Vermiculture is a method of composting that uses redworms, also called red wrigglers. As the redworms eat and process the foods added to the compost bin, they excrete castings. Worm castings are rich in organic material and can be used to improve the quality of soil in containers or gardens.
Redworms are the best kind of worms for vermiculture. Small red worms can be found in established compost piles or aged manure. Redworms can also be bought in some local stores and online.
Vermiculture bins should be sturdy wood or plastic with holes for drainage and air circulation. Plastic bins usually need more drainage holes than wood bins. A tight lid should be used on any bin kept outside in order to protect the worms from predators. A screen or cloth is suitable for a bin kept inside. A bin with dividers or sections is easier to use.
Shredded paper or leaves are used as bedding for the worms. The bedding should be as damp as a wrung-out sponge. It should be fluffy---not packed down---to allow for air circulation and the movement of the worms.
Fruit and vegetables, tea bags (remove staples), coffee grounds, crushed egg shells and other food waste can be used for vermiculture. Meat, dairy products or foods that contain animal fats should not be used.
Harvesting the Compost
When the bin is full of worm castings, the worms should be moved to another bin prepared with bedding material. The worm castings, or compost, can be added to plant containers, worked into the ground around plants or used as mulch.
- Humboldt State University
- Composting With Red Wriggler Worms
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About this Author
Melody Lee worked as a newspaper reporter, copywriter and editor for 5 years. In addition, she has edited magazine articles and books. Lee holds a degree in landscape design and is a Florida master gardener. She has more than 25 years of gardening experience, which includes working at nurseries and greenhouses.