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Compost Red Wrigglers

Worm composting (vermicomposting) creates exceptionally good compost in a relatively short time.

Vermicomposting at home is far more sustainable than purchasing compost, which requires environmentally harmful plastic packaging and transportation.

Vermicomposting typically uses red wigglers, a small, tough, adaptable worm with a big appetite and a rapid reproductive cycle. A pound of red wigglers can chomp through approximately half a pound of food per day, and as the population grows, this rate should increase.

The primary advantage of vermicomposting is that the material produed is superior to regular compost (I’ve found that worm compost boosts the yields of fruit and vegetable plants and makes all plants lusher and healthier). Another significant advantage is that it can be done by people living in apartments or condos who don’t have any outdoor space (a well-managed vermicomposting system is not messy or smelly).

The main disadvantage of vermicomposting is that worms are temperature-sensitive, so you can’t just place a worm composting system anywhere. Red wigglers will die in freezing temperatures or if they get too hot, and at temperatures below 15 degrees Celsius they become less active and productive. They do best in conditions that are comfortable for people (a temperature range in the early 20s).

There are plenty of worm composting systems available for purchase, as well as instructions for making your own. Items that can go into a vermicomposting system include fruit and vegetable scraps (except citrus), teabags, coffee grounds and filters, egg shells, non-diseased plant cuttings, dry leaves, paper, and cardboard. You can even feed worms paper with glossy or colored inks, so they’ll eat up your junk mail.

Worms can also eat grains and legumes such as bread, rice, pasta, and beans, but these should be used sparingly. Worm composting works faster if food scraps are cut into smaller pieces and paper is shredded.

Vermicomposting takes a bit more attention and skill than regular composting, but it’s very rewarding in terms of sustainability and the production of superior compost.

Munro, G., Manual of On-Farm Vermicomposting and Vermiculture, Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada, n.d. http://www.organicagcentre.ca/docs/vermiculture_farmersmanual_gm.pdf

The Greater Victoria Compost Education Centre, Vermicomposting: Composting Indoors with Worms, n.d. http://www.compost.bc.ca/learn/factsheets/2vermicomposting.pdf

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