Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Benefit with vermicompost from your own wormery!

As you may or may not know, I have a worm bin full of thousands of redworms that I keep in our dining room. The whole family enjoys feeding the worms our vegetable scraps and watching the babies hatch. My worm bin is the Gardens Alive Worm Factory.

I have written before about setting up the worm bin here and here. I have written about how to harvest the worm compost from the bin, but I have never really shown why vermicompost is so great.

Worm castings, or vermi-compost is the super compost - the best organic natural fertilizer possible for your plants. I have always read this and believed it, but this year I decided to put it to the test.

Remember the Pea bed that I prepared back in March? In that bed, I put two rows of chicken wire fence with two rows of peas on either side of each fence. Afther the peas got growing, they looked like this:

For my experiment I put freshly harvested worm compost as a top dressing on the two rows of peas on one fence and not on the other.

After a few weeks, the pea vines on the composted side grew so much bigger than the other side that they reached above the fence and fell over! They also yielded many more peas! The easiest way to show you the difference is by this split screen picture:

The left side had the vermicompost added. Look how much thicker the vine is than the one on the right. The right side did well too. I never would have known the power of the worms if I hadn't done this side-by-side test. The peas were fabulous, by the way.

On the same day I added the worm castings to the peas, I transplanted my last early tomato plant. I added a generous amount of the worm compost to it's hole as well.

It may be just a coincidence, but that is the plant that has been giving us our early ripe tomatoes so far! The other early tomato plants haven't ripened yet. Sounds fishy doesn't it? Or should I say wormy! I'm convinced that the vermi-compost made the difference. It makes me want to get another tray started on my Worm factory right away. Each finished tray makes quite a bit of compost.

I have a friend that has been asking me about worm composting and how to do it. That has made me realize that I never really written a comprehensive how-to compost with worms post. I am now in the process of doing that. It will be added to gardendesk.com as a page. Worm composting is one of many topics that I write about but don't really give good details to the beginner. I apologize for that and am working on making that better. That is why I started the GardenDesk page arm of this site. So far I do have a general composting page, a seed-starting page and a beneficial insect page. Soon I will add a worm composting page and several others.

For now all I can do for my friend is refer her to my worm composting thread and recommend some books like Worms Eat My Garbage: How to Set Up and Maintain a Worm Composting System and The Worm Book . Also, my Worm Factory came with a great little informational booklet that I am loaning to her. She has said that she may buy the same bin that I have which made me remember the Gardens Alive online $20 off coupon that they have. You can get that by clicking here:

Save $20 on any order of $40 or more!

I posted that primarily for her, but anyone can use it. It leads to the main Gardens Alive page and is good for any of their products. If you are looking for the Worm Factory, you then need to search for "Worm Composting System". I highly recommend worm composting and endorse the Gardens Alive Worm Factory.

Other than my friend reading this, I'd love to here others thoughts on worm bin composting. Do you have one? Have you made one yourself that you are happy with? Does the idea intrigue you or disgust you. One thing is sure, vermicompost IS nature's super-compost!

Keep Growing!

- Marc

8 comments:

icebear

My bin looks just like yours, mine came from Gusanito though. But i think they are the best style if you don't have a spot to hide them. I got my worms over a year ago (one pound of them Feb 12, 2009) and have stacked all 3 trays by now. I have yet to harvest the compost because i haven't found the time or a foolproof and fast method that suits me, but i do use the worm juice to side dress the plants in the garden. Just that is doing good things. I get about a pint a week of the worm tea.

I need to just get going and find a method of separating the worms and go do it.
I think that is the only challenging part i have found. I'm not squeamish about it, but i think its gonna be messy and i'm not sure i'll recover a high percentage of worms.

The only time the bin has done anything disturbing in a memorable way was when i put way too much cabbage scrap in it. The cabbage caused some odor until the worms got things under control. Now if i have too much scrap like that it goes into the outdoor compost pile or in the freezer to be doled out to the worms at a less fragrant pace.

In all, though i have not harvested the castings yet, i'm glad i have it. I can't get to my outdoor compost pile in winter so it is great to have an indoor solution. I haven't thrown away a scrap of fruit or vegetable since February 2009.
I have also looked into something called Bokashi composting. Its a lacto-fermenting method that allows meat, fat and bones to be composted odorlessly, and the result is also great for gardens having a high protein and calcium content from what i understand.

Marc and Renee

icebear,

Thanks for a great comment. I'm glad to hear that you like this kind of worm bin too. You must keep your bin wetter than I do if you are able to get that much worm tea. That is a good benefit though. Harvesting the worm castings has been super easy. Just stop adding any new vegetable scraps to the lowest bin. Since the bottom of the trays have holes in them, the worms will eventually consume all of the food in their tray and move up on their own. This last time that I got the compost, I just took the whole tray out to the garden with me because it was all compost and no worms!

Liz

If you still have worms in the bottom tray, just move it to the top and leave the lid off for a day or two and the worms will go down to the other tray. That is how I do it.
I have other harvesting techniques on my website: http://www.wormbincomposting.com/wormharvesting.html

Happy Worming!
BigTex Worms

Matron

Yes, the worm compost castings is strong stuff! I don't put it on plants 'neat' I dilute it with other compost or make a dilute liquid feed. Great stuff!

Susi

Marc - the coupon link for the worm factory doesn't work. It's asking for a coupon code. Any ideas?

Marc and Renee

Susi,

I'm sorry the coupon didn't work. I checked with the company and they gave me a new logo coupon link. I tried it out and this one does work if you are still interested. Again, sorry about that. Let me know later if you get the worm factory and how you like it. Thanks!

Marc

Matron

worm compost is great stuff, but I find just a bit too strong to use on its own! I use it as a mix with other stuff as a mulch.

Stephanie Suesan Smith, Ph.D.

I am glad I found your post. I really like the fact that you did an experiment to see how much the vermiculture would benefit the plants over a control. Now that I have seen that, I will be more proactive about recommending vermiculture to people.

My grandfather used to grow fishing worms in an old #2 washtub and feed them scraps and coffee grinds. Looks like you have a much better setup than that.

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