Composting is the process of breaking down organic matter through aerobic decomposition. This form of decomposition makes use of bacteria, heat and oxygen to decompose plants, leaves, wood, paper, animal dung and other forms of organic matter. Worm composting therefore is composting with the aid of composting worms. This is also known as vermicomposting or vermiculture. The advantage of vermicomposting over that without the use of composting worms is that the worms speed up the composting process. However, composting can at times be as fast, if not faster than vermiculture under optimum conditions. This is usually only achieved in industries that specializes in making organic compost for sale.
For the home garden purposes, worm composting will almost certainly be faster in producing compost. There are three main types of worms that are suitable for worm composting. In layman terms, they can either be classified as ‘red worms’ or ‘blue worms’. The red worms consist of two species, the Red wigglers (Eisenia foetida or Eisenia andrei) and the European Nightcrawlers (Eisenia hortensis). The blue worms (Perionyx excavatus) are known either as Indian blue worms or Malaysian blue worms. Blue worms are more suitable for tropical countries as they live and thrive in temperatures between 20 – 35 degrees Celsius (70 – 90 degrees Fahrenheit).
All these composting worms belong to the earthworm family, and as such are hermaphrodites. Each worm has both the male and female reproductive organs. Hermaphrodites do not have males or females, but simply mate with one another to reproduce. Each cocoon produced contains about 5-6 eggs on average, depending on the environment and diet of the worms.
Worm composting is a very simple and eco friendly project that everyone can adopt. The main tools required are simply a worm bin to house the worms, the worm themselves of course, food to feed the worms, and knowledge on how to ensure that are constantly producing compost, also known as worm castings, for you. You will also be interested in knowing how to breed your worms so that your worm population can multiply and your worm farm can work at its optimum capacity.
One common question asked is do worms breed to fast, resulting in an overpopulation scenario? The answer is that worms know how to regulate their population in terms of the space and food available to them. If conditions are not suitable for a larger worm population, they will not reproduce. Therefore, you do not have to worry about an overflowing worm bin! What you are likely to have instead is a very active worm farm continuously converting your waste products to useful castings that can be used as a fertilizer for your garden and potted plants.