Vermiculture2014 007Vermicuture is a great way to involve your children in building healthy soil. Besides helping Rhett and I make organic fertilizer (worm castings) , our kids get to geek out with hands-on-science, not to mention develop problem solving skills learned while watching worms recycle paper and turn their table scraps into soil.

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To maximize space, we use a store-bought “continuous vertical flow” bin system. It allows us to stack a series of trays on top of one another. Our worms migrate from tray to tray, finding the right environment to live in depending upon what life cycle/stage they are in and where we place their food. If the moisture or acidity levels are out of balance in one tray the worms can find refuge by moving to another area of the bin system.

Several years ago we purchased our worm bin, a handful of red wiggler worms and a small amount of peat moss to use as bedding for the worms. We haven’t spent a dime on our worms since then. They feed on our junk mail (no glossy paper though), apple cores, banana peelings, occasional coffee grounds and the salad greens that get left in our fridge a little to long. Our single flat worm house is now a multi-layer condo. Every summer we move handfuls of worms into our compost pile to boost its nutritional level and finish the composting process.

In addition to helping reduce kitchen waste, worm castings (or worm poop)  are rich in trace minerals and full of microbial life that lives symbiotically with plants. We collect the castings about once a month and store them in buckets until we can incorporate them into our seed starting mix, compost, or use them to top-dress fruit trees and garden beds. Worm castings added to the soil are rich in soluble plant nutrients and organic growth enhancing compounds, microbial life and a substrate of organic matter. They are a storehouse of nutrients that do not get lost to rain and irrigation. Plants grown in soil with worm castings get an ongoing, reliable food source, and it is an all-organic fertilizer that wont burn your plants!

For more information on Vermiculture, I recommend the following sites:

Wisconsin Redworms

Worm Farming Revealed

 

This is part 2 of a 5 part series on compost and healthy soil. Read the other articles here:
Part 1: “Building Healthy Soil with Compost

Part 3: “Fertile Soil
Parts 4 and 5 coming soon