How to make bags of vermicompost on your own
Vermicompost is a natural fertilizer made from the waste products of worms. It can be used in gardens, flower beds, and vegetable patches.
Vermicompost is a process where organic matter is turned into fertilizer for plants. The process begins when food scraps are mixed with worms and bacteria. Worms eat the food scraps and excrete earthworm castings which are then used as fertilizer. This organic compost is much cheaper than using chemical fertilizers and you can make them at an affordable price and it is much more eco-friendly.
The process of making vermicompost is simple but needs patience and some basic material for the preparation of vermicompost.
No matter what you are going to use it for, whether it's a garden or kitchen, you need to start with a healthy worm population. When choosing which type of worms to buy, look at the life expectancy and size of the worms. If you choose too small ones, they will die off after a few days while larger ones take longer. Surface-dwelling earthworms should be used. You should also consider how much food your worms eat as this will determine their growth rate and therefore how many cocoons they produce. There are many types of earthworms. Red earthworms, Red wigglers, African earthworms, composting earthworms, European nightcrawlers, and so on. The type of earthworms used will determine the production of quality vermi compost. Red wigglers are the commonly used earthworms for vermicompost.
You can grow your own worms by feeding them with dry leaves, grass cuttings, manure, garden wastes, and organic matter. These are a good food source for earthworms. The earthworms consume food half of their body weight per day. The bedding material creates a habitat for earthworms. A combination of bedding material for vermicomposting can be used. The best bedding material for vermicomposter is shredded paper. If you use newspaper, you should shred it first. Non-absorbent materials should not be used. It should not be contaminated with pieces of materials like metal or thorns. There will be problematic bedding materials.
The ideal temperature range for growing worms is between 15°C and 25°C. Worms like dark places so if you have an unused corner of your house then that's where you want to put your bin. Place a mesh on top to prevent the escape of earthworms. Cover the bin with moist straw or newspaper.
Do not keep it under direct sunlight. A good supply of oxygen is essential for the worms' survival. They don't like stagnant air, so ensure there are plenty of holes in the bottom of your bin and aeration control. Also, maintain a 60 -70% moisture level. Make sure there is no excess moisture or excess water. Moisture loss as well as exposure to sunlight will kill the worms. They require the perfect moisture level. The movement of earthworms will be towards the darker region. Don't overfill with organic matter so this will cause overfeeding of earthworms. Compression of bedding material will reduce oxygen availability to earthworms in the worm bins.
You can buy ready-made kits containing everything you need, including worms, composting material, and a bin. These usually come with instructions on how to set up the system. Alternatively, you can buy individual components separately online. For example, you could get a bag of worms, some compost, and a plastic bin. Then follow the manufacturer’s instructions for assembly. You can make your vermicompost in containers or as vermicompost beds as well. The containers are portable vermi compost units. The compost bed will have to be in a cool area. Ensure proper maintenance.
When the worms have eaten all the scraps leftover from the composting process, they will excrete castings (worm poo) which look like wet soil after the processing of waste materials. This is known as finished compost and can be added directly into your garden. To avoid contamination, add only a small amount at first. As your plants grow, you can gradually increase the amount you feed them.
If you're looking to create your own vermicompost, you'll need to find somewhere to store it. Bins work well because you can just empty them out when full. However, if you live in an apartment block then you may not be able to place one outside. Instead, try using a large container such as a wheelbarrow, a bucket, or even a laundry basket. Make sure the lid fits tightly and has no gaps. Do not keep it under direct sunlight. The bigger your vermicompost container, the more storage capacity you will require.
If you don't have any space to keep your bins, you can still make your own vermicomposter. All you need is a box or tray filled with moistened newspaper, dry straw, shredded paper or cardboard. Ensure good aeration windows. Place the worms inside and cover the top with more moistened paper. Check regularly to see if the worms are eating anything. Once they've eaten through the paper, replace the top layer with fresh paper. The movement of earthworms will be towards the darker region of the vermicompost beds.
Once your worms have produced enough castings, you can start adding these to your garden. Add a handful to each plant pot. Use only a small amount at the beginning, as you will probably need to water your plants every day. As your plants grow and develop roots, you can increase the amount of organic compost you give them. It takes about 60-80 days for preparation. Stop adding water a few days before harvesting or before a week of harvesting.
Steps to starting your vermicompost at home
1. Collect organic waste which is the food for earthworms.
2. Add it to fresh worm food bins
3. Cover it with moistened newspaper
4. Keep checking the bin daily and ensure proper aeration.
5. Check on moisture content from time to time.
6. Remove the worms
7. Wait until the worms stop producing castings
8. Add this organic compost to your garden
9. Water your plants regularly
10. Repeat this cycle and add fresh food materials from time to time.
How to make worm tea
Worms can be fed by drinking their liquid called "worm tea". It is made by soaking dried kitchen wastes in water and then boiling it. The resulting brew should be strained before being drunk. You can also use it to fertilize plants. It is used as a liquid fertilizer. It contains water-soluble nutrients. It can be used as a nutrient supplement for plants.
Worm tea contains bacteria and fungi that help break down food items. This makes it useful for treating diseases caused by parasites.
To make worm tea, soak about 1kg of dry kitchen waste in 4 liters of water overnight. Next morning, strain the mixture through a muslin cloth. Boil the liquid for 5 minutes. Strain the liquid once more through a muslin cloth. Allow the liquid to cool completely before storing it in airtight containers. Worm tea keeps for several months in the refrigerator.
Benefits of using vermicompost
Vermicompost is a great way to recycle organic matter into rich soil for plants. The process requires worms to eat food scraps, such as fruit peels, eggshells, coffee grounds, tea bags, etc., which they excrete through their digestive system. These worm castings are then mixed with soil and added to garden beds which is a great organic compost with good nutrient content. Worms also help break down plant debris, making them ideal for use in compost bins. It helps as a soil conditioner.
• Organic vermicompost improves soil quality
• Removing organic matter from household waste
• Producing nutrient-rich fertilizer
• Reducing odors
• Helping to prevent pests
• Creating a healthy environment
• Controlling weeds
• Promoting biodiversity
• Increasing crop yields
• Preventing disease
• Fertilising plants
Using vermicompost in gardens
You can add vermicompost directly to garden beds to improve soil quality.
You can also mix it with other types of compost to create a balanced mixture.
Mix it thoroughly with the existing soil.
Apply it sparingly at first.
Add it to the base of raised flowerbeds and vegetable plots.
Use it around tree trunks and shrubs and around the plant base.
When planting vegetables or flowers, place the seeds or cuttings in holes dug in the ground containing vermicompost.
Incorporate it into mulch beds.
Incorporate it into compost piles.
Add it to pots and planters.
Dr. Vandana K.