The product after the process of composting with the help of various worms, most commonly the red wigglers or the earthworms for creating a mixture of the decomposing food wastes or vegetables is what we know as vermicompost. Doing this method of vermicomposting is usually thorugh a vermicompost bin. The final products after the process of vermicomposting are worm castings or worm manures. The worm castings are very rich in nutrients and do not contain any contaminants at all. It contains nutrients that are soluble in water and can be a fertilizer and soil conditioner due to this property. The earthworm casts consist of proteins, microelements, and macro elements like nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium as well as a lot of vitamins.
Vermicompost is also referred to as Black gold by the gardeners or the farmers. The primary reason for this is that these organic fertilizers are excellent for the growth of plants and crops and also increases crop yields. There are a number of methods that are useful by placing the castings at the bases of the plants to mixing them in the topsoil. After introducing the organic worms into the soil, they naturally increase microbes, which aids in improving the soil’s health, thereby increasing the production capacity of the plants. If the soil has excellent health, the plants will be healthy too.
How to Increase Soil Fertility Naturally?
From ancient times, Earthworm is the best friend of farmers. They help balance the eco-system. But in modern times, the farmers use chemical fertilizers on their farms to get early harvesting of crops and earn more money. Maybe knowingly or unknowingly they are destroying the natural ecosystems and farmland. Due to the huge application of chemical fertilizers in farmland, causes killing of natural micro bacteria’s, earthworms and many more helpful insects. Farmland is becoming unfertile and needed more chemical fertilizers to grow crops. It’s not only pain for the farmers but also the pain for the society to intake chemical foods. Due to consumption of this chemically grown food, it causes the diseases like Cancer. It’s now time to back to basics.
As we know Earthworm is always helpful to farmers to produce highly nutritious compost which helps plants grow naturally without taking any chemical fertilizers. We will discuss, how Earthworm produces highly nutritious compost, called Vermicompost.
Using native earthworms
Globally, there are around 2500 earthwork species and almost 500 are in India itself. The species of earthworms generally vary with the type of soil. This is why choosing an earthworm species which is local is very important so that they can live and grow in the local soil and also, contribute to the process of vermicomposting. Importing earthworms from some other place is not a necessity and is also a bad idea. The local earthworms can be cultured easily and can be used for composting in the pits or crates or bins.
Why use Earthworms for Vermicompost
There are a number of reasons why earthworms are useful for vermicomposting. Listed below are a few of them:
- The earthworms are useful for managing wastes. They help in stabilizing the organic compounds that are volatile. They help in reducing the amount of organic matter, reduce the odor and also diminishes the level of pathogens. This is why the earthworms are necessary for converting the organic wastes into stabilized and extremely beneficial products.
- There are certain species of earthworms that are capable of reproducing very fast.
- Earthworm castings or the vermicompost can help in increasing the fertility of the soil because of the high quantity of nutrients present in it. This, in turn, helps the plants to be healthy, and the yield also increases.
Producing the Earthworms
Many times, the question may have flashed in the mind of the people who are new to vermicomposting as to how to produce earthworms or how to set up earthworm farms. Given below are lists of the methods for producing the earthworms.
- A suitable place is very much necessary for the worms with temperatures ranging from 60-80°F. The worms are capable of tolerating temperatures between 40-90°F as well.
- Preparing the bedding includes shredding newspapers, print out papers from the computer or even cardboards. Then, add worms to the bins along with sufficient amount of water. Doing so guarantees that the worms get moisture. But one has to be careful that the bedding does not become very soggy. Make sure to prepare the bedding one to two days before adding the worms because heat tends to harm the worms.
- The next step involves getting the worms. It is very easy to care for the worm. The earthworm food generally includes the products that are from plants like the potato peels, spaghetti, lettuce leaves, orange peels, moldy bread, coffee grounds or even tea. Giving garden wastes which include the corn shucks or even pea shells is also acceptable. Meat or bones tend to attract rodents, and hence it should not be around
- The bedding needs changing, and larger worms need harvesting.
- Once the worms start increasing in number, it is necessary to expand the quarters they are living in as well.
What you should feed your Earthworms with
When feeding the earthworms, there are a few things to keep in mind always. They are:
- The smaller the pieces of the food are, the better it will be. The main reason for this is that the pieces of the food that are small can break down rapidly. Thus, this enhances the speed of the process of composting. The general recommendation when it comes to feeding the worms is to give them large pieces of food. But doing so, is not a necessity. You have to be careful that the food reaches room temperature before it goes to the worm bin.
- The frequency with which the worms are being fed, and the quantity completely depends on you. You can add food anytime. You have to be sure of the fact that the earthworms eat all the food that has been added to more food is added to the tray.
- The earthworms should have equal greens and equal brown in their food. The greens include the scraps from the fruits and vegetables, pasta, tea bags, bread and the dead matter of the plants in the house. The browns consist of paper, egg cartons made of paper, junk mail, dry leaves, Some organic matter breaks down rapidly, while some may take time.
- There are a few foods that should not be given to the earthworms like citrus foods, foods rich in spice and salts or dairy products. This is because these food products attract the flies and can result in a foul smell coming from the vermicomposter.
- The difference between the greens and the browns should be clear. The browns have a high carbohydrate content which is essential for a maximum of the soil organisms for survival. The odors that are offensive are also captured by the carbons. Greens, on the other hand, are rich in nitrogen and protein. These enable the organisms to grow and multiply very fast.
The worms are grown for commercial purposes as well. Vermicomposting helps in solving two major problems which include (a) The disposal of organic wastes (b) The fertility of the soil. The vermicomposting team mainly comprises the earthworms which help in reducing the waste produced. When all the factors including moisture, feedstock, temperature, and pH balance are suitable, the earthworms multiply at high rates. Vermicomposting helps in transforming all the organic wastes into a product that is marketable, known as vermicompost.
To regulate the process of vermicomposting, more worms need to be raised for the larger operations of vermicomposting. Also, vermiculture practice leads to a high production of worm castings, which is a marketable product nowadays. Vermicomposting is considered to be one of the most useful cottage industries for those people, who are not well off financially, and it provides them with extra income. Vermicomposting, with the help of earthworms, is one of the most sustainable agro-practice.
If you love this article and looking for more farming tips, check out more of our posts!