Students Learn about Vermiculture

BY AMANDA MOSES

Although we are still feeling the bitter chill of winter this month by late March spring will finally be upon us. In preparation for the spring season, Garden Educator, Jacqui Roytman is teaching her students all about composting. She met with students in Gateway Intermediate School (IS) 364’s science class and taught them about Vermiculture, which is a process of creating fresh compost with worms.

“There are different ways to re-cycle and compost our garbage,” said Roytman, who explained that the compost the worms create would later be used in the soil for the Spring Creek’s Recreation Fund’s (SCRF) Urban Garden Classroom (UGC).

Composting is the process of taking green waste (food, leaves, and other organic materials) and waiting for it to break down into nutrient rich soil. “Vermi-composting is a fun and easy way to recycle our food scraps and produce a natural, healthy soil that’s a perfect addition to our garden,” said Roytman.

The group of seventh graders sat on the edges of their seats in anticipation because vermicomposting uses Red Wiggly Worms. These little creatures will reside in a bin filled with the green waste (scraps of grapes, strawberries, apples, bananas, carrots, etc.), which will serve as the worm’s food. After the worms digest the green waste, they deposit casts filled with microorganisms (free of any pathogenic bacteria because it is killed in the worm’s stomach) creating nutritious compost for healthy plant growth.

“Vermicom-posting and using a worm bin requires very little work, produces no offensive odors and provides worm castings that will help plants thrive,” said Roytman.

The students discussed the parts of a worm, how they eat and how the digested food turns into compost. “Worms do not have any limbs, so they use their strong muscles to move forward and backwards. They eat food that we enjoy, like fruits and vegetables, as well as items that are not edible for humans like; newspapers, card-board and even banana peels. Worms do not have teeth to help them chew their food, so they can only eat food when it’s rotting and sometimes it has mold on it and that’s just the way they like their food,” said Roytman.

In order to start vermicom-posting, Roytman provided the class with a small container filled with Peat Moss. After getting about 2,000 worms settled in the moist medium, she then dug a hole where she added scrapes (which she had blended in a food processor). The students observed the worms and after the lesson ended, the worms were covered and left to enjoy their food.