Table of Contents
- 1 Introduction
- 2 What is Vermicompost?
- 3 Why Vermicomposting?
- 4 What’s the Shelf Life of Vermicomposting
- 5 Factors Affecting the Shelf Life of Vermicomposting
- 6 How to Know if Your Vermicompost Has Gone Bad?
- 7 How Can Shelf Life of Vermicomposting Be Prolonged?
- 8 Preserving Vermicompost
- 9 Final Thoughts
Vermicompost is a wonderful soil enhancer that offers several good benefits. It improves the texture of the soil, enhances its drainage, helps retain nutrients, and nurtures microbial life.
Vermicomposting is an excellent way to recycle food wastes in the kitchen and yard waste in the backyard. There are many ways to do vermicomposting over the internet but we have the best vermicomposting guide
However, vermicompost has a short shelf life, especially when exposed to air and sunlight, but does vermicompost go bad? This article will explain how to preserve your vermicompost by fixing potential issues during storage periods while discussing the shelf life of vermicompost.
Vermicompost is the product of earthworms consuming organic wastes. The resulting substance contains nutrients, beneficial microbes, and soil that can be used to enrich gardens.
However, vermicompost has a short shelf life in comparison to other kinds of composts since it is not thermophilic and does not kill microorganisms that cause rotting.
While this compost type will usually last for about four months once it is made, how long it lasts afterward depends on storage conditions. For instance, if you store your compost in an airtight container like a sealed plastic bag or bucket after making the product, then it could have a shorter shelf life than expected.
There are some pros and cons of vermicomposting you need to know before trying it out, but a few cons can be prevented if you properly maintain and take care of your system.
This article offers an in-depth view of the shelf life of vermicompost and all the factors that affect its quality.
What is Vermicompost?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), compost is an organic material that is used as a medium for growing plants or other organisms. The process of creating compost involves mixing unused plant materials after they have been degraded by microorganisms in natural environments over time.
The materials could include food scraps, herbs, dead leaves, and grass clippings. The resulting compost is then used as an organic material for growing plants in agricultural settings.
Vermicompost can be considered the microbially enhanced form of compost. It has a unique structure that includes a dense cluster of earthworm castings with surface layers that are rich in aerobic bacteria.
Vermicompost also contains enzymes that help improve biological activity and boost plant growth rates. Earthworms are the main producers of vermicompost since they have efficient nutrient processing abilities which enable them to survive on different kinds of solid and semi-liquid matter.
Vermicomposting comes with a range of benefits to the plans and the soil at the same time that normal compost and fertilizers are not able to bring. These benefits include:
- Vermicompost is used in growing flowers, ornamental plants, and lawns since it helps bring out the color of flowers and increases their fragrance. It thus makes them very attractive to buyers.
- This type of composting can be done by planting directly into earthworm castings or by applying the vermicompost around your plants.
- Organic farmers are also major users of this kind of compost since they use it as a soil conditioner to boost plant growth.
- The earthworms help aerate the soil when applied to large fields, while their solid waste becomes food for microorganisms which play crucial roles in healthy soil ecology.
- In addition, because they feed on organic matter such as decaying leaves, earthworms increase nutrient cycling between the soil to the plants.
- It does not need any special storage to last a long time because the earthworm’s castings are already fully composted.
- They do not smell bad and can be used right away for your garden or crop field if you do want to use them.
- Other types of materials require certain storage procedures before they can be used but this type will not have such an issue as it is ready for planting anytime.
- Earthworms help speed up the composting process so there is no chance that your compost pile will get spoiled by other organisms, which is why we consider the shelf life of vermicomposting to be a positive thing.
As you can see, there are more than enough reasons to have you thinking about vermicomposting as compared to other composts or fertilizers. The disadvantages that come with vermicomposting are considered minor since there are easy ways around them.
What’s the Shelf Life of Vermicomposting
If you are asking whats the shelf life of vermicomposting is, hinting if the compost ever goes bad then we have the answer for you. The shelf life of vermicomposting is indefinite.
This means that it can last forever as long as you store it properly. The shelf life of vermicomposting is indefinite in the sense that there will be no degradation or decomposition at all even after a very long time.
However, how long does vermicompost go bad? The shelf life for vermicompost is never-ending unless you expose your compost to extreme temperatures and moisture levels.
You can store all kinds of materials in your homemade containers such as peat moss, sawdust, newspaper, cardboard, and other materials that are usually disposed of after one uses.
Learn that while the vermicomposting doesn’t go bad, it does lose its potency. This loss of potency is what causes degradation which will be accelerated by the way it has been stored.
Factors Affecting the Shelf Life of Vermicomposting
There are different factors that have been known to affect the shelf life of vermicomposting including the following:
You should ideally store your container of vermicomposting in the shade and avoid storing it outside where it can be exposed to high temperatures. You should also ensure that there is no direct sunlight or any other heat source near the container.
Temperature affects how fast you will find your compost going bad. It’s advisable that you keep the temperature around 65 degrees F and if possible, under 50 degrees F.
