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The Gentleman Vermiculturist
Why should I compost with worms?
- Our soils are rapidly degrading. The levels of organic matter decrease year after year and we are supplementing it with harmful fertilizers instead of using natural solutions, like worms, to rejuvinate soil. The worm's castings are the most amazing natural soil amendments.
- Organic waste sent to landfill is covered over and rots in the ground. In the ground it does not get enough oxygen and turns anaerobic. The leachate produced leaks into the local ecosystem where it can cause all sorts of damage.
- They are an excellent tool for teaching kids about recycling organic waste and the environment. What kid DOESN'T love getting dirty and playing with worms?
- Nutrients, including minerals and trace elements, consumed by the worms are reduced to their most usable form. The castings have a neutral pH of 7.0. The worms are actually refining the organic materials it consumes.
- Worm castings make soil more absorbent, making moisture more consistently available to plants and preventing soil from completely drying out.
- Worm castings are extremely beneficial in that they stimulate plant growth more than any other natural product, enhance the ability of your soil to retain water, and also inhibit root diseases such as root rot. Worm tea (made properly) can also help discourage harmful insects from your plants.
“It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organized creatures.”
- Charles Darwin 1881
Charles Darwin was fascinated by earthworm behaviour. He tested their intelligence, food preferences and sensitivity to noise, light and sound. His association and interest with earthworms came shortly after his famous voyage on the HMS Beagle. His uncle showed him a spot in his garden where he had spread ashes and lime several years before. Darwin was amazed to see how soil cast up by earthworms had buried the substances.
He went home and began a series of earthworm experiments that would go for the next 40 years.
Darwin published his findings in 1881 in a book titled The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms, with Observations of their Habits. The book sold 6,000 copies in its first year, selling faster than On the Origin of Species had when it was first published. It is the first scholarly treatment of soil-forming processes.
Who is the Gentleman Vermiculturist
I started my journey to worm farming by accident. We bought our first worm farm from the local Big Box hardware shop and excitedly put it together, soaked the coconut coir that was supplied as bedding and added the worms. Just as the instructions said. After that, we carefully fed and managed our new worm farm making sure it wasn't too hot and changing things as we learnt about our amazing new pets.
Then tragedy struck. The worm farm, affectionately named Frank, was getting close to full. I decided that if one worm farm was awesome, having more would be even better. So I put all of the worms into one layer of the worm farm creating massive overcrowding! Combined with the sweltering heat of summer meant that I turned the whole thing into worm soup. Now there is a stench I never want to smell again.
Instead of giving up completely, I began reading anything and everything that I could find on the fine art of worm farming. In short, I was hooked! As I learnt more and more about worms I was more and more amazed at what they could do and the massively important part of overall soil health they are.
From then on, I was all about worm farming. Family and friends were bombed with information constantly. Thankfully, for them, there is a heap of Facebook groups that are full of other worm farming evangelists.
Now, I'm moving on to provide as much information to both businesses and homes about how they can set up, manage and benefit from these absolutely amazing creatures.