Compost comes in many forms; manure from a variety of domesticated farm animals, broken down vegetable scraps and food waste from the kitchen, piles of decomposed leaves and garden trimmings, and even more in depth processes using biodynamic preparations. Essentially composting is the “process by which organisms such as bacteria, worms and insects help turn fruit and vegetable waste into a nutrient-rich soil amendment.” Many home gardeners know composting as putting your vegetable and food wastes in a bucket or bin, covering it with dry material such as sawdust or straw, and then waiting for some time until in turns into a rich dark soil-like consistency ready to be put back into the garden.
There is another way of composting that uses a good friend of both small scale gardeners and farmers alike: The worm. Aristotle called them the intestines of the earth. Even though we do not see it, worms are working hard and are an essential part of agriculture and the work that happens in the soil. As they move through the earth they not only turn the soil which increases the amount of air and water that gets in but they also eat up organic matter like leaves and grass and leave behind castings which are a highly nutrient rich fertilizer.
By enclosing them in a bin, providing a soft bedding, and feeding them with vegetable scraps and food wastes, worms also make what is known as vermicompost. Even more nutrient rich than normal compost. It is an easy way for home gardeners and farmers to get a rich compost for their production. To learn more about the process, which worms to use, what size bin, and everything else take a look at this easy to read question and answer presentation put forward by oregonmetro.