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By: cbinuv (112 month(s) ago)

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By: manisha24887 (133 month(s) ago)

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By: kishan03 (140 month(s) ago)

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Vermiculture: Promote Global Worming!: 

Vermiculture: Promote Global Worming! Written and designed By Julie Weisenhorn, Teaching Specialist, Department of Horticultural Science, University of Minnesota. December 2000

Darwin  Earthworms : 

Darwin  Earthworms “The plow is one of the most ancient and most valuable of Man’s inventions; but long before he existed, the land … was regularly ploughed, and still continues to be ploughed, by earthworms. It may be (doubtful) whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world as these lowly, organized creatures. - Charles Darwin, 1881

Presentation Goals: 

Presentation Goals To understand the importance of the earthworm; To understand the basic biology of the earthworm; To become enthused about the prospects of home vermicomposting.

Think about this: : 

Think about this: How can I change from “waste-ful” to being “waste-free”?

Earthworm Taxonomic Details: 

Earthworm Taxonomic Details Phylum Annelida (Latin for “rings”) Class Chaetopoda Order Oligochaeta Five families Most common to N. America = Lumbricidae 3000 species worldwide

Common Species : 

Common Species Lumbricus terrestis – Night crawler Allolobophora caliginosa – Grey worm Allolobophora chlorotica – Green worm Lumbricus rubellus – Red worm Eisenia fetida – Red Wiggler

The Earthworm & History: 

The Earthworm & History Casts found in Nile River basin = FERTILITY No earthworms native to Minnesota Exotics destroying understory vegetation Darwin, Oliver and Barrett Sir Albert Howard The Rodales Doc Hopp

Lifespan of the Earthworm: 

Lifespan of the Earthworm Lifespan Conservative estimate: 4-8 years Barrett estimates 15+ Mortality by accident Primitive physiology is unchanged Body composition: 70-95% water Balance = protein, fat, minerals absorbed from soil

Earthworm Biology 1001: 

Earthworm Biology 1001 Segmented body “somites” Somites equipped with setae Five “hearts” Cold-blooded Peristonium = mouth Prostonium for prying

Earthworm Biology 1001: 

Earthworm Biology 1001 Mucus is critical: Holds in moisture Aids in respiration Protects body while burrowing Sperm carrier during reproduction

Reproductive System: 

Reproductive System Hermaphrodites, but not self-fertilizing Mutual exchange of sperm Ova are fertilized in cocoons Clitellum: light-colored band - produces cocoons Cocoons contain ~ 4 eggs Eggs incubate 3 weeks


Regeneration Myth: Cut a worm in half and you’ll have two worms Worm needs at least 13 segments Will re-grow body segments (equal number)

Nervous System: 

Nervous System Brain = a knot of nerves Ganglion serve as impulse centers Super sensitive to touch Allows worm to select food, avoid predators and objects, and reproduce; Can feel bird’s footsteps Eyes are sensitive to blue light and skin to ultravoilet rays = burrowing action

Digestive System: 

Digestive System Eats weight in soil & OM daily Processed in alimentary canal Muscular mixing with enzymes releasing amino acids, sugars, organic molecules; Includes microorganisms Molecules absorbed through intestinal membranes Result: CASTINGS

The Internal Earthworm: 

The Internal Earthworm

Vermiculture & Vermicomposting: 

Vermiculture & Vermicomposting Vermiculture is … “the culture of earthworms” Vermicomposting is … “using earthworms and microorganisms to convert organic waste into black, earthy-smelling, nutrient-rich humus.” - Mary Appelhof


Why? Year-round compost & organic plant fertilizer Reduce, reuse, recycle Non-polluting Profitable commercial business Interesting for all ages

Comparison of Composting: 

Comparison of Composting Organic Matter Temperature Compost bin = 130-160° F; 6-8 months Worm bin = 59-70° F; year-round Air circulation Compost bin = vents + turning Worm bin = vents + worm churn

Comparison of Composting: 

Comparison of Composting Moisture Compost bin = rain, hose, organic matter Worm bin = foodstock Microorganisms Compost bin = bacteria + fungi + some worms Worm bin = worm mass + bacteria + fungi, etc.

