What is vermicomposting?
Vermicomposting is a composting method in which organic material is decomposed by earthworms. Composting itself is a simple activity that has a great impact on the quality of the environment.
During composting, biowaste becomes humus-containing material in which organic and mineral substances and water are bound, which are then available to plants. Finished compost is a very high quality fertilizer.
In vermicomposting, we obtain compost that is significantly better than ordinary compost. Higher quality is mainly caused by the higher content of enzymes, which increase soil fertility by up to 30% compared to conventional compost. Enzymes will enable better utilization of minerals already contained in the soil, while the utilization of minerals in the soil is usually 40-50%, with the content of enzymes from vermicompost their utilization in the soil is 80-90%.
Vermicompost protects plants against diseases and pests. The main advantage of vermicompost compared to conventional compost is undoubtedly that vermicompost can be used on lawns, fertilizing plants and gardens. Vermicompost is quickly absorbed, nourishes the grassy area and will not prevent subsequent use.
What is needed for vermicomposting?
An advantage of vermicomposting is its ease of preparation. You will only need a sufficiently spacious container with a lid to ensure darkness.
The container should not be too deep. For the production of compost for our own consumption, a container of about 40 x 40 x 15 will suffice. We should make holes in the lower part that will prevent the vermicompester from drying out. Waste, which may consist of grass, leaves, torn and moistened newsprint, soil, peat, shavings or coconut fiber, is placed on the bottom of the vermicomposter.
A more expensive and less time-consuming option is to purchase a vermicomposter. The main difference is the division of the vermicomposter into floors, which allows for more efficient composting and more airy space for earthworms.
The vermicompost container can be placed both outdoors and indoors. It depends mainly on the temperature – earthworms are most effective at a temperature of around 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit). We should make sure that not much light enters the container.
What kind of earthworm is suitable for vermicomposting?
California earthworms, which you can usually buy from a breeder, are the most suitable for vermicomposting.
What belongs to a vermicomposter?
Mainly vegetable and fruit residues, coffee grounds, tea residues, paper napkins, pastry residues and various peels (from potatoes, garlic, onions…)
Conversely, earthworms do not digest meat and dairy products. In order for the vermicomposter to work effectively, we should follow the rule that if we own 0.5 kg of earthworms, we should give them about half of their weight – ie 0.25 kg. This amount of earthworms is stated to be ideal for a family of 4, as they produce on average 0.25 kg of biowaste per day.
How do we know the finished compost?
Finished compost, which we can reuse in the garden or household, we can expect on average within 3 months from the beginning of vermicomposting. Compost resembles black soil, does not smell and we do not find any residues in it.
We can easily test the quality and maturity of compost by planting fast-germinating seeds – watercress, peas, beans. If a nice green stand germinates, the compost is ripe and we can use it. If a yellow to green stand is created, we can state that this stand is not of good quality and we should continue vermicomposting. It can also indicate an incorrectly balanced compost – only one component of biowaste dominates, from which no compost of such quality can be created as is the case with the diversity of components in the compost.