July 2, 2015

Vermiculture Tips

Here are some vermiculture tips that I practice at home.

Vermi Tip #1: Use rice wash to water the bedding.

Maintaining 70% - 90% moisture in your earthworm bedding is necessary for the survival of African Nightcrawlers. Using rice wash to water the bedding helps maintain the required moisture content. Rice wash also contains plenty of microorganisms that help in decomposing materials in the bedding.

So, next time you cook rice, use the rice wash to water your earthworm bed.

Vermi Tip #2 : Adult African Nightcrawlers (ANC) weigh on the average 1 gram per worm. Thus, a kilo consists of about one thousand (1,000)earthworms.

Vermi Tip #3:  Using Orchid Clay Pots to Catch Earthworms

To capture meandering African Nightcrawlers in your garden, use orchid clay pots as a container for worm food. Orchid clay pots have several large holes that give easy access to worms.
Place the pot with worm food in a location that shows recent worm activity. Moist granular soil is a good indicator of worm activity. Make sure that the bottom of the pot makes contact with the soil. Wait 3 to 5 days. Empty the pot and sort out the worms. After sorting out the worms, return the pot with worm food at the same spot if you feel that there are still some worms left. If not, place the pot in another location.

Vermi Tip #4:  Minimizing the Effects of High Temperature to Earthworms

The Philippines has been experiencing record temperature highs due to the El NiƱo weather phenomenon. The average maximum temperature for the past week reached more than 38 degrees Centigrade! [I am still trying to get the actual weekly average, but it was scorching hot!]. This temperature level is deadly to earthworms and requires mitigating actions.

Here are a few things that earthworm pet owners can do.

Outdoor Bins

1. Place your earthworm bin in a fully shaded area where sunlight can't reach the bin.

2. If this is not possible, surround your bin with plants in clay pots.
The plants serve as sunscreen. Additionally, the clay pots absorb heat during the day and slowly release the heat at night time.

3. Water frequently but reduce the volume.
Before, I used about 500ml of water for each sack, watering 3x a week. Now, I use about 350ml, watering every other day.

4. Add ice to keep the bedding cool and to maintain moisture.
I add 5 to 6 cubes of ice per sack on days I don't water, putting the ice cubes on top of the bedding, under the newspaper cover.

5. Add newspaper mulch to cover your bin to lessen evaporation rate.
I use several sheets of newspaper dipped in water. Every time I water my sack bins, I first collect the newspaper cover, water the bins, then return the newspaper cover that has been dipped in water.

Indoor Bins

1. Find and place the bin in the coolest location.
In our house, the coolest place is under the kitchen sink since our kitchen walls never get any direct sunlight.

If you have one, the basement might be the best place to put your earthworm bin.

2. Use ice cubes to keep the bedding temperature down BUT keep the ice cubes in a ziplock plastic bag.
Unless your bin is right beside a drain pipe, it is better to just contain the water in a bag once the ice melts. This way, you don't have to deal with a soggy bedding.

These are just some ways to minimize the effects of high temperature to earthworms.

If you have other ideas, why not share it by writing on the comments section?

Vermi Tip #5:  Add eggshells to neutralize an acidic worm bed

Adding crushed eggshells neutralizes an acidic worm bed. Eggshells can be collected from bakeshops and local restaurants serving tapsilog.

In my case, I provide a couple of small, black plastic garbage bags to the establishment. It makes it easier for them to segregate the eggshells from the rest of the food waste.

Usually, the baker or owner determines the collection date when eggshells are available. I return to the establishment on the day set since eggshells produce a strong odor if not collected promptly.

The eggshells do not undergo pre-composting anymore. I just add the crushed eggshells direct to the worm bins.

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