Vermicompost is worm manure, which is also referred to as castings or casts. Vermicomposting is a composting technique that turns worm manure into nutrient-rich, high-quality fertilizer. Vermicompost is considered healthier for plants because worm castings don't contain any disease pathogens.
Vermicompost requires worms, bedding and a worm bin. Good bedding choices included cardboard or shredded paper, while the worm bin can be made of wood, metal or plastic.
The two worms most commonly used to produce vermicompost are the Lumbricus rubellis and the Eisenia foetida species. Common names for these earthworms include tiger worms, red wigglers and red worms.
One pound of mature earthworms can consume up to 1/2 pound of organic matter every day. It typically takes three or four months for the earthworms to produce enough castings to harvest for vermicompost.
The worm castings in the vermicompost contains much higher levels of potassium, phosphorous and nitrogen than regular soil. Vermicompost also contains various chemical compounds that promote plant growth.
Vermicompost worms thrive in moist soils and temperatures ranging between 55 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit. These earthworms can't tolerate direct sunlight because they have photosensitive skin.
Vermicompost bins sometimes attracts soldier flies who lay their eggs in the soil. While the solder fly maggots might look horrid, they actually help with the composting process.
- Vermicomposting: Composting with Worms
- EPA: Vermicomposting
- Earthworm Digest
- Earthworm Castings as Plant Growth Media
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Cat Carson has been a writer, editor and researcher for the past decade. She has professional experience in a variety of media, including the Internet, newspapers, newsletters and magazines. Her work has appeared on websites like eHow.com and GardenGuides.com, among others. Carson holds a master’s degrees in writing and cultural anthropology, and is currently working on her doctoral degree in psychology.