What is vermicomposting?
It is the process in which composting worms are used to transform organic wastes into vermicompost/vermicast, one of the best known fertilizers to man.
What kind of worms are used?
In the Philippines, the African Nightcrawler is the best species to use. These worms are NOT found in your garden. Earthworms from your garden are anecic, or soil-dwelling and will not survive in a worm bin. The African Nightcrawlers are used as these are epigeic (live in decomposing organic matter) and adapt well to crowded and shallow worm bins.
Where do I buy them?
African Nightcrawlers are sold mostly online. When buying composting worms, make sure they come with enough original bedding to make sure they stay alive during delivery. As much as possible, you want to order from the nearest supplier. If you are in NCR, we sell worm starter kits HERE. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or text 09178900543 for inquiries. Meet-ups can be coordinated and additional fees for transportation may sometimes be added depending on the meet-up place.
How do I start vermicomposting?
First kit, make sure you have set up your worm bin. Add your preferred bedding and add a handful of “stabilized” soil or microbe rich material ex.(vermicompost, compost). Keep it moist (but NOT WET) and let the microbes colonize and moisture penetrate the substrate for at least a week. Neglecting this can risk losing all your worms at once. Alternatively, as mentioned, we sell kits that have been aged for a week or so prior to sale. After receiving your earthworms, you may add a light above the bin for a couple of days to discourage them from venturing out of your worm bin due to their sensitivity to light.
The Five Essentials
Worms need a place to live. Bedding is usually high in carbon to avoid overheating. Nitrogen-rich bedding can also be used if pre-composted very well. Bedding is also a source of food, but less nutritious especially if it is high in carbon. Examples include: newspaper, dried leaves, herbivores’ manure (MUST be composted VERY WELL to be used as bedding), composted corn cobs and husks, banana trunks, etc.
Though bedding is already a source of food, it lacks nutrients needed for your worms to thrive. These are usually high in nitrogen and nutrients. Examples are: Food scraps, manure (no dog or cat feces, only herbivores’ manure), coffee grounds, etc. In a bin with nitrogenous bedding, food is not required.
Worms breath through their moist skin and live on dissolved oxygen. Vermicomposting is aerobic, meaning with air. An anaerobic vermicomposting system (without air) will not allow them to breath, can cause foul odors and attract unwanted pests.
As said in number three, Worms breath through their moist skin. Keeping a worm bin moist is needed to keep them breathing. A dry bed can wipeout a population within days. Too much moisture, on the other hand, causes foul odors and sometimes even drown the worms if flooded. Worms are more tolerant of moist conditions. They thrive at 75-85% moisture content.
Your worms also need a container to live in. Commercial worm bins are available, but making your own/purchasing kits with a generic kind of worm bin is more economical and sensible. This can be as small as a plastic tub to a large concrete bed. It all depends on how many worms you are getting. A rule of thumb is 3000/m2 for optimal vermicomposting and 2000/m2 for higher reproduction rates. Wooden worm bins lined with plastic or tarpaulin are best due to its breathability, but won’t last forever.