A vermicompost project for beginners needs to be easy and also fun. Vermicomposting is not hard and can be fun and rewarding. If you have children in your house, that is great because worm composting will be even more fun.
Who can do this? Well, anyone can and should. If you produce waste or garden, a worm bin should be a part of your household. Just about everyone meets one of these requirements or both.
A vermicomposting project can be successful anywhere. Your home, apartment, school, garden club, or any living space can be used to vermicompost with worms.
Composting worms are good neighbors. Actually, a properly maintained worm bin does not smell and can even be kept under a kitchen sink. The worms are quiet and go about their work 24-7. It is even easy to forget about them and your composting worms will usually thrive anyway.
I can hear you all out there. “But, why should we all be composting with worms?” “What is in it for me?” I am very happy you asked. So, let’s have a little discussion about vermiculture.
What is the Process of Vermicomposting?
The definition of vermicomposting is the use of earthworms to convert organic wastes into stabilized organic matter under controlled conditions. Okay, that is a mouthful. What does it mean? I will break it down for you.
Vermicomposting is the use of earthworms (composting worms) to convert organic wastes (ie. food scraps, paper, cardboard) into stabilized organic matter (worm castings) under controlled conditions (worm bin).
Simply put, vermiculture is keeping some composting worms in a worm bin with organic waste bedding and feeding them food scraps. It really is that easy.
Now, I want to talk about 3 important reasons to start a vermicomposting project today. Number one.
Establish a Vermicompost Project To Reduce Landfill Wastes
One of the major benefits of vermicomposting is diverting organic waste from the landfill. Organic wastes comprise nearly 40% of all landfill materials. Some organizations have higher estimates so 40% is a conservative figure.
These organic wastes are a problem because they quickly decompose and cause air and water pollution. Also, decomposition underground produces methane gas. In fact, methane gas is a major contributor to climate change and global warming.
Some landfills try to capture some of this methane gas but recovery rates are dismal at best. Estimates state that only 10-20% of methane is recovered. This is totally unacceptable.
Did you know…over 1400 pounds of organic waste is produced every year per person in the U.S.?
We all need to do better because our kids and grandkids are counting on us. The solution begins at home.
The first reason to begin a vermicomposting project is to divert landfill waste.
Let’s look at reason number two.
Vermicomposting Produces Worm Castings
A vermicompost project is going to produce worm castings. Vermicompost or worm castings are an amazing soil amendment or fertilizer. This Black Gold can be used on lawns, landscaping, gardens, and even indoor plants. They are organic and completely kid-friendly and pet-safe. They also smell like fresh-turned earth.
Whether you garden or not, there is always a good use for worm castings because they are so versatile. Vermicompost can be applied to lawns or landscaping. This helps to break the cycle of chemical fertilizers and pesticides on our yards. Your soil will become healthier along with your pets and family. Worm castings and organic materials are very important in restoring soils back to health.
Worm castings are also the most important ingredient in compost tea. Compost tea provides an organic energy boost to your garden. Worm casting tea also helps to build soil health.
Gardeners will be amazed by worm castings because they make plants more healthy and produce great-tasting vegetables.
Delicious, nutrient-dense vegetables are going to be on the menu for you and your family. Don’t you want that?
We can all agree that worm castings are an important by-product of worm composting.
In fact, they are an integral part of reason number three to start a vermicomposting project today.
Restoring Our Soil Health with Worm Castings
The health of our soils has been in decline for many years. Over-farming, chemical fertilizers, pesticide use, and depletion of vital minerals are all primary causes. These practices cause problems that extend far beyond just our soil’s health.
Over-farming depletes necessary minerals and produces less nutrient-dense food. Crop rotation is out and chemical fertilizers are in. This increases the reliance on chemical fertilizers to produce more yields.
The excess nitrogen runs off and pollutes our rivers and lakes. Don’t think you get a pass by being an urban homeowner. Runoff from lawn chemicals is also a major contributor to algae blooms in our lakes and streams.
Chemical fertilizers destroy our soil’s health by killing the microorganisms that are so crucial for healthy soil. As the microorganisms die, earthworms also die or leave because their food source is gone.
Widespread pesticide use and the advent of GMO crops are having a devastating effect on our ecosystem. Bees are dying and insect populations are at an all-time low.
It may not seem important at first glance but bees are responsible for most of the pollination that occurs.
Insects are a primary food source for many species and the problems move right up the food chain.
