Vermiculture (Worm Farming)

Vermiculture is composed of two Latin Words; "vermi" which means worms and "cultura" which means to culture or farm. Therefore vermicuture means worm farming or the management of worms.

Vermiculture invoves the stabilization of compostable organics under controlled conditions by particular worm species and microorganisms under mesophilic temperatures. Basically compostable organic material (food scraps, garden residual, grass clippings,etc...) are loaded into the vermiculture unit where they are "eaten" by the worm population.

Worms convert the fresh materials into vermicompost (vermicast), a brown soil-like material that is produced after the organic materials have passed through the digestive system of a worm. This material is rich in soil nutrients.

Meet Our Workers

Red Wigglers (Eisenia fetida)

Red Wigglers are also known as manure worms, trout worms, tiger worms, and other names. Red Wigglers are epigeic earthworms, meaning they live on the soil surface. They are non burrowing and live within 12 inches of the earth's surface. They are tough and hardy and can consume half their body weight in organic material daily.

European Night Crawlers (Eisenia hortensis)

ENC's are also know as Giant Redworms and Belgium Worms. They were introduced into the US and Europe in the late 1990s. Not ony are they used for vermicomposting but they can be used for fishing. ENC's have been used for ice fishing and have been found to be still active on the hook after 30 minutes in water under 18" of ice.

Components of a Vermiculture Unit

Whether a large commercial operation or a small home bin the vermiculture unit consists of four main components:

  • Container - houses the bedding and worm population so they can consume organic materials loaded into the unit. The container protects the worms from the elements and predators.
  • Worm Population - necessary to convert the compostable organic materials into a vermicompost that can be used as a soil conditioner.
  • Bedding - a material placed in the container to protect the worm population from temperature and moisture variations. The bedding could range from manure to shredded newspaper.
  • Source of Food and Mositure - this is applied to the surface of the bedding.

The Science of Vermiculture

Processing of compostable organic materials via vermiculture is an aerobic (oxygen using) process performed by worms and microorganisms.

After organic materials are loaded into a vermiculture unit, bacteria, fungi, and other organisms start to decompose (eat) them. Worms scavange and eat the microorganisms and the decomposing products (i.e. suagrs, proteins, and simple carbohydrates) released by the microorganisms.

The organic material travels through the worm's digestive system and the end-product is vermicompost (aka worm castings, worm humus, or worm manure).