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Vermicomposting!

Vermicomposting!


| What is Vermicomposting? | Science Fair Experiment | More Links |


TEXAS HERE WE COME!
(a small note from the management)
After three years of hard work and dedication, we have earned the right to attend the International Science and Engineering Fair! It will be held in Fort Worth, Texas in May and we are glad to finally be a part of it!
Thank Yous:
From Kate: I would like to thank my partner, Yu-Sung, for all her work and support these last few years, as well as a friendship I will never forget. I would also like to thank our worms- all 2,000 of them, without whom our accomplishments would amount to a wooden bin of dirt. Thanks Wiggly, Gemini, Geminus, and the rest of them :-)
From Yu-Sung: Kate's been such a wonderful friend/partner, I can't thank her enough. She's been very understanding and we've shared much grief and stresses for three years. I love ya lots! I'd also like to get down on my knees and thank Kate's mom. (Actually the whole family.) They have helped with various emergency tasks, such as transporting the backboard, making us dinner, etc. Also, I'd like to thank the nice judge from UVA who encouraged us when we most needed it, right after the "shark" judge. Thanks a lot!


What is Vermicomposting?

Vermicomposting is simply composting using specialized worms to speed up the process of decomposition. The worms make a big difference. Most people would not believe how fast they can eat garbage, waste, scraps, etc.
It is a fast-developing way of controlling waste and has been the center of a three-year science experiment for us. We have experimented with many aspects of vermicomposting, including different materials that may be composted, different ways to speed up the process of vermicomposting, and the reproduction rate of worms in vermicomposting bins.
Besides being a very easy and reliable way of disposing of common household materials, vermicomposting is also a lot of fun.
How to Get Started
Maintenance
Odor Problems?


How to Get Started

First, you need a bin. A typical worm bin can be of any size or shape, depending on your need. Some common worm bins are large plastic storage containers, wooden boxes, even circular keg things. Whatever you decide to use, all worm bins must be equipped with certian things to make sure the worms live in a happy environment. The bins need ventilation holes on the top and bottom; these holes also help with draining water.
Second, the worms need bedding, which is like the dirt in which you might find worms living in your backyard. Worm bin bedding can consist of a number of different types of materials including: newspaper strips(non-colored newspaper only, peat moss, top soil, corrugated cardbord, etc. In our bins, we found a good combination to be: a layer of soaked newspaper strips on the bottom, a layer of peat moss(which first had to be soaked in water overnight to reduce acidity and then squeezed so that it was damp like a sponge), a few handfulls of top soil(which assisted the worms in digestion), and a final layer of damp newspaper strips. We also added pulverized egg shells as needed to reduce acidity. Many people keep worm bins in easily-accessable places, even under their kitchen sink!


Maintenance

Water: Worms breathe through their skin. Therefore, keeping the bin environment moist at all times is very important. The water to bedding ratio is 3 to 1 (by weight). The water you put in must be dechlorinated. This can be done by using distilled water, letting tap water sit out for 24 hours, or adding special drops that will eliminate chlorine. (these drops can be obtained at any pet store.)
Food: Each worm eats his/her weight in food a day so the ratio of worms to food is lbs of worms to lbs of food. There are many different things that you can feed the worms- anything organic from table scraps to yard waste, and even paper products, but the important thing is that they have a balanced diet of an assortment of foods.
Possible Foods Status
Fruits and Vegetables Good
Too much citrus fruit is not good for the worms and attracts pesky fruit flies, so be careful! Don't forget the worms like to eat the peels as well as the actual fruit. Our worms' favorites include cooked potato skins, oranges, banana peels and especially watermelon!
Bread and Wheat Products Bad
The worms are not able to eat these very fast and this usually results in problems for the worms. However, you can add them in small quantities occasionally, such as pizza crusts
Dairy Products Bad
Too much of dairy products is harmful to the worms.
Yard & Garden Waste Good
Grass clippings are especially liked by the worms, but they will eat any type of leaves or garden trimmings
Miscellaneous All good-
Coffee grounds/filters, tea and tea bags, oatmeal, deviled eggs, egg shells, potato salad, baked beans, grits, and a variety of paper/cloth products
Egg shells reduce acidity in the bins, so it might be a good idea to put them in after putting in citrus fruits

Harvesting: It is important to remove the worm castings every 4-8 weeks because they are actually toxic to the worms. There are many, many different methods of harvesting(which is, in layman's terms, simply extracting the humus from the bin). The method we use, is simply sorting through the bins and separating the castings/humus into one pile, bedding and food into another, and putting the worms in a small, temporary container until finished. Then, with old and fresh food & bedding, we put the worms back into the bin.


Odor Problems

Anyone would think that a pound or two of worms crawling around in decaying garbage would logically smell rather poorly. On the contrary, actually. The humus, or worm castings, actually smell sweet and, if your nose is sensitive to detect a smell at all, it is a very pleasant one.


Science Fair Experiments

Over the last three years, we have done science fair projects on Vermicomposting. Our projects have included tests as to what common, household materials can be composted by the worms, ways to speed up the process of vermicomposting, and proof for the theory that they can exercise population control. We invite you to take a look at our results so that they may help you, should you want to start a vermicomposting unit or already have one.
Effectiveness of Small Scale Vermicomposting: a Three Year Study



More Links!

Links: Links to many, many other great worm sites on the internet
Books: Find a bibliographical listing of books you can find about vermicomposting and worms
The Worm Girls: Learn a little about the makers of this page


E-mail the worm girls! Let us know what you think of the page or share some of your experiences with vermicomposting and worms with us! We love to hear from fellow vermicomposters!



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