Comparison of Composting: 

Comparison of Composting Time Compost bin = few months; depends on weather Worm bin = few months

How can I vermicompost?: 

How can I vermicompost? Three E’s: Education Equipment Environment

1st E: Education: 

1st E: Education Books Worms Eat My Garbage by Mary Appelhof The Earthworm Book: How to Raise and Use Earthworms for Your Farm and Garden, by Jerry Minnich Extension office bulletins “Earthworm Biology and Production” by the University of California Cooperative Extension, leaflet #2828

1st E: Education: 

1st E: Education Resources on the Internet: The Compost Resource Page Worm Digest Cityfarmer Worm Woman (Mary Appelhof’s site)

2nd E: Equipment: 

2nd E: Equipment Suppliers: The Happy D Worm Ranch Biological Home Grown Farm The Worm Farm

Worm Bins: 

Worm Bins Size Construction Plastic vs. Wood construction Commercial Can-O-Worms™ Worm-A-Way® Worm-A-Roo™

Worm Bins: 

Worm Bins Size Track food waste for a week Allow one square foot of surface per pound of waste Example problem: Five pounds of food waste per week will require 5 ft² of surface. Bin should measure 1’ x 2’ x 3’ (6 ft²)

Bin Construction: 

Bin Construction Wooden Bin Organic Breathes Heavy Deteriorates faster Can be built as furniture No treated lumber or fragrant woods (ie: cedar) Plastic Bin Lightweight Holds moisture Will not rot Requires more holes for aeration Inexpensive Many bins available

Commercial Bins: 

Commercial Bins Can-O-Worms™ Most popular Enclosed tier system Bottom catch tray & spigot Stackable mesh trays Worms migrate vertically Easy to harvest castings $130.00 incl. shipping

Commercial Bins: 

Commercial Bins Worm-A-Way® Plastic Ventilated Several sizes Lightweight $90-$100 incl. Worms & shipping

Commercial Bins: 

Commercial Bins Worm-A-Roo™ Double bin system Plastic “Migration device” Lightweight $140-$170 incl. Supplies, worms, and shipping

3rd E: Environment: 

3rd E: Environment A worm bin must be: Convenient Easily accessible In a well-ventilated location Covered and protected from wind, sun, and animals


Bedding Various materials: Shredded newspaper Sphagnum Peat Moss Manure Leaf litter Coir (Coconut fiber) Wood chips Dampen bedding with tap water Mix well


Bedding Possible additions to bedding Calcium carbonate to control pH Do NOT use slaked or hydrated lime Rock dust for grit Zeolite – for grit; also balances pH, controls odors, absorbs ammonia

Bin Temperature: 

Bin Temperature Recommended: 59-77° F A cooler bin … Stays moist Worms appear more active Bedding is thicker May have more mites Easier to maintain consistent conditions A warmer bin Dries out quickly Worms appear more lethargic Bedding appears to be settled Harder to maintain non-ambient temperature Additional moisture required

Bin Care & Maintenance: 

Bin Care & Maintenance Provide adequate bin and bedding mixture Maintain moisture level Maintain temperature 60-65° F Provide air circulation in bin via adequate holes Provides aeration Controls odors by eliminating anaerobic conditions


Foodstock Variety Bury foodstock under bedding Don’t overload system Maintain aerobic conditions C/N ratio


Foodstock DO’s Fruit & vegetable scraps Banana peels Grains & cereals, pasta Tea bags & leaves Cooked eggs & shells Coffee grounds & filters Onions & potatoes Pancakes Banana bread, cake Leaves Plant cuttings DON’Ts Non-Biodegradables Plastic Glass Rubber Pet feces (cats) Toxic materials Ex: orange peels Plant cuttings treated with herbicides or insecticides


Foodstock Meat & Dairy products Worms will consume Not a good idea for indoor system (odiferous) May attract undesirables Can grind up bones (high nitrogen) High N!

Other Organisms: 

Other Organisms Mites & flies Predatory planarians Centipedes & millipedes Enchytraeids (white worms) Springtails Isopods (ie: sowbugs) Bacteria, mold, fungi, etc.

Harvesting Vermicompost: 

Harvesting Vermicompost Worm castings vs. Vermicompost Worm castings are deposits that have moved through the worm’s digestive system; Vermicompost is a combination of : Worm castings OM and bedding at various stages of decomposition Organisms such as worms and cocoons Microorganisms

Harvesting Vermicompost: 

Harvesting Vermicompost Vermicompost supplies: Nutrient-rich organic fertilizer Humus is beneficial to plant growth Humic acid Binding site for plant nutrients Increases soil texture and aggregation Improves permeability

Harvest Methods: 

Harvest Methods Dump & Hand Sort Method Lateral Method Vertical Method

There is no such thing as waste, for one organism’s waste is another’s resource. How can YOU be more waste-free?: 

There is no such thing as waste, for one organism’s waste is another’s resource. How can YOU be more waste-free?

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