Happy New Year!
It's that time of year, when many of us are setting our new year resolutions. If one of your resolutions is to be more green in 2018, well then we have news for you -- it's easy! Jump start your resolution by composting, particularly vermicomposting. Not sure what vermicomposting is or how it differs from traditional composting? Well, you've come to the right place!
Definitions of Vermicomposting and Composting
Vermicomposting uses composting worms -- such as red worms -- to break down organic wastes into castings, aka black gold or worm poop. Currently, vermicomposting is a growing effort that has shown great innovation and scaleability.
Traditional composting typically consists of putting waste into a pile located outside, and using an aerobic process to break down the waste. The piles are often left untouched and can take seasons to break down.
Vermicomposting vs. Traditional Composting
- Less Labor Intensive: When we say "organic materials," we mean the following waste can be added: food, leaves, grains, and natural cloths (such as cotton). In traditional composting, you need to stock pile in preparation for the next "batch." Vermicomposting, however, is less labor intensive, as it requires little turning/aerating necessary because the worm activity helps to mix, fragment, and aerate waste.
- Great for Both Small or Large Spaces: In addition, vermicomposting does not require as much space as traditional compost piles. It only requires a bin approximately 8 to 16 inches deep with 1 to 2 square feet of surface area. This means they can be contained in something as small as a Nature's Little Recyclers Mini-Bin, a five-gallon bucket, or a twenty-gallon bin, and thus creates the ability to have indoor systems. And when vermicomposting outdoors, the space used can grow as large as the Herdsman can feed the worms.
- Can Be Done Year Round: Weather is a key factor in composting. Traditional composting methods slow down in very cold weather, but vermicomposting allows for true year round composting. Since vermicomposting can be done in indoor spaces, it is spared any inclement weather and can be done year-round. With the ability to continuously feed, Nature's Little Recyclers can feed their outside vermicomposting systems year round through innovative practice.
Earthworms are great additions to the composting process because they are the workers nature put in charge of the process. In a way, they are environmental engineers, capable of transforming the soil they live in. Worms can select certain microorganisms to thrive, while eliminating others. This allows for the elimination of pathogens quickly and naturally. In this, they produce a vast array of natural plant growth hormones, enzymes, and many other complicated substances that serve plants and animals in ways we are just beginning to understand. This alone gives vermicomposting an advantage over traditional composting.
Benefits of Worm Castings
In the final product of vermicomposting, worm castings supply healthy organic matter, thus
- creating a better plant root environment and improving soil structure and porosity,
- increasing the moisture holding capacity of light soils,
- reducing bulk density of heavy soils,
- reducing water loss and nutrient leaching,
- improving moisture retention, and
- providing a barrier against climate change.
At the end of the day, its important that we compost in any way we can. But if you are starting a new system or seeking to improve your current composting operation, consider vermicomposting for a better experience and end product.