Vermicomposting is a technique consisting in raising earthworms to produce an organic fertiliser known as humus. In natural conditions, humus corresponds to the top layer of the soil, rich in organic residues that come from the decomposition carried out mainly by fungi and bacteria.
Together with other organisms, earthworms transform organic waste (leftovers from food, gardens, etc.) into simpler compounds beneficial for soils and animals, contributing to humus formation. Vermicompost is applied to agriculture to avoid fertilisers, favouring more ecological and sustainable practices.
The key to it all lies in the closing of the cycle that this vermicompost allows. Studies have found that a significant fraction of the total organic waste comes from our homes and could have a longer cycle if used to provide nutrients to the soil and thus benefit the subsequent cultivation of new plants.
Here are some of the tools you will need to make homemade vermicompost:
- Earthworms: not all earthworms are suitable for vermicomposting. The most common species are the red wriggler, also known as the Californian red (Eisenia fetida), the European nightcrawler (Dendrobaena hortensis) and the European red (Lumbricus rubellus).
- Vermicomposter: this is a closed container you can place anywhere in the house as the chemical reactions of vermicomposting occur inside.
- Materials for the earthworm substrate: it can be very diverse, from straw, dry grass, newspaper or unpainted pieces of cardboard, etc.
For more information or any questions, we encourage you to consult experts for advice and answers to all your doubts.
Jordi Ribas (Associació Lombricultura Lúdica, in Catalan)
You may know more about vermicomposting in this video (with English subtitles):