Worms are awesome creatures.
Yeah, they might appear icky; boys love them, and they use them to taunt girls, at young ages. And sometimes, when older.
In gardening, worms serve a huge purpose. They’re part of a vast ecosystem of minute organisms that drive soil life. Yes, folks, your soil is alive, and if you have dead soil, then you have dead plants. Plain and simple.
Worms produce some of the best organic plant food/fertilizer in all of Mother Nature. Their abilities to convert materials into plant food is simply mind blowing. As a gardener, you can elect to raise worms, typically red wigglers (Eisenia foetida), Red Earthworms (Lumbricus rubellus), white worms, and earthworms; they’re a great way to process vegetable and fruit scraps, paper, and other products into a useful garden product called vermicastings.
Vermicastings (AKA worm castings) are worm poop; it’s waste, produced by the worms, with no additional organic material. It’s a rich, crumbly material that is very reminiscent of soil. Vermicastings contain high levels of plant nutrition and are ready to be used on plants immediately; this is the end result.
The vermicasting material is harvested by hand, from worm bins. It’s a messy job, sometimes a stinky job; after all, you’re playing with poop. However, for the benefit of your plants, it’s worth it.
Now, let’s take a step back. This entire process is called vermicomposting. Vermicompost is the process of using worms to compost a heterogeneous mixture of decomposing vegetable and food waste, bedding materials, and vermicastings. In addition to the worms, there also exist microbes and bacteria, which occur as part of the natural cycle of organic material.
Vermiculture is a vast process; in a world full of buzzwords and terminology, it’s important to learn what they mean.. I’ll try to explore it a bit more, in further posts.