Vermicomposting FAQs
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Vermicomposting: Frequently Asked Questions

Horticulturalist Robyn DolginRobyn topdresses the soil around tender plants with vermicast to give them a nutritional boost.
Q. What is vermicomposting?
A  Vermicomposting is the practice of composting with worms. Unlike conventional "hot" composting, it's a "cool" process in which the worms work in concert with other microorganisms to break down organic waste.

Q. What is vermiculture?
Vermiculture is the enterprise of growing worms.

Q. What is vermicast?
A  “Vermicast” is just a fancy word for worm manure, also called castings.

Q. What’s the difference between vermicast
and vermicompost?

A  Vermicompost contains small amounts of undigested organic matter mixed in with the worm castings. Those particles, referred to as "humus," will continue to break down in the soil and release valuable nutrients to your plants. What’s more, humus helps the soil hold water and makes the dirt feel soft and crumbly, which promotes root growth. Vermicast is concentrated worm manure, whereby the worms have reworked the organic material over and over. 

Q. Can I dig up worms from my garden and use them for composting?
A  The worms and nightcrawlers in your garden likely won’t be happy in a worm bin. They're soil dwellers. The best worms for composting are redworms (Eisenia fetida and Eisenia andrei). They’re litter dwellers. You’ll find them happily living in piles of old leaves or decomposing livestock manure.

Q.  How long do worms live?
A   Most redworms will live for about a year. They reach maturity in about 10 weeks.

Q. How many worms will I need?
Experts have figured out there are approximately 1,000 worms to a pound and on average, a pound of worms will consume about a half-pound of organic matter a day. When planning your bin, you can weigh your food scraps for a week and divide by seven to get a "daily average" of what you toss. If that sounds like too much bother, guesstimate. A cup of veggie matter weighs about 8 oz. Take it from there.

Another rule of thumb is to keep about a pound of worms per person in your household, ie. four people in your family, 4 lbs. of worms will likely keep up with your organic refuse. And because worms multiply quickly, if you’re patient, you can start with a small amount and grow the population to suit your family's needs.

Q. Where can I get worms?
We recommend looking for a local supplier. If you’re having problems finding a local grower, we can ship worms to you! Click here for ordering information.

Click here for the answers to more Frequently Asked Questions!