Composting with worms, or vermicomposting, provides the gardener with several benefits. Adding worms to a compost pile speeds up the decomposition process, eliminating the need to routinely turn the pile and getting rid of the foul smell. Due to the absence of the smell, many gardeners prefer to house their pile indoors where harvesting the soil can be done in a clean and temperate atmosphere.
Unlike a traditional compost pile where organic matter is allowed to decompose on its own time, vermicomposting works at a much faster pace. The worms steadily feed on the organic matter, process it and leave castings or nutrient-rich soil behind. As a result, more compost can be produced as needed. If time is of the essence, worms are fantastic tools when a gardener needs to quickly generate fertilizer.
With traditional compost piles, the soil must be turned regularly to aid the decomposition process and aerate the soil. This is usually done by shovel and can be time-consuming and laborious. To avoid having to turn the pile by hand, many gardeners invest in expensive compost bins with a turning crank on the side. With vermicomposting, no turning is needed as the worms are simultaneously processing and aerating the soil as they feed on it.
Compost piles are usually kept far away from the home due to the rotten smell. This is because the organic matter sits decomposing in the pile with little or no oxygen to aerate the nasty odors. When the gardener finally turns the piles, the odors unleashed can make routine turning into a nightmare. However, the worms are rapidly decomposing and aerating the organic matter all at once, making it difficult for the organic matter to ever generate a rotten smell. The gardener can keep the worm bin indoors in a dark and climate-controlled area, which is necessary for the worm's health. Worm bins may smell from time to time, but according to Savvy Gardener, stirring the pile, reducing the amount of organic mater added per day and checking drainage holes for blockage will quickly eliminate the smell.
A Little Goes a Long Way
The soil left behind after vermicomposting is extremely concentrated with organic nutrients. The worm castings are a mixture of all the nutrients found in the organic matter that previously entered the pile. According to Community Crops, the slime that holds the worm castings together is also high in nitrogen, one of the three main nutrients found in all fertilizers. As a result, less vermicompost than regular compost is needed when mulching or fertilizing the garden. The remaining soil can be packed and stored for later use.