Vermicomposting is an eco-friendly and highly effective method of transforming kitchen waste into a fertilizer for plants that is chock full of nutrients.
Using vermicompost helps to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills and also provides a sustainable and natural method for enriching soil. Vermicompost also promotes healthy growth in the garden or your potted plants.
As garden enthusiasts and environmentalists, we are excited to share with you – how to use vermicompost.
This compost is a fantastic amendment for different kinds of soils, and it’s especially beneficial for sandy soils that struggle to retain important nutrients.
Vermicompost, also known as worm castings or worm poo, is the end product of composting organic matter using worms.
The worms used to make vermicompost are called red wigglers. The worms break down the waste material excrete castings which are full of essential nutrients, which can then be harvested and used for various gardening purposes.
Vermicompost is Not Ordinary Compost
A distinguishing factor between vermicompost and traditional compost is the role of worms.
The worms quicken the decomposition process and produce castings that are richer in nutrients compared to regular compost.
How To Use Vermicompost
Once you have successfully created your vermicompost, it’s time to put it to use and reduce the need for chemical fertilizers.
One of the great things about vermicompost is that it is a renewable resource that can be produced at home.
Vermicomposting is a money saver too. You can reduce your reliance on chemical fertilizers and instead use a sustainable, organic supply.
Many garden stores and some organic farming supply stores also carry vermicompost if you don’t have the resources or you are still toying with the idea of making it yourself.
Using vermicompost can also lead to healthier plants with stronger root systems, which can help them better withstand pests and diseases.
Vermicompost can improve soil structure, leading to better water retention and drainage.
To effectively use vermicompost in our garden and indoor plants, we follow these simple steps:
1. Mix Vermicompost With The Garden Soil
Amend the existing soil by adding a generous amount of vermicompost to the soil. Spread a layer of the vermicompost over your soil and mix it in.
Aim for a mix of approximately 25-50% vermicompost with garden soil, judging the amounts based on your plant’s specific needs.
2. Use Vermicompost As Top Dressing
Apply a layer of vermicompost around the base of plants, ensuring that direct contact is avoided with the stems. Just push the vermicompost away from stems.
You can also mix vermicompost with other materials such as compost or mulch for added benefits.
Once again, use your hands to clear a path around the stems or trunks of plants.
This technique helps to retain moisture, suppress weeds, and slowly release nutrients to the plant roots.
3. Use Vermicompost As Potting Mixture
Create a nutrient dense potting mix for container plants by blending vermicompost with a high quality potting soil.
This combination can significantly enhance the growth of plants in containers.
Remember too that potted plants can be vegetables or herbs, both of which grow really well in pots. This is an ideal set up where space may be limited. You can still have your garden.
4. Use Vermicompost In Seed Starting Mix
Enhance seed germination and the growth of seedlings by incorporating vermicompost into the seed starting mix.
A mix of roughly 25% vermicompost with 75% seed raising mix is a good starting point.
This mixture will supply the seeds with more nutrients, giving them a healthy foundation for growth.
5. Use Vermicompost In Potted Plants and Ornamentals
When it comes to potted plants and ornamentals, we can also take advantage of the benefits of vermicompost.
Applying a topdressing of vermicompost every 15 days can provide your potted plants with a steady supply of macronutrients and micronutrients which results in a more robust foliage and vibrant flowers.
6. Use Vermicompost In Vegetable Gardens
For vegetable gardens and fruit-bearing plants, incorporating vermicompost into the soil not only provides more nutrients, but also helps to fend off airborne diseases and common plant diseases.
By creating healthier soil conditions, our plants are better equipped to resist infections and pests.
This ultimately leads to more productive harvests of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Using Vermicompost Or Worm Tea As A Fund Raiser
Okay, this is a little bit different but it worked brilliantly.
This is how to use vermicompost and compost tea as a fundraiser in a primary school.
Having worm bins at a school is a great way to introduce children to worm composting. The bins are easy to look after and children are quite capable of helping with day to day maintenance.
The bins do not smell. The fundraising part is selling the liquid fertilizer.
I have seen a row of worm bins outside a classroom, in a carpeted area, monitored by children aged 12 years, with great success and no smell or mess.
Selling the liquid fertilizer, also known as compost tea, was easy, as who wouldn’t want a cheap organic fertilizer for the garden?
This fertilizer is an excellent, nutrient packed solution that can be easily applied to the plants through foliar feeding or soil drenching.
Worm tea is a natural plant booster when diluted with water.
The children from the class brought in scraps from home to feed the worms. This involved the family at home, so even more benefits. At the same time that students were learning how to set up and run a small business and they raised money for the school.
This is a brilliant idea for any primary school. Many primary schools where I live now have their own vegetable gardens. A great way to get kids on board from the start.
Benefits Of Vermicompost
By using vermicompost, we can improve soil quality, promote healthy growth in plants and support beneficial organisms.
One of the primary benefits of vermicompost is its ability to provide organic material to the soil. This organic matter improves soil structure, allowing it to better retain moisture and nutrients.
As a result of using vermicompost, we can expect healthier root systems and more efficient water and nutrient uptake by our plants.
Vermicompost contains water soluble nutrients that are readily absorbed by plants which is important for sustained growth in plants.
The presence of beneficial organisms also plays a significant role in growing plants maintaining healthy soil. These microorganisms not only aid in nutrient cycling, but they also help suppress soil-borne diseases and pests.
