We've created a YouTube Playlist of some of the popular How To's. Please feel free to visit and suggest your favorite video! YouTube Vermicomposting Playlist by OC CTTC.
Also if you'd like a great read on the subject Joe recommended, "Worms Eat My Garbage" by Mary Appelhof.
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(Note: I've edited it a bit for ease of reading.)
What do we do with all those ever accumulating yet wonderfully versatile "sulcata cigars"? I know I'm not the only one who sometimes ponders how its even physically possible for it to appear that 5 lbs of sulcata food
somehow and almost magically gets converted into 20 lbs of sulcata cigars!
Sure, one could simply gather up all those tubular tort "gifts" and just throw them into your compost pile. Compost is great for spreading around your tort yard to ensure well fortified and rich, nutritious soil
for fast, nutritious vegetation growth and that's exactly what I do in warmer months. Unfortunately, most compost piles located in cold climates go into "hibernation" once it gets really cold and simply stop
working their magic till spring. There is however a fantastic and super low maintenance, non odor producing indoor solution - Vermicomposting.
If you don't know what vermicomposting is, then Google will give you a much better explanation than I ever could. Basically, it's just the method of using compost worms (often called red wiggler worms) to quickly process select household food wastes (and more importantly those lovely sulcata cigars) into super high quality worm castings. It sounds much more unappealing than it actually is, so no need for squeamish concerns. Fresh worm castings and the plethora of beneficial microorganisms they contain are simply natures ultimate fertilizer. Worm casings are so valued, they are often called "Black Gold" with even bagged, massed produced, inferior casings selling for over a buck per lb in home garden centers. Mixing fresh worm castings into a high quality, organic potting soil results in extremely fast growing and super healthy plant/grasses growth! I've always grown my own grasses in trays during the winter for my sulcatas and until I started vermicomposting, I could
simply not keep up. Now, even though my torts are much larger and require much more food, I can reliably grow more than I need quite quickly using the same amount of trays without ANY chemical sourced fertilizers.
There's many different ways to implement vermicomposting - on a super small "micro" scale to very large commercial operations. You can easily and cheaply build your own setup (YouTube has many great how-to videos) or purchase a small, ready to use system like I did. I purchased a "Worm Factory 360" on eBay for less than $100 shipped, but there are many manufacturers of these small yet expandable units available and all of them pretty much operate the same. If you search hard enough you can even find great deals online. I would however recommend one with a bottom spigot for collection of leeching liquids that can accumulate
over long periods of time. These leeched (and non odorous) liquids can be diluted to make amazingly super high quality "teas" to water/fertilize house plants or your tort food growing trays. You do need to be careful with these teas however as they are so potent with natures fertilizers that, if use them too often or do not dilute them enough with plain water, its very easy to over fertilize and either severely stunt or even kill entire trays of otherwise lushly growing grasses.
One big reality that should really be mentioned and clarified, manure (tort or otherwise) can cause overheating (especially very fresh manure) if introduced in large enough quantities to your vermicomposter and quickly KILL off your worms. This needs to be watched and temperatures need to be continually monitored when adding manures. A way around this is to "age" your manures a bit BEFORE adding to your vermicomposter. This way, any of the natural microbial breakdown or composting of manures that cause this "heating" will safely take place outside of the vermicomposter. This "aged" sulcata manure tends to be fairly dry so I've also found that by breaking it up into many small pieces (when adding it to your vermicomposter) greatly adds to your worms abilities to quickly break it down and transfer it to worm castings. I use a large heavy duty pair of scissors for this sole purpose and it's really not as gross as it may sound but I'm not very "squeamish" either.
I'm just amazed at how vigorously sulcata cigars are processed by the compost worms. Although I do throw in select household food wastes, it's the sulcata waste that the worms really seem to go nuts for. So much so
that I've even considered purchasing another unit just for sulcata wastes as the worms clearly ignore most other food waste items as long as there's some cigars still in there, sometimes even resulting in uneven processing. The worms seem to prefer and get so highly invigorated by sulcata waste that I'm betting that a unit devoted solely to processing sulcata waste will result in a super fast turnaround of only a few weeks to go from lbs of tort waste to lbs of tort fortified, high quality "sulcata black gold".
I know all this is old info and these methods are well dare I say older than dirt. I just do not seem to remember them ever being previously mentioned here [Sulcata Station Yahoo Group] and since the subject of winter sulcata husbandry and indoor sulcata food growing has been discussed recently [it seemed appropriate.]
Quite possibly some sulcata fans, whom could greatly benefit from vermicompostiing were either unaware or unfamiliar with how easy, clean and unobtrusive it actually is. PLUS, it really is great for our little planet to divert anything we possibly can from our obnoxiously HUGE waste stream and recycle!