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JJ the Gardener posted a topic in Soil, Compost, Vermicompost & BiocharNatural farming section Indoor gardening environment Biochar Compost extract & Compost teas Vermiculture & Vermicompost, worm castings - Part 1 Vermiculture & Vermicompost, worm castings - Part 2 Soil recipe Vermiculture & Vermicompost Part 1 Vermicomposting is a quick, efficient way to convert kitchen scraps into a rich soil amendment using composting earthworms that break down organic matter into worm poop known as worm castings. A very valuable commodity. The following information is compiled as to enable you to have the ability to successfully raise worms and harvest their castings. It is extensive as to account for most situations and interest levels. If this compilation is helpful to you, please support those in the credits directly. Worm castings are a rich source of plant growth hormones, humic and fulvic acids along with nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, calcium and magnesium (dependent on feed stock) with microbiology which enables ready to use nutrition for the plant and the soil web. Worm castings are rich in essential plant nutrients and many beneficial microorganisms in a fully stabilized organic soil amendment. Worm castings will not burn your plants and is excellent for starting seeds. PH is near neutral. Increases germination rates due to its growth hormones. Assist in reducing transplant shock. Plants grow strong roots and helps during periods of plant stress. Assist in raising the brix levels of the plants. Works to create healthy a soil web which can reduce plant pest. General Worm information geobeats - 10 Little Known Facts About Earthworms Worms bins and castings do not have a foul odor, smells like a forest soil. Worms can be kept indoors year round. Utilize kitchen scraps and garden waste. Feed regularly at around one half pound of food scraps per pound of worms per day. Do earthworms have eyes? No, instead they have receptor cells that are sensitive to light and touch. These cells allow earthworms to detect different intensities of light and to feel vibrations. They will move away from light, if they can. If earthworms are exposed to light for too long (about an hour), they will become paralyzed and die when their skin dries out. This is often the reason after a rain you can find dead worms on the sidewalk, bad timing with the morning light. Can earthworms smell? They do not smell like we do but earthworms have chemo-receptors in the anterior region that react to chemicals. This is how they can detect food and other environmental aspects. How do earthworms breathe? They do not have lungs; instead, they breathe through their skin. Their skin needs to stay moist to allow the passage of dissolved oxygen into their bloodstream. They coat their skin with mucus and need to live in a humid, moist environment. If the environment is to wet the they cannot breath effectively or at all. This is why in part in worm bins to ensure drainage. If I cut an earthworm in half, will it regenerate into two earthworms? No. The half with the earthworm’s head can grow a new tail if the cut is after the segments containing vital organs. The other half of the earthworm cannot grow a new head or the other organs needed to sustain the earthworm. Which end is the head? The head is at the end closest to a swollen band encircling the earthworm. How do earthworms eat? They have tiny mouths and no teeth.. An earthworm will push its pharynx (throat) out, grab microorganisms and little bits of organic matter, and pull them into it’s mouth. The food is coated with saliva, pushed down the esophagus into the crop and on to the gizzard, where it is crushed and ground apart. Next, it moves into the intestine, where food is broken down more by digestive enzymes. Some of the food is passed into the bloodstream for use by the earthworm and the rest passes out the anus as castings (worm poop). This is why introduce "grit" to the worm bins as to help them eat and process the food internally. What is the swollen band near the head called and what is it for? It is called a clitellum and it contains eggs and sperm for reproduction. How do earthworms reproduce? Earthworms are hermaphrodites, so individuals have both female and male reproductive organs. They mate by joining their clitella and exchanging sperm. Each earthworm will form an egg capsule in its clitellum and pass it into the vermicompost 7 to 10 days later. The egg capsule is golden-brown colored and looks like a tiny lemon the size of a match head. Two to seven Eisenia fetida babies will hatch from an egg capsule in 30 to 75 days. Can you vermicompost in cold climates? Yes! However, to actively eat and reproduce, Eisenia fetida (red wigglers) needs their environment to be between 59 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Worms Hatching. Dave - Worms hatching from eggs. 20 Day Time Lapse of Vermicomposting Gregor Skoberne - Worms At Work - 20 Days Time Lapse Of Vermicomposting Composting Worms and sources Finding suitable worms for vermiculture. It takes one pound of worms (1,000 individuals) to start a good-sized compost bin. You may find redworms near compost, under rotting logs or similar decomposing situations. You won’t be able to tell the difference between Lumbricus rubellus and Eisenia fetida. Composting worms can be purchased either locally or order via the Internet. If a shop cannot tell you the scientific name of the worms do not purchase. Worms suitable for vermicompost are from the epigeic class of worms. Eisenia fetida - Red Wigglers Eisenia Hortensis - European Nightcrawler Eudrillus Eugeniae - African Nightcrawler Lumbricus rubellus - Red worms, often confused with red wigglers or Eisenia fetida Amynthus Gracilus - Alabama Jumpers Attracting compost worms & a worm barrel update... Rob Bob's Backyard Farm & Aquaponics - Attracting compost worms & a worm barrel update... 