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Help Worms Help Your Garden

by Jen Lyons and John Gorecki

It may be too early to plant those tender seedlings, but it’s a great time to turn ordinary dirt into rich nutritious garden soil that plants will thrive in later. A great way to start is to add vermipost to your garden. Vermipost is a type of rich organic material that is produced by worms. Vermiculture, the process used to create vermipost, is simple and inexpensive to do. One of the Greenfolks, John Gorecki, recently attended a one day workshop on vermiculture at Growing Power, Inc. Here are his answers to some frequently asked questions about vermiculture. What are the basic requirements to start vermicomposting? To start your own vermicompost you need the following things: • Worms • Soft food scraps • Microorganisms and green sand (a little goes a long way) • Semi-cured compost (you can substitute top soil or peat moss) • A bucket or pail with a lid In your container, first add a layer of compost to the bottom, then add a layer of food waste. Be sure to leave room at the top. Do not add worms at this time. Apply lid to container and turn upside down several times. Turn the container upside down twice daily. After about two weeks you have worm food. Add worms and top with more cured compost or topsoil to eliminate odor. Will any variety of worms do? No, if you want serious de-composting eaters, you will need a special variety of red worms called Eisenia fetida. You can order these through gardening catalogs or find a friend who will share theirs. I will have some at the May 3 Greenfolks Spring Kick-off Party. Do the worms need special care? Red worms like a warm, dark place to live. They thrive in worm bins when you feed them chopped up leftovers such as veggies, fruit, coffee grounds, and bread. Eggs and meat should not be used as they contain too many fatty acids and unwanted bacteria and cause bad odors. Citrus fruits should be used sparingly. Worms do not like light; do not leave your worm bin in direct sunlight. For best results keep worms at a temperature between 55-75F. Keep them moist, but not wet, as they breathe through their skin What are worm castings? Also known as vericast, worm castings are active humus containing good bacteria, enzymes, and remnants of plant material, not digested by the worms. The bacteria count of this black gold is higher than that found in the soil or what is in the worm. The acids in the humus help plants readily absorb nutrients. Why are worm castings good for plants? Castings slowly release nutrients and make them readily available. That is mother nature at her finest. John will be at the Greenfolks Third Annual Spring Garden Kick-off Party on May 3 to demonstrate the finer points of vermiculture and answer more questions. He will also have worms, enzymes and green sand available to gardeners who would like to start their own vermipost. For more information, please call Jen Lyons at 265-4654 or e-mail: . Riverwest Currents – Volume 2 – Issue 5 – May 2003
by Jen Lyons and John Gorecki