Vermicompost acts as a soil conditioner, improving soil aeration, drainage, and overall structure.
This is particularly beneficial for plants that prefer well-draining soil or are susceptible to root diseases caused by excessive moisture.
In this process, we use worm bins to house earthworms that consume the organic waste and produce a natural fertilizer called vermicompost.
First, we need to choose a suitable worm farm or bin, which can be made from various materials such as plastic, wood, or metal.
The bin should have proper ventilation and drainage to maintain a healthy environment for the worms.
We can either purchase a ready-made worm bin or create our own using simple tools and materials.
Then add suitable bedding material, such as shredded paper, coconut coir, or peat moss, to provide a comfortable environment for the worms.
We then introduce the earthworms, usually red wigglers into the bin. These worms are excellent decomposers and can consume large amounts of organic materials.
Next, we start adding food scraps to the worm bin, such as fruit and vegetable waste, bread, tea bags, coffee grounds, and cereal.
As the worms consume the food waste, they produce nutrient-rich castings called vermicompost. This organic fertilizer contains various nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
Maintaining the worm bin is crucial for the success of the vermicomposting process.
We need to keep the worm bin moist but not overly wet, maintain proper temperature and pH levels, and ensure a steady supply of fresh food scraps for the worms.
Over time, the organic materials in the worm bin will break down into dark, nutrient-rich vermicompost. We can then harvest the vermicompost by separating it from the unprocessed materials and worm bedding.
Problems and Solutions in Vermicomposting
Vermicomposting is an effective way to turn kitchen waste into the dark, and crumbly material produced by worms as they digest organic matter.
We might encounter a few challenges along the way. In this section, we’ll discuss common problems and their solutions to ensure a successful vermicomposting experience.
If our vermicompost bin is producing a foul smell, it may be due to overfeeding or inadequate ventilation.
Worms produce waste, and if there’s too much food in the bin, it can start to rot and create an unpleasant odor.
To resolve this issue, we should reduce the amount of food we’re feeding the worms and ensure that the bin has proper ventilation.
Sometimes, flying insects such as fruit flies and fungus gnats can invade our vermicomposting bin.
To prevent this from happening, we can store fruit and vegetable scraps in the freezer before adding them to the bin.
This will help eliminate any eggs or larvae present on the scraps.
Covering the bin with a layer of moist newspaper will also help discourage pests.
If we find worms trying to escape the bin, it may be because the environment is not ideal for them. We should check the moisture level, pH, and temperature of the bin and adjust accordingly.
Worms prefer a damp environment, with a pH of 6.0 to 8.0 and a temperature between 60°F and 75°F (16°C to 24°C).
To maintain the right conditions, we can add worm bedding materials such as shredded cardboard, coconut coir or peat moss.
It’s normal for the decomposition process to take some time, especially at the beginning. However, if we notice that the process is too slow, we might need to add more worms to accelerate it.
Cutting food waste into smaller pieces and avoiding items that take longer to decompose, such as woody stems, can also speed up the process.
Using vermicompost is an excellent alternative to commercial fertilizers, as it provides plants with essential nutrients and beneficial microorganisms.
We can combine the vermicompost fertilizer with other organic materials like wood ash and worm tea to further enhance the nutrient profile and promote healthy plant growth.
Maintaining a proper environment, addressing pest issues, and feeding appropriate kitchen waste, such as fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds, and tea bags, will result in a thriving vermicomposting system.
This will help us produce “garden gold” – worm castings – that can significantly improve our plants’ health and the overall quality of our soil.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Ideal Ratio Of Vermicompost To Soil?
The ideal ratio of vermicompost to soil for most plants is typically around 10%-20% vermicompost mixed with the remaining soil.
This can be achieved by blending the vermicompost evenly with the soil, or by applying a thin layer of vermicompost over the soil and then mixing them together.
How Often Should Vermicompost Be Applied To Plants?
Vermicompost can be applied to plants as a top dressing every 2-4 months or whenever you notice your plants require a nutrient boost.
For pot plants, vermicompost can be blended with soil during repotting or mixed with potting mix for new plants.
Can Vermicompost Be Used For All Types Of Plants?
Yes, vermicompost is an excellent organic fertilizer for almost all types of plants, including vegetables, fruits, flowers, and decorative plants.
However, be cautious when using it with seedlings or plants that prefer less nitrogen, as excessive nitrogen can cause problems for these plants.
What Are The Benefits Of Using Vermicompost?
Vermicompost offers numerous benefits such as:
Improving soil structure and aeration
Enhancing water retention in the soil
Providing essential nutrients to plants like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium
Promoting the growth of beneficial microorganisms
Suppressing diseases and pests that affect plants
How Does Vermicompost Affect Plant Growth?
Vermicompost enhances the growth of plants by providing necessary nutrients, improving soil structure, and promoting a healthy ecosystem for plants to thrive.
The nutrients present in vermicompost are easily absorbed by plant roots, resulting in stronger, healthier, and more productive plants.
How To Store Vermicompost For Later Use?
To store vermicompost for later use, keep it in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight.
Place the vermicompost in a container with a lid and ensure some air circulation by making small holes in the lid or sides of the container.
Proper storage can help maintain the quality of vermicompost for an extended period, up to several months.
Overall, using vermicompost is a great way to improve the health of your garden and reduce your environmental impact.