Starr Valley Farms
        of Ann Arbor
Terminology & Information

Photo: Flickr/Mely-o

The U.S. EPA estimates that each American throws away an average of 1.3 pounds of food scraps dailyThe average family of four generates about 7 pounds of compostable waste each week.The combination of food waste, along with yard refuge, makes up 24 percent of our nation’s municipal solid waste stream.

What is vermicomposting?
Common names & search terms for personal web research: 
Referring to the process of using earthworms to turn organic waste into vermicompost -- also known as vermicast, worm compost, worm castings, worm humus or worm manure -- a high quality all natural 
(organic) fertilizer and soil conditioner. 

Beds vs. Bins
For the sake of clarity on our site please note: Generally speaking when we say "worm bed" we are referring to larger outdoor permanent in-ground systems. When we mention "worm bin" we generally mean smaller systems usually kept indoors that can be easily relocated. Bins can also be free standing wood structures staged on porches, patios or in your yard near a garden.

Where can I vermi-compost?
A worm bin or bed can be setup indoors or outdoors, as long as it remains at a temperature between 40 and 80 degrees. Larger well balanced & healthy outdoor beds are able to maintain temperatures within this range all year round. Many people place small bins in inconspicuous areas indoors like kitchens, basements, garages or laundry rooms. A healthy system has little to no oder but if they do it's usually a slightly sweet and earthy smell that plant people like us actually enjoy. An offensive smelling system is the sign of an unhealthy system and measures must be taken quickly to balance the habitat. There are a few reasons for a stinky bin but in most cases it is one or more of the following three issues; Over feeding, overheating, or neglect.

Who does the work?         

Red Wriggler earthworms (Eisenia Foetida or Fetida). In our experience, by far the best worm for the job.These hearty worms reproduce quickly and can eat more than their own weight in food each day. They are able to survive well in a variety of climates. 

What exactly do they eat?

It is easier to list what worms have trouble digesting than to list what they do digest and compost well. These guys can really eat just about anything organic, but like us, certain foods just don't agree with them therefore not allowing for optimum composting. 

Not on the menu: Cheese (dairy), bread (in large amounts), fruits high in citrus, "hot" variety peppers. Just to be clear...they will eat these things however they are not recommended in terms of achieving optimal composting condition. We have been doing this for along time and experience tells us to shy away from these things. 
The only absolute "no, no never" is meat. Most people are horrified when we tell them not to feed their worms meat or they will grow teeth! Then we get a good laugh when we tell them we are just kidding, but meat!. It will go rancid and rot, basically ruining your system most likely killing your worms as well.
Just kidding! This is not a real worm, and no they do not ever grow teeth.


Worm CastingsVermicast, similarly known as worm castings, worm humus or worm manure, is the end-product of the breakdown of organic matter by earthworms.

Worm Tea: Derived by a process of leaching highly oxygenated H2o through aged worm castings for liquid applications. 

Here on the farm we recognize the establishing of one's own steady source of organic fertilizer as a major step towards self sustained living. It is always a kick for us to see a person's excitement grow as quickly as their gardening skill after utilizing their own source of organic plant food. The results are truly astounding. We offer castings by the pound and worm tea in 1gal, 16 or 32 oz bottles. The tea is great to try out initially to see the results for yourself. Our gardens and plants take a steady diet of tea both for watering and foliar misting. A great treat for your favorite indoor plant! It is pretty cool to have fresh blooming flowers in the middle of January.


Vermicompost & Tea 

(Plant health benefits)

Plant Diseases Suppressed

Foliar diseases

  • Botrytis
  • Powdery mildew
  • Plectosporium blight
  • Septoria lycopersici - tomato leaf spot
  • Alternaria solani - early blight

Soil borne diseases

  • Pythium
  • Rhizoctonia
  • Fusarium
  • Schlerotinia
  • Club root Plasmodiophora brassicae
  • Verticillium wilt
  • Phytophthora
  • Phomopsis

Close up - Eisenia Foetida

Feeding ball - They found something they like and flock to it.

Extreme Close up - Eisenia Foetida