Vermicompost and Organic Materials
Will using vermicompost solve all of our chemical fertilizer problems? No. However, a return to sustainable farming practices will help to restore healthy soils.
This includes proper crop-rotation, no-till practices, cover crops, adding organic material to the soil, and organic fertilizers such as worm castings.
Vermicompost research shows that plant health and yield is improved with its use. Disease resistance and pest-deterrence for plants is also a primary benefit of vermicompost.
Organic materials such as compost is also an important part of the solution.
I have talked about 3 good reasons to start a vermicomposting project.
A vermicompost project also has some disadvantages. Let’s explore.
Disadvantages of Vermicomposting
A primary disadvantage of vermicomposting is scalability. Many times we have more organic waste than we can or are willing to process in a worm bin or windrow.
Our gardens, lawns, farm fields, and landscapes need more organic materials to achieve optimum soil health. Microorganisms in our soil feed on organic materials and need them to thrive.
The solution, a simple outdoor compost pile. An outdoor compost heap can accept all the excess organic materials you may have. This can be used in your garden or on your lawns as needed. This solution also keeps the organic waste out of the landfills. Win! Win!
How about some ideas of a vermicompost project?
A Vermicompost Project at Home
Starting a vermicomposting project at home is the easiest way to begin. This can be as simple as finding a space for a worm bin.
Worm bins come in all shapes and sizes. Small ones, large ones, spare totes, re-purposed containers, wooden boxes, etc. The possibilities are nearly endless.
Tear up some paper, shred some cardboard, toilet paper rolls, egg cartons, peat moss, coconut coir, or dried leaves will all make good bedding for your worms. Use a variety of materials for good diversity in your worm bin.
Add water to the bedding materials until it is the consistency of a wrung-out sponge. Squeeze a handful hard and you should get a couple of drops of water out. Perfect.
Just add composting worms from a local supplier or an online source. Put in some food scraps and you are vermicomposting. Easy, peasy!
How about some more ideas for a vermicomposting project?
Start a Vermicompost Project in School
There is no better way to share knowledge than by showing others how to vermicompost. I have set-up many classrooms with composting worms and a worm bin.
There is no greater joy than watching pre-schoolers light up when you are showing them worms. They are so curious and filled with wonder. Kids love worms…kids of all ages!
Strike up a conversation with your kid’s teacher. Chances are, they will be excited about a vermicomposting project too.
You may need to donate some worms because budgets are so tight right now. But, what a great cause!
The students learn about environmental responsibility and conserving our resources. They may even learn about gardening. Remember, you are educating the future stewards of our planet. That makes me feel good.
There are organizations in school that need worthwhile projects. How about the 4-H Club? FFA? Some schools are even offering gardening programs that run through the Summer. These are all willing participants for a vermicompost project.
Where else can we share our knowledge?
A Garden Club Vermicompost Project
Nearly every community has a Master’s Gardening Club. Some may already be worm composting but many are not. Most of them will be receptive to a demonstration on vermicomposting. In fact, they will love it!
These people get it. They probably know more about growing and the Soil Food Web than you do. Master Gardeners understand the importance of healthy soil. They love gardening and are willing to try new concepts.
A presentation that explains the benefits of vermicomposting will be well received. Show them how to set up a worm bin properly and introduce the composting worms.
They will also want to know all about worm castings harvesting. Give them a demonstration. They will be an eager and ready audience.
The very best thing about Master Gardeners is that they share their knowledge. That is what they do. A good presentation here has a long-lasting effect. Go forth and teach!
Let’s wrap this up.
Vermicompost Project Summary
I talked about who should vermicompost. Nearly everyone. Anyone can raise composting worms anywhere. In your basement, under the sink, in a closet, outdoors (climate permitting), etc.
I have even seen coffee tables in the living room that were worm bins in disguise. No Kidding!
The process of vermicomposting was discussed. What it is and how it works.
The three reasons you should start vermicomposting today were revealed. They were:
- Diverting organic waste from the landfill.
- Creating worm castings
- Improving our soil health by becoming aware of the problems chemical fertilizers cause.
I talked about the importance of vermicompost AND organic materials in creating healthy, sustainable soils.
The disadvantages of vermicomposting are really just it’s scalability. An outdoor compost pile is a good overflow for excess materials.
We talked about good places to start a vermicomposting project. That was at home, in school, various organizations, and your local Garden Clubs.
In closing, we all need to do more to protect our planet and it’s soil. It all starts at home…one person at a time.
A vermicompost project is but one small step to begin the journey.
We owe it to our children and grandchildren to lead by example.