Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Home Vegetable Gardening: Vermicompost

It is something that I talk about in great abundance and that is vermicompost. Vermicompost is the end result of varieties of earth worms breaking down organic material. Their castings are what is called vermicompost.

Extensive studies have shown that adding vermicompost to your soil (more on that in a moment) helps improve it’s physical structure, enriches the soil with micro-organisms, increased of microbial activity by more than 20 times than other forms of compost, and improves your soil’s water holding capacity which leads to savings on water since you do not have to do it as often.

When vermicompost has been mixed in with soil, studies have shown that germination is a bit faster, plant growth is stronger and crops yield more. The root structures of plants are shown to be stronger than plants not grown in a vermicompost mix and the growth of roots are more defined.

The best way you can add vermicompost to your soil is by burying your food scraps and leftovers at least eighteen inches deep. When you do this, worms in your soil ingest the food scraps, and their castings create vermicompost. Most worms can eat as much as their own bodyweight every twenty-four hours. There is no need for you to run out and buy worms (unless you are maintaining a vermicompost bin) to add to your garden, although it will speed up the process. Worms live naturally in the soil under your feet and when you bury food waste they will find it.

By continually burying your food waste throughout the year in your soil you are constantly adding nutrients back to your soil and when it comes time to plant your vegetables, your soil will be ready with everything your plant’s need to grow and thrive.

I recommend keeping a Tupperware bowl with your food scraps until and not burying the contents until it is full or a slight odor begins to form. Don’t worry about the odor that is the bacteria breaking down the organic matter. Do not put a lid on the bowl as that will create an atmosphere for anaerobic bacteria and that is not what you want. Without the lid, oxygen is getting in and that gives you the aerobic bacteria which is much better.

Once the bowl is filled, dig a hole in your garden, dump the contents of the bowl into the hole and cover with dirt. Repeat this process picking a new spot in your garden, not repeating the same spot until every area of your garden has been accounted for with organic matter being buried below it. On a side note, never bury dog or human waste, or charcoal ashes in your garden. They are toxic to plants and worms. Cow and chicken manure are fine.

So before you toss out that leftover bowl of spaghetti into your trash can, consider feeding it the worms that live in your soil. They will thank you for it by returning to you wonderful vermicompost that your home vegetable garden will absolutely love.

About the Author
Mike is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the Rest of Us, available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and where ever gardening books are sold. For more vegetable gardening advice, Mike can be reached at his website:

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