- Red wigglers or compost worms (2 handfuls or 2 bowls about ~500 breeding size of worms, about a pound including bedding)
- Worm cocoons & inoculum (for special order in a package)
- Worm castings or vermicompost (in a bag 1 gallon and in a pail 5 gallons)
- Featured plants this season: Purslane, Red clover blossoms, "Ruby streaks" mustard greens and Aloe vera
If you're interested in the science behind vermiculture-vermicomposting...
The plough is one of the most ancient and most valuable of man's inventions; but long before he existed the land was in fact regularly ploughed, and still continues to be thus ploughed by earth-worms. It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world…
Charles R. Darwin (1881) The Formation of Vegetable Mould, through the Action of Worms, with Observations on Their Habits.
All resources are finite except for organic wastes. A large amount of organic waste is found in the animal farming, horticultural, supermarket and food-processing industries such as breweries, tea beverage companies, apple and potatoe processors, mushroom farms, ethanol facilities, etc. Most of the solid organic wastes are often kept in the land disposal area for conventional composting processes before they can be utilized on agricultural land. Furthermore, they may also cause odor problems, transmit diseases and be a potential source of under-ground water pollution.
The main idea of transferring the green or organic waste as a source of protein through composting worm biomass is a part of a bio-regenerative ecosystem strategy. Bio-regenerative life support relies upon living organisms for food, oxygen and water. It is a part of a self-renewing system which depends on recycling and a close partnership between plants, animals, microbes and human beings. Bio-regenerative ecosystem strategy has a close relationship with organic waste management and is important for the sustainability of the ecosystem.
There are three important goals of vermiculture-vermicomposting. First: To reduce the quantity of organic waste as a part of waste management systems. Second: To produce compost worm biomass which has approximately 70% protein content and a low fat content of less than 10% that can be used as an alternative food for prawn, fish, pig and poultry farming in this new millennium. Third: To produce compost worm casts or vermicomposts that are valuable in promoting plant growth.
The compost worms
Eisenia andrei, a surface-feeding or epigeic earthworm or red wiggler, has been known to have broad potential for conversion of organic wastes into worm biomass with associated production of high-value plant growth media (termed vermicompost) using technology ranging from windrows to high technological continuous reactors. Vermicomposting uses composting worms as the main organism together with all-natural beneficial micro-arthropods and microbes in organic waste conversion.
The population growth of E. andrei is very fast. They can double their population through the production of cocoons (compound eggs) within 2-3 months under the optimum biotic and a-biotic conditions. They have a wide temperature tolerance and can live in organic wastes with a range of moisture content and pre-composting time.
The idea of using compost worm biomass as an alternative source of protein for fish and animal feed is beneficial in many ways. The mean amounts of essential amino acids recorded from the composting worm tissue are very adequate for good animal feed if compared with the recommendation of the FAO/WHO, particularly in terms of lysine, methionine, cysteine, phenylalanine and tyrosine. In addition to containing adequate protein content, earthworm tissues contain a preponderance of long-chain fatty acids, many of which the non-ruminant animals cannot synthesize. They have an excellent range of vitamins, are rich in vitamin B3 and provide a good source of vitamin B12.
Pharmaceutical materials such as lumbrokinase and fetidin can be extracted from composted worm protein. Lumbrokinase is a fibrin-dissolving enzyme that prevents hypercoagulation i.e. clotting of human and animal blood. Fetidin or eiseniapore is an antimicrobial peptides that are not hemolytic and are safe for the vertebrate immune system.
Compared to conventional composting with high temperature or thermophilic composting, vermicomposting is an aerobic process (living only in the presence of oxygen) with a relatively low temperature (mesophilic). The advantage of vermicomposting is that organic wastes can be broken down rapidly by compost worms which results in a stable nontoxic material called worm castings or vermicompost.
Vermicompost is different from common compost, mainly because vermicompost is richer in nutrients and microbial activity. It will make up the microbial communities which exist within the compost worm castings and play an important role in the production of plant growth regulators (plant hormones and fulvic/humic acids).
Recent research shows that vermicompost also has suppressive effects against plant pathogens. Vermicomposting is free from human pathogens and it has been proven safe for the environment and community.
Compost worm casts are an excellent all natural odorless plant food, which can provide remarkable benefits for your soils and plants such as:
• Improving soil condition (aeration, water holding capacity)
• Increasing soil fertility (slow release organic nitrogen and other nutrients)
• Strengthening fibrous root system
• Promoting vigorous plant growth
• Producing tremendous yield (flowers and fruits)
A consistent and interesting trend for trials with plants grown in container media show that the best response occurs when vermicompost constitutes only 10 – 20% of the volume of the mix. Our vermicompost is from green or organic waste and will contribute much to the development of your organic farming and gardening.
Vegetables and annual flowers. Line bottom and sides of plant holes or seed furrows with 1 inch of compost worm castings. Set seeds or plant in place and cover with soil. Side dress during growing season at a rate of 1 cup worm casting per plant once every two months.
Perennials. Apply 1 cup of worm castings into the soil above the root zone of the plant. Apply in spring, early summer and late fall.
Potted plants and seeds. Potting mix - use 1 part worm castings to 3 parts soil. For established potted plants - add 1 inch of worm castings to top of soil and mix. Repeat every 2 months.
Lawns. New lawns - apply 10 lbs. of worm castings per 100 sq. ft. into the topsoil and mix in grass seed and water well. For established lawns - distribute as top dress 10 lbs. per 100 sq. ft.
Casting tea. Soak 0.5 - 1 part of worm castings in 10 parts water for 1-2 days with aeration. Stir well, filter and water as usual. Casting teas are not only used to feed plants, and restore or enhance the beneficial soil microbes. They are also sprayed onto the foliage to control foliar diseases. Casting teas are excellent for flowering, fruiting or difficult to access potted plants. Repeat weekly.