermicomposting/.
The process looks simple to me, but yet to try it out.
Do you all have any suggestions or tips to share?
 
pollinator
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I am doing it in the most basic fashion. I dig my kitchen scraps straight into the garden. Done! Its amazing what it has done to the native earthworm population.  They find it and thrive.

When i bought morell mushroom spawn,  the instructions said to do this also(bury food scraps).
 
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I vermicompost. I began doing so when living in an apartment about 10 years ago. I think vermicomposting is the best way to compost kitchen scraps if you don't have chickens. Some key learning points based on my mistakes over the years: 1) be patient- don't feed all your scraps unless you have a big worm population to start with. 2) start with at least 1kg (2.2lb) of worms for a normal size household. 3) if it isn't going well (smell, flies), be patient! it's often a matter of figuring out moisture levels and balancing amount of scraps to the worm population. 4) don't harvest worm castings too early on- let the population settle so they have plenty of substrate to retreat to if it gets hot or wet. Use a lot of wet newspaper to balance moisture! 5) after a few months, if you're finding one bin does not take care of your scraps, consider adding bins-- worms will not exceed the carrying capacity of their space, so it's better to split a population and add a bin (you can even stack them).

Because all our vegetable scraps go to our chickens and ducks, we mainly feed alpaca manure and newspaper to our worms, or some scraps if we have a windfall from the nearby vegetable stall. Still, we're able to maintain 3 totes, one large 350L roley bin (previously a municipal bin), and two old bathtubs-- probably about 5.5kg of worms in total. For our acre, I think we could still easily use more so I am still adding bins. The large vertical municipal bin is ideal for summer, as it limits evaporation. The bathtubs are awesome during the cooler months (no frost where we are)-- and I'm hoping they'll be full enough that they can manage next summer. The totes are a good starter size, but for a family of 4 the amount of scraps produced by one bin tends to be just too much.

I think of vermicomposting as a great supplemental composting technique for annual crops, and very good if you have vegetable scraps. Good luck!!!
 
pollinator
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Location: Toronto, Ontario
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I find it happens accidentally for me. I have been using one of those municipally provided black composters in the tiny piece of urban backyard I have available. If I got the ratios perfectly right, I could get it to hot compost.

What happened, though, was that we got a Flemish Giant rabbit. We use a bedding product made of recycled and waste raw wadded paper, which upped the carbon content considerably, kicking the hot compost conditions to the curb, except maybe for a little right in the centre of the pile.

What I noticed instead of a hot compost the first time checking the composter since beginning to add the rabbit bedding and waste was that the bin was teeming with all sorts of life, but mostly springtails and others I recognise from healthy, compost-rich soil. The worms were obvious the moment I began to turn the pile. I even found some mating near the base of the container.

I am constantly surprised when I visit the composter now. It takes about a week for the worms to turn and incorporate a full litter box (we use one designed for large cats), and perhaps another to leave no trace of paper whatsoever. I think the paper content helps maintain a relatively constant moisture level, and the composter is sitting on bare soil, so the worms can move up and down the soil column for shelter should they need it.

I like ground-connected outdoor vermicomposting, as the worms can always escape to more hospitable conditions, should the bin become unlivable for any reason. There's also more leeway for things like sub-optimal odiferous events, which can happen when you make additions or adjustments.

Also, if they're in the soil column, and if I put only semi-finished compost in my beds, under my mulch, the worms venture out and find it, and keep on doing their thing. They are the hardest working livestock there is.

-CK
 
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Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
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Yeah I found traditional hot composting a lot of work. And around here it seems to not quite finish off properly unless it sits for 12 months (then again it's frozen for 6 months of the year).

I've been vermicomposting for about 5 years now. The first year was a bit wild as the worms and I got to know each other. Now I feed them tea leaves, melon / squash / cucumbers, and vege scraps (except garlic and onions). I never add water. I don't bother with paper or bedding anymore, and I use a multilevel system so the worms travel up and down as needed. My system has a sump to collect leachate so it never gets too wet or dry for that matter. It never gets stinky and it lives inside during the winter so that would have been a deal breaker. I drain the leachate off once every 6 months or so and that IS stinky.

The castings take 12 months to process, and I clean out the bottom container in the fall to use in the spring for seed raising. It could be in there longer as the worms still love hanging out in it, but I find that's enough time for the egg population to have dropped off somewhat.

Processing the castings is a pain in the ass. The best method I've found so far is to spread it out on some plastic during a sunny day and over a period of hours remove the castings from the outside as the worms migrate into the center. I'm always left with a bunch of worms and eggs. And young potted plants don't like living with worms as I have discovered.

So I put the collected castings into a pail, loosely cover it with a garbage bag, and let it sit somewhere warm for about a month. The remaining worms will turn the castings, and a bunch of the eggs will hatch and this is why I leave it to sit. The consistency goes from muddy and clumpy, to light and fluffy. Eventually the worms will be found hanging out in the top inch or so of castings, and I'll scoop them up and put them back into the composting system. I still miss a bunch, and so the castings get stored outside so the cold temps will kill off the rest.

I've found this to be the simplest way to process the castings, and in the spring when I thaw it out and screen it using one of those wire trash cans as a screen, there is not one worm or egg to be found.

At the moment I only use the castings in potting mix and seed raising mix. However I did release composting worms into the garden, and each fall I make a winter home for them so they survive the ice and snow. I now find them all over the garden so they certainly travel.
 
wayne fajkus
pollinator
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I was scrolling thru local utubes and had an omg moment. Thats my brother! Lol. He's the guy in the background

Basically he took a wicking bed and used it to raise worms/castings.

The brilliance is it keeps the moisture constant. That alone is probably the #1 reason they fail. Whether it dries out or excess rain drowns them. The wick bed solves both. Theres another utube of the main guy making a wicking bed and second half is about using it for worms.

 
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