In the garden
Pet worms? Well, not exactly.
But those whose plants have benefitted from the rich vermicompost that worms produce are usually enthusiastic about having a plastic bin of these wiggly red creatures in their home. Vermicompost is a humus-like material that contains large numbers of worm castings produced when organic materials pass through a worm’s gut.
“It’s an alternative to conventional backyard composting,” said Henrico Extension Agent Karen Carter. “And it’s generally a faster process.”
Conventional composting depends on micro-organisms to break down organic wastes. Vermicomposting uses worms for most of that work. The worms are housed in a plastic “worm bin.” Carter periodically gives “make and take” workshops for people interested in trying the process.
“None are scheduled right now,” said Carter, “but if you’re interested, call the Extension Office, and we’ll put your name on a waiting list.”
To make a worm bin, drill air holes around the top of a 14-gallon plastic container, roughly 24 x 16 x 12.5 inches. Add roughly 4 pounds of shredded newspaper, a gallon of water, and 2 quarts each of coffee grounds and purchased bagged compost.
“We recommend the bagged compost,” said Carter. “With backyard compost, you run the risk of bringing in insects.”
Last, and most important, add a pound of worms.
“Be sure you get the right worms,” said Carter. “That’s critical because not just any earthworm will work. You need Eisenia fetida, the red wiggler worm.”
The worms are commercially available on line, or you may be able to get them from someone who is already vermicomposting. Periodically, the bins have to be divided both as a method of harvesting the vermicompost and because the worms can easily double in number.
“Harvesting the compost can be the most challenging part,” said Carter. “Some people use purchased systems rather than making their own because they can make separating the worms from the vermicompost a little easier.”
Worms can eat most fruits and vegetables provided they are not too salty or too acidic. Meat, dairy products, and fatty or greasy foods shouldn’t be given to the worms. Coffee grounds including the filters and tea bags also make excellent food.
“Make sure you don’t overfeed the worms,” cautioned Carter. Under optimum conditions, worms can process their body weight in food each day. Typically, however, they can’t quite eat that much, and overfeeding can create odor problems.
Carter recommends anyone interested in starting a worm bin look online at the Virginia Extension publication, “Composting Your Organic Kitchen Wastes with Worms.”
“It’s excellent,” she said. “But we recommend one slight change. Don’t drill drainage holes in the bottom of the bin. Not having them doesn’t turn out to be a problem, and sometimes having those holes in the bottom of your bin makes a mess.”
Without the drainage holes, a worm bin can be kept in the kitchen or basement, anyplace where temperatures don’t fall below freezing or go over 100 degrees Farenheit.
“Vermicomposting can be more convenient than backyard composting,” said Carter. “Plus, it’s an interesting process to watch, particularly if you have children and want to teach them about the natural world.”
Citizen Staff Reports 04/29/2016
Every week, another child is diagnosed with cancer in Central Virginia. Last summer, six-year-old Caroline Morris was one of them.
Diagnosed in June 2015 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common type of childhood cancer, Morris has been receiving treatment at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR) ever since.
“It’s not my hair that makes my beauty,” said Morris, who lost her hair as a chemotherapy side effect, “it’s my heart.” > Read more.
Citizen Staff Reports 04/25/2016
The sign up period for the Richmond Community Solar Co-op will close on April 30. Nearly 150 homeowners and businesses have joined the group to save money and make going solar easier. The group has started installations and is working with VA SUN to learn about solar technology and the process of going solar.
“If you’ve ever thought about going solar, this is a great opportunity to do so,” said Sekar Veerappan Co-op member and the group’s first installation. “Working with the group helps members learn about going solar and make an informed decision.” > Read more.
Another great weekend of outdoor activities awaits you in Henrico! Walk MS, an annual charity run for multiple sclerosis, and the third annual Movin’ & Shakin’ 5K, to benefit the VCU Parkinson’s and Movement Disorders Center, both take place in Innsbrook tomorrow. Another charity event, the CASA Superhero Run, will be held at St. Joseph’s Villa. On Sunday, live music can be found at Belmont Recreation Center, featuring the John Winn Quartet, and at Shady Grove United Methodist Church, where pianist Sylvia Cooper will be performing. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
- More News
Apr. 21, 2016Click here to read the print edition.
- More Entertainment
- More Obituaries
- More Community
- More Opinions
- More Sports
CalendarLakeside Avenue will present the bike festival Pedal & Gears starting at 9:30 a.m. The event will begin with a free family-friendly bike ride hosted by Bike Walk Northside. Riders… Full text