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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

photo.jpg 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.

photo.jpg Dave - Worms hatching from eggs.

 

20 Day Time Lapse of Vermicomposting

photo.jpg Gregor Skoberne - Worms At Work - 20 Days Time Lapse Of Vermicomposting

 

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