Vermiculture is the process of cultivating worms in order to breakdown organic waste. In breaking down the organic waste, the worms excrete vermicompost, which is a great source of fertilizer that is environmentally friendly. The standard worms used in Vermiculture are earthworms or red worms (Eisenia fetida), although other worms such as Eisenia hortensis or European night crawlers and Eisenia Andrei.

Vermiculture worms
Photo by Spentrails

Vermiculture can be performed on a large scale or a small scale. Small scale Vermiculture is popular for households to get rid of organic waste and to produce compost for use in the garden. Small Scale Vermiculture can be performed at home by getting a plastic bin (desired) with aeration holes on the lid and a tray at the bottom to collect the excess liquid that is produced. Then add the worms, the organic waste, soil and your good to go. Keep adding the organic waste when you need to dispose it. The materials that should be added to the bin include eggs and egg shells, bread, vegetables and fruit scraps and coffee grounds and filters. Earthworms especially like coffee grounds. Even newspaper can be added to the worm farm.

Setting up a worm bin
Photo by Frankh
Decomposing will occur as the earthworms, along with bacteria and other insects aerate and fertilize the soil. It is important to keep the worm bin in shaded areas outside, to keep the temperatures at an optimal level for the worms to feed rapidly. Between 15-25 degrees Celsius is the optimum temperature. If the bin gets hotter than this, the worms may die out.

The main benefits for Vermiculture are that it is environmentally friendly and that is economical. From an environmental aspect, Vermiculture produces soil that is a naturally enriched fertilizer, with plenty of nutrients. The physical structure of the soil and its water holding capacity is improved. This means that plants are able to thrive, without the harmful effects that leached toxins can have from fertilizers that pollute the waterways. The soil is more longevity, as salinity becomes eliminated. Another environmental aspect is that incinerators used to get rid of the organic waste is minimized, therefore, the greenhouse gases that is produced is minimized. Economically, producing your own naturally enriched fertilized soil is cheaper than buying harmful chemicals to fertilize the soil. It also reduces waste in landfills.

Further reading and resources

Worm Farming: A Beginners Guide to Starting a Worm Farm
This is a good introductory guide about worm farming and how it relates to green living.

DIY Wormery Manual
The manual will teach you how to easily produce the super wormery compost from your kitchen waste that you usually throw away. You can use this to grow your own plants and vegetables. It will also show you how you can start your own successful home business by producing worm bins, and even includes designs for an expensive wooden "Bee-Hive" style wormery.

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