Red worms are amongst the most popular when it comes to composting. They have a solid reputation for helping plants thrive by supplying the nutrients that they need.
If you are using red worms in a composting bin, you need to understand how they make compost. With this, you should know how they eat and what they do to make the soil richer with the beneficial nutrients that plants need to thrive. Keep on reading and we’ll help you!
How Red Worms Eat
This is one thing that fascinates many people, especially those who are uninitiated when it comes to the feeding behaviors of worms.
Like other worms, red worms do not have teeth. However, this does not mean that they do not eat. They will not survive when they are not fed. While they do not have teeth, their mouth has a lip-like extension, which you will find at the end of their body. When they move through their bedding, they eat what they find along the way.
Their muscular pharynx or throat will grab the food. The worm will then coat it with saliva and push it through the esophagus. Their pharynx will also act as the suction pump, which is what will let it suck food. It will then move to the gizzard. It is here where the food is crushed and ground until moving to the intestine. The intestine makes most of the length of the worm’s body. It will be further broken down into digestive enzymes. This is also where the absorption of the nutrients happens. It will then be expelled from the anus as castings or poop.
To allow proper digestion of food, red worms will need grit. This will help in breaking down the enzymes effectively before they will be released as worm castings. One of the best ways to add grit to the composting bin is to use eggshells. Make sure that you rinse it properly and dry. Once the eggshells are clean, crush and scatter on the worm bin. This will also supplement the calcium needs of the soil while aiding in proper digestion
Red Worms are Voracious Eaters
As we talk about how red worms eat and make compost, there is one thing that we would like to highlight – they have big appetites. Being voracious eaters, they can eat food scraps that are equivalent to the same amount as their body weight in a day. This means that if you have one pound of red worms, to let them make good quality compost for your bin, you will also need to provide one pound of scraps a day as their food.
Despite being heavy eaters, it is important to avoid overfeeding red worms. Otherwise, it can result in serious problems, such as having a foul smell in the composting bin, increasing the likelihood that pests will be present, excess moisture, and making the soil too acidic.
Feeding Red Worms Properly
Now that you know how red worms eat, it is also important that you learn how to feed them properly. This is important for unlocking their full potential when used in a composting bin.
Choose the Right Food
To make sure that the red worms will survive and that they can supply the nutrients needed in the composting bin, a key consideration would be what you feed them. Like other worms, fruits and vegetables are some of the best. You can also feed eggshells, which will be a great source of calcium. Paper is also a good alternative and will have benefits when it comes to improving soil aeration as well.
Cut the Food in Small Pieces
For red worms to make good compost, you should cut their food into small pieces. As mentioned above, they do not have teeth, so once the food is in their mouth, they cannot break it down into smaller pieces. To attract them to the food in the compost, see to it that they are in the smallest cuts possible.
Do Not Overfeed Your Worms
While you want to give food to worms to ensure their health, moderation is important. Over-feeding red worms in the composting bin can do more harm than good. Give your worms the time to adjust to the bin without crowding it with food. It is also important to mind the frequency of feeding. You can feed the worms once every two days or once a week depending on their size and quantity.
Using Worm Casting as Compost
Once the food has been digested and expelled from the anus of the red worm, this is when it becomes a good material for your composting bin. Adding worm castings in the soil will be crucial in the improvement of its nutrient content and porosity. This will allow the plants to grow stronger.
Because of the importance of worm castings in composting, it is called black gold. Black is an obvious reference to the color of the poop. Gold, on the other hand, is an indication of how valuable poop is for the soil and your plants.
Speaking of being valuable to the compost bin, the castings are potent with desirable microorganisms and organic matter that can deliver the same benefits as fertilizers. They will improve soil structure, such as by providing better aeration.
Another benefit of adding red worm casting to the composting bin is that it can improve seed germination. This will increase the chances that the seeds planted can be yield favorable outcomes. An increase in flower and fruit production are other anticipated benefits when you are using castings from red worms.
This short guide talked about how do red worms make compost. As noted above, it is a straightforward process. They eat food and they excrete castings. These castings, in turn, will provide the nutrients vital for the health of your plants. By understanding the way they eat food, it will be easier to make sure that they are fed properly and that their castings will be beneficial for your composting bin.
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