Composting is a technique used to take advantage of organic household waste to produce compost for the garden and orchards. In this article we will teach you the technique of vermiculture at home; a efficient and fast way to take advantage of some waste and have a more environmentally friendly home, with sustainable gardens.
Waste can be classified into organic and inorganic. In the first group are biological waste. That is, those that once had life, such as the peels of fruits, vegetables and the remains of food preparation.
On the other hand, there are inorganic waste, composed of non-biological waste that comes from industry or non-natural processes. For example, food packaging, plastics, paper, glass, synthetic fabrics, cans, and cardboard.
It is estimated that in a home, around 45% to 60% of the waste is organic. Therefore, they can be used through composting so that they have a longer cycle, in which they deliver nutrients to the land and are beneficial for the cultivation of ornamental or food plants.
What is vermiculture?
Vermicompost, vermicompost or earthworm composting It is an agricultural technique that consists of raising worms for the production of organic fertilizer, known as humus. The worms transform organic waste, with the help of microorganisms, into simpler compounds that are beneficial for soils.
In the world there are hundreds of varieties of worms. However, only some are suitable for vermiculture at home. The most commonly used species are the Californian red, the red and the European nocturnal. However, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) points out that the most common for commercial use is the Californian red worm or Eisenia foetida.
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To carry out this type of composting, a special container called vermicomposter. It can be located in any corner of the house or apartment. As it is a closed container, there is no risk of leakage of worms, organic debris or foul odors.
As a product of the process of composting with worms, a dark substance (humus) is obtained that can be found in a solid or liquid state. It contributes multiple nutrients to the soil, such as nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. Humus can be applied mixed with water.
Materials needed for vermiculture at home
In cities, large spaces are scarce. Some people have large terraces, balconies, or patios. However, most have small apartments.
However, this is not a difficulty in making vermicompost. Regardless of whether you live in a rural area with green areas or in a small apartment, you can apply this technique to take advantage of organic waste.
You can buy them in an agricultural products store or large veterinarians. Typically, they will sell you the Californian red worm. Do not try to extract worms from your garden or from those used as bait for fishing, as they may not work the same way.
The Californian red worm is very agile in its diet and every 24 hours it consumes its own weight in organic matter. Therefore, it requires high concentrations of residues. Similarly, it needs low light conditions to survive and reproduce.
Straw, dried grass, coconut fiber, newspaper or cardboard strips without colored dye
There are a number of bedding options that will provide a suitable environment for worms. This must be a little damp. However, the same waste can take care of wetting the material of your choice.
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A publication of the Bogotá Mayor's Office in Colombia indicates that, among the foods that can be offered to worms, are fruits, vegetables, eggshells, coffee pulp, grains and cereals, residues of the pruning of grass and plants, paper and cardboard without ink (or with ecological inks) and horse or cow manure.
Although worms are capable of eating all fruits, it is better to avoid an excess of those acidic, such as orange, pineapple or lemon, because they can irritate them.
Similarly, it is advisable to avoid strong spices such as pepper, curry or chili. On the other hand, to avoid bad smells, do not give meat, fish or dairy residues or pet excrement.
It is a device that will allow you to compost and collect humus, a dark liquid that worms produce and is beneficial for plants. The best thing is that it is a natural fertilizer. As vermiculture at home is an increasingly popular technique, you may find ready-made containers online.
Nevertheless, it is also very easy to do it by hand. For this you will need 3 or 4 dark trays or containers, a tap and a lid for one of the trays.
Then you must form a tower with the containers, one on top of the other, but with space in the middle to put the waste. Each of the trays, except the base one, should have several holes at the bottom, about 4 to 8 millimeters.
Likewise, a tap must be installed in the base tray, which will serve to drain the liquid humus that is contained. It is advisable to make a base to put the vermicomposter. The number of trays you choose depends on how much compost you want to get and how quickly.
Step by step for vermiculture at home
When vermiculture at home the most complex process will be to assemble the composting container. Afterwards, the operation is almost automatic and the worms do their job without requiring much attention or care.
1. Prepare the composter for your worms
After having a suitable composter, like the one we have described in the materials, it is necessary create an ideal ecosystem for the development of worms. In this regard, a bed should be formed with the material you have chosen.
This bed should be moist, but not flooded. In addition, it must allow air flow. Initially, it is done in the second tray from top to bottom. In the case of having 3 trays, it will be half.
2. Enter the worms
After having the adequate bed you must enter the worms. They will come mixed with soil or some fiber. The number of worms will depend on the size of the containers you have.
For a homemade composter, 1/2 pound or 1 pound is enough. However, where you buy them they can better advise you with the optimal amount for your container.
3. Take care of and feed the ecosystem
After having the bed reinforced and the worms ready to work, you must bury the organic matter that will serve as food. An easy way to calculate how much food to bring in is by taking into account the number of worms. This way, if you entered 1 pound of worms, 1/2 pound of organic content will be enough per day.
4. Collect compost or humus
You must do a weekly monitoring that allows you to see in what state the composting is going. When the first tray that you filled with the litter, organic material and worms is full, you should prepare an ecosystem in the tray above. The worms will use the holes to climb up and look for the organic matter on the next floor, without having to move them.
The initial container will be filled with organic compost. With the help of gloves you can collect it to mix it in the earth. Also, in the lower tray you will find the liquid humus, which you can drain with the help of the tap that you installed.
Follow the instructions for vermiculture at home
If, after knowing the recommendations and techniques, you have decided to do vermiculture at home, it is important that you follow the recommendations so that the organic material is degraded correctly.
Likewise, in many cities and municipalities there are public service organizations that facilitate and provide advice on home composting and recycling.
You should know that, to maintain a balance of nutrients in the vermicompost, the worms must be fed with a diversity of organic material. Eggshells offer calcium and are crushed. Green leaves help increase nitrogen. Brown grains, bread, and food promote phosphate production.
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About The Author
Catherine A. Johnson