This page is dedicated to answering nagging 101-level questions about certain terms within vermicomposting, which can be a very lingo-heavy pursuit and somewhat intimidating to newbies
AACT stands for actively aerated compost tea, a microbe-rich liquid made from compost or vermicompost that has undergone an hours-long aeration process to oxygenate the liquid to boost microorganism populations.
Anaerobic is the quality of lacking oxygen. Anaerobic vermicompost can be identified by a foul odor and is often densely compacted, thus preventing the medium from being exposed to sufficient oxygen levels.
Worm bedding is a carbon-rich substrate in a worm bin that worms will inhabit. Worm bedding breaks down more slowly than nitrogen-rich food waste in a worm bin but can still serve as a food for the worms as it decomposes over time.
Bokashi is an anaerobic form of composting using inoculated bran to help ferment organic waste that may not be suitable for vermicomposting or traditional composting, such as meat and dairy products. Some vermicomposters claim success in feeding their worms bokashi.
A worm’s calciferous gland excretes calcium carbonate (CaCO3) which scientists believe aids in digestion and reduces toxicity of metals and tannins. Calciferous gland activity can vary widely between worm species.
The clitellum is the the fleshy band on a worm nearer to the head and its presence indicates sexual maturity. The location, color, and texture of the clitellum are useful indicators or identifying a particular worm species.
A worm cocoon is a small capsule, often the size of a pinhead or an apple seed, which contains approximately 3 embryonic worms. Cocoons take between 21 to 28 days to hatch juvenile worms and will change color as they mature.
Compost is decomposed organic matter. Hot compost has undergone one if not several heating cycles where thermophilic microbes thrive and help to further break down the organic matter.
See this article to read the difference between vermicomposting and composting.
Continuous Flow Through (CFT)
A continuous flow through vermicomposting system leverages the worms’ tendency to move into layers of food waste above, leaving their castings behind to be harvested, either manually in simpler flow through systems like the Urban Worm Bag or by the use of a mechanized breaker bar for more sophisticated worm farming systems like the Michigan SoilWorks CFT.
Part of the worm’s digestive system, just beyond the esophagus. The crop is where the worm grinds food to prepare it for further digestion
The binomial name of the Red Wiggler.
The binomial name of the European Nightcrawler.
Epigeic worms live near the surface in loosely-packed leaf litter or detritus. Most composting worms are epigeic.
Indian Blue Worm
Also known as perionyx excavatus, the Indian Blue Worm or “blue” is a composting worm that favors temperate to tropical climates. The Indian Blue is often confused with the red wiggler, but can be identified by its less prominent clitellum its noticeable elongation while moving.
A very close relative of eisenia fetida, the “tiger worm” is a common composting worm, especially in more tropical climates and is identified by
Leachate, often confused with worm tea, is excess moisture that has drained though a vermicomposting system. The liquid collected from the tap of a stackable plastic worm bin is leachate, not worm tea.
Tiny living things, whether plant or animal; bacteria, protozoa, fungi, actinomycetes
The binomial name of the Indian Blue Worm.
Protein poisoning happens when worms are fed a diet that is either acidic or high in protein, both of which will cause acidic conditions that lead to fermentation in the worm’s gut. Having no way to counteract the gasses from the fermentation, the worm’s intestines will rupture, resulting in the “string of pearls” appearance of a worm afflicted with protein poisoning.
A segment is the disc-shaped portion of a worm’s body bound together from the anterior and posterior of the worm by a membrane.
Technically, vermicast is a single particle of worm castings, but the term is often used interchangeably with worm castings.
Vermicompost is the byporoduct of vermicomposting or worm composting, normally existing of worm castings, humus, unprocessed organic materisal, and microorganisms.
A windrow is a long pile of material, vermicompost in this case, normally heaped by a machine or manually. Vermicomposting in windrows is very common in warmer climates as it is not capital intensive.
Worm castings are worm poop! They are the excretion of the earthworm after the digestion process. Worm castings are considered a highly-potent soil amendment that enriches soil and aids in plant growth, pest and pathogen suppression, water retention, soil aggregation, and other benefits.
Worm tea, unlike leachate, is a deliberately-produced by-product of vermicompost made by suspending vermicompost in a fine mesh bag into a container of water which is typically aerated in order to boost the microbe populations within the tea.
Applied as a soil drench or foliar spray, worm tea is considered a potent fertilizer.
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Choosing the correct bedding for a worm composting bin is a high-consequence decision for a new vermicomposter. Choose wisely and be patient, and you'll be off to a great start recycling organic waste into worm castings, and before you know it, it will seem like...
Every now and then, I think it's helpful to reevaluate prior assumptions about the basics of vermicomposting. There's no one way to do worm composting correctly for all situations, and if there was, nobody has written a book on how to do it just yet.One of these...
It seems to happen again and again and again. Armed with a bin, some bedding, and a shiny new arsenal of composting worms, eager new vermicomposters, our fellow foot soldiers in the War on Waste try to win the war literally overnight. And they often fail miserably....
Some of us start vermicomposting to divert our household or farm waste away from the waste stream, and that is a benefit by itself. But what about the end product? If you're reading this, you're probably already aware that vermicompost, which includes the worm...
Starting a new home worm bin is easy and only requires a bin, bedding, some food, and yes, the worms. Anyone can learn how to do it. But as I learned a few years ago, starting a successful, thriving home bin from scratch where worms won't try to escape the first night...
The question of how much to feed your composting worms can vex the beginning vermicomposter, and if you're in an area like I am that features both hot and cold weather, then that amount can vary wildly. So if I were you, I would get out of the mindset of trying...
Probably the most misleading thing about vermicomposting is that it includes the word "composting." Wikipedia tells us compost is "organic matter that has been decomposed and recycled as a fertilizer and soil amendment." And while that is a fitting description...
No. Or I should say, in nearly all cases, no. There are 2700 species of earthworms in the world and only about 4 of them of them are good vermicomposters. They are: eisenia fetida*, aka red wigglers, tiger worms, manure worms eisenia hortensis*, aka European...
Along with the choice of bedding for a worm bin, the choice of what to feed your composting worms is a pretty consequential decision. While earthworms will eventually eat any organic material over time, the lack of space in home worm composting bins means we have to...