Worm manure a real treat for your garden


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 01/06/2018 (1827 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

By now most gardeners have started planting.  This year is the earliest I’ve ever planted. As of May 28, everything in my vegetable garden had sprouted.

Once your gardens start growing, you need to think about feeding those vegetables and flowers. I usually use the liquid or granular chemical options available in the hardware store. But as I become more attuned to the natural way of doing things, I’m switching to compost. I have a bin in the backyard in which I throw all my vegetable and fruit scraps, as well as grass clippings and leaves. The process is effective but takes a while.

I recently went to a vermicomposting workshop sponsored by Greenpeace and Green Action Centre. Vermicomposting basically involves feeding worms leftover fruits and vegetables that they then turn into compost (worm manure).

Herald Teresa Looy, composting expert at Green Action Centre, displays a vermicomposting bin.

Teresa Looy of Green Action Centre showed us how easy it is to set up a vermicomposting system. You only need two bins, bedding, leftover food waste and, of course, some worms.

I was a little squeamish at first as I imagined having to deal with big fat worms. What I learned is that the earth worms you find in your garden outside are not used for vermicomposting.

Those garden worms need space and do not like to be crowded with other worms.  The smaller red wriggler worms, about four centimetres long, are used. They eat the bacteria from decaying organic material turning it into nutrients for the soil called humus.

Vermicomposting is an indoor activity as the worms are weather sensitive.

You can buy special bins designed for vermicomposting, but Looy uses two Rubbermaid-style, opaque stackable bins. The top bin has holes drilled in the bottom enabling excess moisture to drain out into the second bin that it fits into.

Worms are placed in the bin, a handful of soil is added and some bedding material (necessary to keep moisture regulated and a place where the worms live). Shredded newsprint, such as old copies of The Herald or Winnipeg Free Press, is acceptable, as these papers are printed with vegetable-based ink. Alternately you can use HealthiStraw, a dustless wheat product, available by the bag for under $10 at Horizon Livestock & Poultry Supply, at the corner of Dugald Road and Panet Road. 

The great benefit of vermicomposting is that decomposition happens faster than in an outdoor compost bin, and the end product is richer in nutrients. Over 75,000 tonnes of organic waste each year goes into the Brady Road landfill, the second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the province, so every bit of food that is fed to the worms is that much less that ends up in the landfill.

Best of all, worm compost is an environmentally friendly fertilizer that is free.

To find out where to buy worms, and for more information about vermicomposting, check out

Suzanne Hunter is a community correspondent for Transcona.

Suzanne Hunter

Suzanne Hunter

Suzanne Hunter is a community correspondent for Transcona.

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