Sunday, May 31, 2009

Vermicomposting Tips for your Vegetable Garden

Vermicompost is the end result of organic matter being consumed by earth worms. Also commonly known as worm castings, vermicompost adds much needed nutrients to the soil that have been depleted with continuous growing seasons.

Every variety of worm creates worm castings; obviously. However the most common worm to be used in this process throughout the United States and Europe is called the red wiggler earth worm, the Eisenia foetida. It has been found that these worms produce the best vermicompost as compared to other worms and are the species of worm that should be used.

There are two great ways to create vermicompost and add it to your soil. One way takes a little more effort than another, but both can be implemented with great success.

For my own vermicompost, I like to use food scraps left over from meals. The red worms love this stuff and the end result of castings have done wonders for my own vegetable garden.

The first way and the easiest way to add vermicompost to your soil is to bury your food scraps in your garden. Get your self a Tupperware bowl (with lid) and as you have left over’s from your meals, coffee grinds from your morning coffee etc., add them to your Tupperware bowl. When your Tupperware bowl is full take it to your garden where you will dig a hole about one and a half to two feet deep and dump the contents of the Tupperware bowl into the hole. Cover the contents with dirt and you are done. The earth worms are already in the ground and they will find the food scraps that you buried.

Mark the spot with a stick so the next time you go to bury food scraps you aren’t digging in the same location. Then you simply repeat this process through the year. When it comes time to put you plants in the ground, mix your soil by turning it over with a pitchfork or garden tiller and you will mix in all the vermicompost that was created.

But what happens when the ground is frozen or the plants are in the ground, you surely can’t bury it then right? Yes that is correct, but that brings me to my second method and that is the use of a compost bin. A compost bin can be any type of container where you will add in some worms and put your food scraps in. Let me explain.

You can either build a compost bin or buy a generic Rubbermaid plastic storage container. Drill holes in the bottom for drainage, the sides and top for ventilation and you will have yourself a compost bin. Now add two inches of shredded newspaper to the bottom of your bin, then your food scraps, then another two inches of shredded newspaper, then finally your worms. You can get worms by digging in your garden or looking on your sidewalks and streets after a big rain storm. A couple dozen will do as your worm population will double about every 30 days.

Check the bin every few days and when there is very little food scraps left it is time to extract the vermicompost from the bin and start the process over. You can separate the worms from the compost manually by hand, but why do that when you can have them do it themselves. Instead of using the entire bin all at once to create vermicompost, only use half of the bin. When the half you are using is low on food scraps, start using the other half. The worms will move to the side where there is food, thus separating themselves from the vermicompost.

You might have a few stragglers left, but that’s ok, you can leave them in there and put them in your garden as well. Your worm population, like I mentioned earlier, will double in size every 30 days, so it is good practice to remove some of the worms every time you extract your vermicompost.

See how easy that is. If you start using both of these methods today, your soil could be full of all the nutrients that your vegetable garden will ever need, and you can stop buying those chemical fertilizers which offer no value to your soil.

About the Author
Mike is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person. It is a practical easy to follow book that teaches gardeners everything from composting techniques, aeration and frost conditions, to choosing the right tools and picking the right seeds.

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