Vermiculture vs. there really an advantage?

Boukmn(10b)November 2, 2013

I started to vermiculture three months back but I am really beginning to have doubts as to whether there is really an advantage over regular composing with a regularly turned compost bin.

These are the five reasons I am beginning to get skeptical:

1. Worms don't actually eat the plant material they eat the biota that actually do eat the plant material. My compost bin attracts a wide array of critters that actually do eat the waste and help break it down.

2. My experience here in Florida is my worm bin over heats in the summer forcing me to bring it inside where the fruit flies become a pain!

3. Worms help speed things up by turning and airing the does a regularly turned compost fruit flies.

4. Worms create worm tea...compost creates compost tea. Is there really a nutritional difference?

5. Vermiculture seems to take much more room proportionally than a compost bin since you have to spread it out to keep it shallow. The opposite is true for composing.

I'd like to be convinced otherwise. What IS the quantifiable advantage of vermiculture over composting?

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"is really an advantage over regular composing with a regularly turned compost bin."

The operative words there are "regularly turned". As an energy-saving being man-power (yours), vermicomposting is mans' best friend.

Also, that old "worms don't eat it, they eat the critters eating it" isn't true. They eat anything soft enough to be chewed on by a toothless creature...including the biology.

Put things soft, like cantaloupe and pumpkin, and melon in there and there is no decomposition delay until they become a squirming mass of uncontrollable excitement. And if you keep it coming, they remain in that state of wiggle.

That said, on a personal note, I was probably the worst compost-pile composter who ever seriously tried it. Then, 15 years ago I was hit in the head with "Worms Eat My Garbage", bought a pound of wigglers, and became a legend in my own mind.


    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 9:05AM
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In addition to the worms doing the work not the composter there is one other advantage. The worms leave the material in wee little bits, each one encased in a thin calcium coating. This gives vermicompost a distinctive pelleted, friable texture which plants like and gardeners love.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 11:20AM
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Personally, I don't think it should be a point of religion - do whatever you find works for you. Each have their advantages in different situations and it depends on the preferences of each person.
You might even consider doing both - have a large outdoor regular bin and a smaller bin or two for the worms. Bring the worms indoors during the hot season and cover with a layer of shredded paper, and feed them less to keep the fruit flies down (when there's less food, they'll just slow down, but shouldn't die - they'll wake up and hatch when you move them outdoors and go back to regular feeding).
Use the regular bin for bigger stuff that takes longer with the worms, and you can occasionally move stuff from the regular bin to the worm bin to finish things off and get the best of both. Given your climate, you can also add some worms to the regular bin when the hot season is over and the worms should finish the regular bin off 'in situ.' Combining may work very well for you.
But in the end, if you're happy with regular composting and worms don't work for you, nothing wrong with that.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 2:29PM
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As already stated,there isn't many advantages,more so prefferances but vermiculture works better where there is a consistant stream of small amounts of food waste and few leaves or paper goods.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 8:09PM
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How about this:
""Vermicompost, or composting using worms instead of heat, shifts the species of bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematodes as compared to thermal composting, and generally, worm-compost contains some extremely beneficial bacterial and fungal species that are in lower densities in thermal compost. The worms quite clearly enhance certain beneficial bacterial and fungal species. Worm compost is also generally much higher in protozoa, and often have quite complex aggregation patterns that result in a great range of food resources for the beneficial species in the compost""
from here:

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 3:19AM
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also the castings are encased in mucous..this mucous prevents nutrients from being washed away.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 6:29PM
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priswell(9 CA)

You have to do what works for you.

Me, I can start a pile on the ground, but at some point, I start thinking, "Hmm. Let me put some red worms in there.", and a new vermicompost pile is born.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 11:51PM
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Thank you for your responses and suggestions.

Based on those suggestions, I've redone my verm bin via a new plan to keep the bin indoors w/o the fruit flies.

Layer 1: Mix sifted compost with blender-processed kitchen veggie and fruit waste 50/50 (to prevent the kitchen material from heating).

Layer 2: The actual active worm culture.

Layer 3: 100% sifted compost (to keep out the fruit flies and provide a worm migration refuge should layer 1 begin to heat up).

This way, most kitchen waste, cardboard & brown paper bags goes with the yard clippings to the compost bin and comes to the worm culture later, sifted to get "finished".

To add new waste, I'll repeat the above process adding a new layer 1 and layer 3 as layers 4 & 5 respectively.

Any excess processed kitchen waste will be kept refrigerated till needed. A 1" layer of sifted compost certainly does keep out the fruit flies way better than a newspaper or towels.

To harvest castings, I'll use aquarium heating cables to drive the worms away from the surface, deep into the culture and scrape off the top layers.

Will post an update in a month. Thanks!

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 12:21PM
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The only problem you may run into is too much nitrogen in the bin. A lot will depend on what your compost looks like when you use it for bedding. If it is heavy on carbon, your method may be perfect. Worms love finished compost as a bedding/food blend. The question is how much food can you add to it before it goes out of balance. You will probably figure that out quickly enough.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 12:54PM
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Yes, perhaps 50/50 is too much in favor of fresh material. Maybe safer to do 25 fresh and 70 compost to be safe next 'round.

UPDATE11-10-13: 50/50 worked out just fine. I am now adding a single heaping handful of new, blended kitchen waste to a hole dug into one corner of the bin and re-covered with the upper layer of bin material for each bin. I have 2 bins 22" x 9".

Based on what I've been reading, the worm population should double in about 2 months so I'll feed them the same dose of new food every week for 4 weeks and double to 2 handfuls on the 5-8th week. Each bin started with about 400 worms each. I'm trying to figure out the optimum population/ weekly feed amounts the bins can take.

This post was edited by Boukmn on Sun, Nov 10, 13 at 14:52

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 1:45PM
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