Excess moisture may promote the growth of microorganisms which will eventually lead to mold formation on top of your compost material and other areas around the container. That is something that you do not want happening to your vermicompost.
This means that when picking a storage system, make sure that there is enough space between your stored materials and the walls or ceiling so that air can move around them easily.
Also, make sure that your system has a ventilation/ drainage system so that moisture can leave and water does not pool up inside the container.
You may want to consider using an enclosed storage container with perforated holes on it so that enough air movement is being created for drying purposes.
A lot of people wonder how to keep their vermicompost from getting infested with insects such as ants, cockroaches, or even termites. Well first off, you want to use materials like wood chips if possible because they will serve as barriers.
This will help in preventing unwanted animals and insects from getting into your bin or the surrounding area. You may also want to consider adding red worms or you can move your bin into an area where it is difficult for other insects to access.
You may use a bait trap that is filled with food and surrounded by a sticky substance that will capture invading pests such as ants, termites, cockroaches, and so on.
This type of trap however does not work on all types of insects and therefore should be used with caution. The purpose of the bait trap is to lure in unwanted animals but then once they are trapped inside it becomes easy to dispose of them without having them infest the surrounding areas causing more problems.
How to Know if Your Vermicompost Has Gone Bad?
The shelf life of vermicomposting can be determined by the health and condition of the worms, the smell, and the appearance of your compost.
If there is a strong foul odor coming from your vermicompost, it may indicate that something has gone wrong with your bin. This could mean that an animal got into your bin or you have poorly maintained or prepared materials for recycling.
It is important to note however that some odors are normal such as earthy dirt smells when adding fresh material to your worm box or even what can be described as a similar odor like wet dog food if provided too much rich material at once.
Another indicator that will show you that your vermicompost has gone bad is the growth of mold or fungus especially on the surface of your food waste.
The presence of mold could also mean that moisture levels are too high in your worm bin and it’s time to dry out excess water with a towel or simply draining some liquid off into the sink.
If you see fruit flies hovering over your vermicompost, you may have an infestation which means they can get inside your home. It is best to keep them outside via screening or closing off any openings for airflow and using fine mesh netting will prevent many small insects from entering your kitchen or living space.
How Can Shelf Life of Vermicomposting Be Prolonged?
There are a number of ways, more than once, that you can help prolong the lifespan of your vermicompost. These methods are relatively easy and can be done out of the house in a short time period.
One way is by turning your bin so that you have access to both sides. If one side starts to look different from the other, then it’s time to turn it over in order to keep a more even balance between moisture levels.
Dryness is another factor that can shorten your worm life span as well. Normal household humidity will usually be enough to keep a healthy colony of worms alive, but if you like things really dry or notice them becoming stressed take steps to correct the problem immediately before it becomes too late.
Always remember that the recommended temperature should sit at 20 degrees Celcius at the minimum and 25 degrees Celcius at maximum. Simultaneously, the moisture should measure 80% at the minimum and 85% at the maximum.
By keeping these conditions so will allow for the worms to survive well enough to make more vermicompost with all the other factors remaining constant.
There are some methods that you can preserve your vermicompost to the extent that it will take months, if not years before it starts losing its potency. But to get to know how to preserve your and prolong the shelf life of vermicompost, then follow these steps:
- The first thing to do is to find a sealable container. You can use polypropylene or clear plastic bags, and buckets with lids that seal properly.
- The next thing is picking up the right ingredients for your vermicompost storage.
- To have it last for long periods of time you will require about 2 inches of clean dry sand or peat moss at the bottom of your storage area before you pour in the worms and vermicompost.
- On top of that layer of sand or peat, you would then pour in your vermicompost; make sure it’s damp but not soaked before adding it to the bin because you want the moisture content to be similar to a slightly moist sponge and that is where you will find worms thriving perfectly.
- For extra protection from unwanted smells and bugs include a couple of inches of organic soil in between layers of vermicompost as this composting material easily turns into dirt anyway.
Notes: Keep in mind that the layer of sand should be free of dirt because the purpose is to filter out extra moisture from getting into your container while also preventing smells from getting out; unless you are trying to blend vermicompost with manure then go ahead and include manure as one of your layers.
To keep the air inside your vermicomposting bin fresh, it is important to ensure that you have a good ventilation system in place. Make sure there are no openings and cracks where unwanted bugs can easily get into your container.
You will also want to make sure that there are holes at the bottom of the bin or flaps that can be used for aerating the contents and letting water drain out of your worm bin when necessary.
Vermin, such as rodents, cockroaches, ants, etc., love moist environments with plenty of food around so make sure to store your compost in an area where these creatures won’t be able to gain access too easily.
Vermicompost is the way to go if you are looking for the best organic alternative to your farm or garden. Other than the benefits it comes with, and the small number of disadvantages, storing and preserving the potency is not hard.
You just have to put it in a place where the elements have nothing on it. By doing so, the potency of your vermicompost will last you for more than a couple of months. If you already know how to make vermicompost at home, then this article has just shown you the best way to prolong the shelf life of vermicompost.
Take time and build your storage area for the vermicompost and be rest assured that you won’t be disappointed by the results you get from vermicomposting.