4 Different Kinds Of Composting Worms Larry Hall - Why Am I Raising 4 Different Kinds Of Composting Worms? Well Let Me Tell You Why! Feeding worms Once the earthworms have settled into their new home (after a couple of days) Add a small amount of food scraps on the surface of the bedding. The amount should not exceed 1-inch high. This will prevent the food scraps from building up heat which is detrimental to the worms. Feed your earthworms any non-meat foods such as vegetables, fruits, crushed eggshells, tea bags, coffee grounds, shredded paper coffee filters, and shredded garden debris. Red wigglers especially like cantaloupe, watermelon, and pumpkin. Do not add citrus fruits or fruit peels to the bin They can cause the bin environment to become too acidic. Never add meat scraps or bones, fish, greasy or oily food, onions, garlic, fat, tobacco, citrus, salty foods, or pet or human manure. They can bring in pathogens and attract pests. Chop or blend food scraps into small pieces so they break down easier. This is not necessary but will help the food stock become consumed faster. Once you have fed your earthworms, use a three-prong garden tool to cover the food scraps completely with 1 to 2 inches of bedding to prevent fruit flies from finding the food. Food scraps can be stored for a few days before adding them to the worm bin. Store in container with a lid next to or under their kitchen sink. Coffee containers are excellent. Food scraps can also be stored in a container or bag in the freezer. The worms may be fed any time of the day Earthworms can be fed as seldom as every two to three weeks, depending on how many earthworms are in the bin. If you are going away for a couple of weeks, apply 1⁄2-inch layer of food scraps and cover it with two inches of moistened, shredded paper. Manure can be used but is recommended to compost it first. Non composted manure can be used but it can make the worm bin to hot. Worm Chow Recipe by down to the roots. Adding a spoonful of this sprinkled over the food stock will ensure a balanced and healthy nutrition for your worms which ensure quality castings. Think quality in and quality out! 1 Part-Whole Wheat Flour 1 Part-Corn Meal 1 Part-Ground Oats 1/2 Part-Ground Oyster Shell/Egg Shell - Eggshells need to be cleaned and dried before using. Feeding composting worm bins video section DownToTheRoots - How I feed my composting worm bins. Homemade dry worm food (Worm Chow) DownToTheRoots - Homemade dry worm food (Worm Chow) Processing eggs shells for worm bin DownToTheRoots - How I process egg shells for my worm bins. Utilizing fish manure. Home Farm Ideas - What to feed worms Worm Slushies Rob Bob's Backyard Farm & Aquaponics - How we feed our compost worms, worm slushies anyone ? Harvesting the Vermicompost You may harvest the vermicompost by one of three methods After a few weeks, you will begin to see vermicompost on the bottom of the bin. Vermicompost is soil-like material containing a mixture of earthworm castings (feces) and partially decomposed bedding and food scraps. In about four months, it will be time to harvest the vermicompost. : Method 1: Sideways Separation. Feed the earthworms on only one side of your worm bin for several weeks, and most of the worms will migrate to that side of the bin. Then you can remove the vermicompost from the other side of the bin where you have not been adding food scraps, and add fresh bedding. Repeat this process on the other side of the bin. After both sides are harvested, you can begin adding food scraps to both sides of the bin again. Method 2: Light Separation. Empty the contents of your worm bin onto a plastic sheet or used shower curtain where there is strong sunlight or artificial light. Wait five minutes, and then scrape off the top layer of vermicompost. The earthworms will keep moving away from the light, so you can scrape more vermicompost off every five minutes or so. After several scrapings, you will find worms in clusters; just pick up the worms and gently return them to the bin in fresh bedding (with the old bedding mixed in). Method 3: Vertical Separation. Before you begin vermicomposting, either buy a manufactured stacking bin or make your own. Set one bin aside and vermicompost in the other bin for a few months. When the bedding in the bin fits snug against the bottom of the bin you set aside, simply fit the second bin inside the first one, and begin only feeding in the top bin for the next several months. Most of the earthworms will move up into the upper bin to eat, and eventually the lower bin will just contain vermicompost. Be on the lookout for earthworm egg capsules; they are lemon-shaped and about the size of a match head, with a shiny appearance and light-brownish color. The capsules contain between two and seven baby earthworms. Place the egg capsules back inside your bin so they can hatch and thrive in your bin system. Vermiculture & Vermicompost, worm castings - Part 2 Natural farming section Indoor gardening environment Biochar Compost extract & Compost teas Vermiculture & Vermicompost, worm castings - Part 1 Vermiculture & Vermicompost, worm castings - Part 2 Soil recipe