“Is worm composting Vegan?” may sound like a strange question, but it does come up from time to time. While it may seem like a strange question to most, I suppose the best answer in the strictest of terms is it depends. While we aren’t eating the earthworm some vegans may raise concerns about the quality of life that earthworms enjoy. Indoor worm composting systems restrict the movement of the earthworms. This can cause the worms to become stressed if their home becomes overpopulated. However, there are in-ground systems that allow earthworms to travel freely through the soil. There are options that can still allow you to participate in worm composting without compromising your vegan values.
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Earthworms in Nature
Earthworms are an integral part of the soil food web. Healthy soils have about 4 earthworms per shovel. As worms go through the soil they create burrows, aerating the soil, while feeding on decaying material. Their castings (i.e. their poop), also called vermicompost get distributed throughout the soil. Worm castings are rich in beneficial bacteria and nutrients. After passing through the worms gut the nutrients present in vermicompost is available for use by plants.
A huge pillar of veganism is a concern for the environment. Most vegans can take part in vermiculture to reduce the amount of food waste going into landfills, without diminishing the earthworms’ quality of life.
The Sub pod is a favourite amongst gardeners using raised beds or with lots of space. If you are installing it into a raised bed you just put it in the bed and fill the dirt around it. If you are putting it in the ground get your back and shoulders ready because you will have a pretty large hole to dig.
If you are using the traditional sub pod you can add your food waste and brown material to one side with your worms. When one side is full, start feeding the other. The good news if you have a smaller space the sub pod mini may be the perfect compromise.
SUBPOD Compost Bin Outdoor with Dual Chamber Design.
Subpod Mini Compost System.
Tumbleweed Worm Feast
If you have limited garden space and no desire to harvest your worm castings the Tumbleweed Worm Feast is what you’re looking for. It’s discreet, has a rodent-proof lid and no base. This design allows the worms to come and go as they please. Put your food waste and brown materials in and the earthworms will do their part. Any liquids that are produced as the waste breaks down soak away into the surrounding soil.
BioGiz compost worm tower
This BioGiz Composter is exactly what it looks like. A bucket with lots of holes in it that you bury into the ground. After burring it in the garden you can add your brown and green waste to the bucket. If you don’t have a large population of worms in your garden you can purchase worms and add them to the bucket.
DIY Inground composter
The concept for this is fairly simple. You can make one yourself using a bucket or a wide PVC tube with a stopper. The plus side to using a PVC tube is that the top holds well and it is easier to remove than the bucket. However, some people may not like the PVC option because it can potentially leach chemicals into the soil.
Aerating your system
From time to time the materials in this system can become compressed. Having a compost aerator handy can be a big help. These do a great job of adding air to the system without damaging the worms
Benefits of in-ground composting
One of the biggest benefits of in-ground worm composting is that it is a lot more flexibility. If you’ve added too much food or the worms don’t like the environment in the container they can leave and come back when it suits them.
Another major benefit is that (in most cases) there aren’t any castings to sift and harvest. Most of the castings are distributed by the worms as they go through the surrounding soil. You’ll also notice the plants closest to your in-ground system thrive. This is because there are lots of worms in the soil working overtime. You can’t see them but these worms are busy improving the microbial population, aerating the soil and adding nutrients to the soil.
Worm compost is a great way to break down organic waste. One of the benefits of this option if you are practising veganism is you should be able to add just about all of your organic waste. Things like meat, eggs and dairy shouldn’t be added to a traditional worm composting setup (a bokashi bin would be much better in these cases). However, since it isn’t part of a vegan diet anyway it shouldn’t be an issue.
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