A Look at Different Vermicomposts

Yesterday, for some strange reason, I suddenly felt compelled to shoot a short video about different kinds of vermicompost. What you see above was actually meant as a totally rough practice run. I literally turned on the camera (my trusty point-and-shoot digital) sat down, and started talking.

That won’t likely come as any major surprise for most people watching! lol

What’s cool, though, is the fact that I decided to “let go” of my perfectionist tendencies (which, ironically, don’t result in much better videos) and used it basically as-is. This was especially surprising given the fact that this is technically the first of my own videos with me in front of the camera (and let’s just say those 4 hours of “beauty sleep” the night before last didn’t exactly work wonders – haha).

I should point out that the original inspiration for this video came from my composting “brother from another mother”, Tyler Weaver, who creates lots of cool (on camera) videos for his Crazy About Compost website. In particular, a recent video Tyler shared with me called “When is Your Compost Ready to Use” (see video below) – along with his interesting “Clash of the Composts” series – got me to thinking a lot more about this topic in general.

The terms “compost” and “vermicompost” seem to represent something specific and rigid in the minds of many people – yet there are countless different kinds of these materials, not to mention levels of “quality” (which, as I discuss in my video, can be rather subjective, depending on what sort of application you have in mind for the material). There are many different factors that can come into play here – things like…

– starting materials (a huge one that a lot of people seem to overlook)
– experience of person making the composts
– specific techniques/system being used
– length of composting period and curing period (if applicable)

…to name just a few.

Of course – as I point out – there are still some qualities we should keep in the back of our minds when trying to determine if any type of compost is “ready”:

1) Dark color – which can be an indication that the humification (stabilization) process has taken place.
2) Nice earthy smell – typically the result of beneficial microbes known as actinomycetes. A compost should NEVER smell bad, since this is almost always going to be an indication of anaerobic processes at work.
3) Somewhat crumbly texture – again, important to point out that a decent vermicompost can still be somewhat “gooey” yet still have a nice texture to it (shouldn’t be wet/muddy though).
4) Nice uniform appearance in general. I didn’t mention this one in the video, but it’s another one to keep in mind.

Just as a related aside – I just loved this line from my video:

One of the qualities consistent among these three…dark color, crumbly…and that nice earthy smell.”

OK, so maybe I’ve never been all that good at math!


Getting back to these indicators of finished compost…

It’s important to point out that these are not foolproof! If some of your starting materials happen to be dark, uniform in appearance and reasonably earthy smelling, there might be the tendency to assume you’ve got a top notch, “finished” material sooner than you do.

Anyway – topics like this tend to open up the proverbial “can of worms” (which seems especially appropriate in this case! lol), so perhaps we’ll end up with an interesting discussion as a result.

Regardless, I’m definitely happy that I decided to shoot this video since it’s been an important reminder of the fact that this can be a fun (and not overly time-consuming) way to share information on various topics! I am looking forward to doing more – hopefully with a wee bit more planning and “polish” (lol), while still keeping things “real”.

As for the three vermicomposts featured in my video, I’m actually planning to do my own little “Clash of the [Vermi]composts” (thanks again to Tyler for the inspiration) and see how they stack up against eachother.

Stay tuned!

P.S. I DID upload a YouTube version of my video as well but I must have messed up some settings since the picture quality was terrible (the one thing I don’t like about YouTube is the fact that you don’t know you’ve messed up until the video is uploaded and all your subscribers have been notified! lol) – so I opted for a self-hosted version above.

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    • John
    • June 21, 2012

    Thanks for the video. Hope to see some more soon!

    • thuan
    • June 21, 2012

    Should vermicast be stored in a damp condition? Would the beneficial bacterias die if the vermicast dried out? In the video, the stuff on the right looks dry while the middle is more of what I get from the worm inn, damp but more in clumps and hard to sift into finer particles. Anyway, I rarely get any leftover to store and if there are any leftover, I usually make worm tea and use it all up within a month!

    • John Duffy
    • June 21, 2012

    Great video! I can only hope to produce that much VC one day.
    My worms have been a bit sluggish lately due to the 90*+ temps we’ve been having. I’ve been cooling them down with frozen watermelon rinds.

    • Bentley
    • June 22, 2012

    John & John – thanks for the encouragement.
    Thuan – vermicompost should always be kept at least somewhat moist. If it is allowed to turn to dry powder that will indeed have a negative effect on the microbes etc. All vermicomposts in the video are at least somewhat moist (and what I would consider “good quality”), but yes, the one in the middle is definitely more typical of a small home system.

    • Andy
    • August 7, 2012

    Great video. I have a worm factory set-up at home and it’s chugging along pretty good. I have yet to “harvest” any compost, so I found this article and video very helpful.


    • Rose
    • October 23, 2012

    You mentioned curing for the middle bin. How much time did you let it cure?

    • Mary
    • December 6, 2014

    My first attempt at raising worms…bin is WET….lots of small, thin red wrigglers and a lot white grub- looking things at the bottom…not much recognizable, only some shredded newsprint bits…the bag of worm castings I purchased locally looks like the fertilizer called Vermiculite( which is dehydrated sludge) but without any odor. I thought that was the finished product I was aiming for but my sludge would take forever to dry out to that point and you indicated above that letting it dry out would rob it of its nutrients. Am I way off target expecting a healthy, drier finished product ? And what’s to be done with these white, fat grubbies ? Thanks for all your work and informationals.

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