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Vermiculture: An Easy Alternative to Outdoor Composting
If you've always wanted to compost but think it's impossible because you live in an apartment or a house with a small yard, consider composting with worms.
Using worms in composting is called vermiculture. It involves keeping special red worms—either Red Wigglers and Red Earthworms—in bins with organic matter in order to break it down into a high-value compost called castings, which is the fecal matter the worms produce.
Worm castings makes a nutrient-dense, highly concentrated fertilizer that you can use in your garden or on your house plants.
Vermicomposting has only a few basic requirements, among them: worms (not the nightcrawlers or field worms found in gardens), worm bedding and a bin to contain the worms and organic matter such as food scraps. Maintenance includes preparing bedding, burying compostables and separating worms from their castings.
Vermicomposting has some distinct advantages over regular composting:
- It's faster—the fertilizer can be ready as soon as two months rather than two years.
- It's richer —worm castings contain five to 11 times more nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
- It has more beneficial micro-organisms and plant growth hormones—so it is better for your garden and indoor plants.
- It takes less effort—you feed the worms and forget about them.
- It can be done indoors or outdoors—this allows apartment dwellers and people with small yards to compost.
Worms will eat almost anything you would put in a typical compost pile such as food scraps, paper or plants.
To get the right kind of worms, check out CityFarmer.org, which maintains a list of worm suppliers for vermiculture throughout Canada and the U.S. Or consider online vendors such as WormWoman.com or Worms4Earth.com.
CityFarmer has a step-by-step photo gallery of how to put a worm compost together.
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The human-caused climate crisis could cause the extinction of 30 percent of the world's plant and animal species by 2070, even accounting for species' abilities to disperse and shift their niches to tolerate hotter temperatures, according to a study published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
By Tyler Wells Lynch
For years, Toni Genberg assumed a healthy garden was a healthy habitat. That's how she approached the landscaping around her home in northern Virginia. On trips to the local gardening center, she would privilege aesthetics, buying whatever looked pretty, "which was typically ornamental or invasive plants," she said. Then, in 2014, Genberg attended a talk by Doug Tallamy, a professor of entomology at the University of Delaware. "I learned I was actually starving our wildlife," she said.