Get dirty, have fun and grow more food with great gardening tips from real-life gardeners.
Composting is great, but producing your own vermicompost has even more advantages. Vermicompost is created in a compost-type environment that is dominated by worms. It’s not all worm castings (fecal pellets, O.K. worm poop) but the worms are in charge. I call them "The Overlords of the Underworld." Vermicompost is compost on steroids, more of everything in a concentrated package. Putting worms to work for you is easy once you understand a few simple principles.
The system I’m suggesting avoids the turning and watering of conventional composting as well as producing a more potent soil amendment.
Step 1. Fill your bin
With browns and greens or just browns if that’s what you’ve got. Wheat straw works great! If the pile heats up and partially composts the mass, that’s a good thing but not essential.
Step 2. Add vegetable scraps
No meat, dairy, animal products for best results. Fill by lifting a layer of the straw or leaves and burying the scraps in the pile. If you have big volumes from a large family or canning time then layer your scraps with dry brown material. Just don’t dump a five gallon bucket in one place in the pile unless you don’t care about odor. Remember, that stink is wasted nitrogen that could become the protein in the bodies of even more of your helpers. Plus it could upset the neighbors or attract vermin.
Step 3. Don’t turn the pile.
The dry brown material is insulating the mass of critters from the outside world. Once you create a core of black compost, start depositing the the food scraps out to the edges of the pile to encourage the core to expand. The worms will work their way out to near the edges, eventually leaving just a thin layer of brown insulation.
Step 4. Build it and they will come.
Once there is a some compost forming in the center of your pile, you can introduce red wiggler worms a. from the garden (might work), b. buy some red wigglers at the bait shop (probably too expensive) or c. buy a pound of worms online. d. All my worms came from the soil in my backyard twenty years ago. They just smelled a compost party and joined in.
Step 5. Keep it up!
You’ll attract sow bugs, bacteria and the usual composting crowd. The food scraps add and maintain the moisture and nitrogen needed. The browns supply needed carbs and cover. Keep adding layers of browns and food scraps throughout the season. Just keep it up and a thick black layer will form in the bottom of your pile. You can peek, just don’t disturb your workers.
Next we’ll talk about harvesting the black gold and keeping it going year-round.