Worm Compost Words

Worm compost words are many and deal with various aspects of science. Rather than skimming over unfamiliar words, I thought it would be helpful, to include the definitions and pronouncements of worm, compost and soil-related terms as they appear on the website.


actinomycetes (AC-tin-o-mi-see-teez): type of photosynthetic bacteria which gives healthy soil its characteristic earthy smell.

Annelida: phylum designated name for segmented worms.

arthropod: invertebrate animals having a chitinous outer skeleton or shell with jointed legs that includes crabs,sow bugs and spiders.

bacteria: microscopic, single-celled organisms, mostly non-photosynthetic; does include photosynthetic bacteria of actinomycetes found in worm compost.

bacteriovorous: to eat or consume bacteria.

bio-degraders: decription of earthworm action that breaks down organic material.

bio-accumulators: earthworms that can take in toxic chemicals including heavy metals, organochlorine pesticide and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons,holding them in their tissues without causing harm.

bio-transformers: earthworms that are able to transform toxic elements into non-toxic elements either by concentrating or secreting or excreting or by their movement.

castings:manure that is excreted by earthworms; synonym-worm compost. Worm castings moderate the pH of the soil and provide plant growth enhancers for root growth, aid in moisture retention and soil aeration.

Chaetopoda: (key-TO-po-du); class of earthworms; Latin for "bristle feet" as all members possess hair-like structures growing from the body.

chitin:(KI-tin); glucose-based material that makes up the exoskelton of insects arthropods,shells of crustaceans; it is also present in the cell wall of fungi.

Chitinase:(KI-tin-ace);a digestive enzymes that break down glycose bonds in chitin. Because chitin composes the cell walls of fungi and exoskeletal elements of some animals (including worms and arthropods), chitinases are generally found in organisms that need to dissolve and digest the chitin of fungi or animals; substance is present in worm compost and acts as a pest deterrent.

coelomic (se-lo-mic) the main body cavity of most higher multicellular animals, in which the visceral organs are suspended.

coliform; rod-shaped bacteria of which Escherichia coli (aka: E.Coli) is the most important member. Coliforms comprise most of the intestinal flora in humans and other animals, but can also be found in the aquatic environment, in soil and on vegetation.

compost: the process of breaking down organic material by various microorganisms and/or compost worms, with the end product used to condition soil and enhance plant growth, especially in the root system.

detritivous: (de-TRI-ti-vus); the consuming of organic particles, resulting directly from disintegration, by earthworms.

Eisenia fetida: (i-sen-E-a fa-TEE-da)small composting worm that does well in closed container composting; can consume organic matter at the rate equal to their body weight every day.

fungi: microorganism found on decaying carbon-based plant material; favorite food of Eisenia fetida.See also saprophytic and mycorrhizal.

fungivorous: to eat or consume fungi.

humic acid: principal component of humic substances which are the major organic constituents of soil;increases the ability of the soil to hold nutrients in a way that can be easily taken up by plants.

humus: a brown or black complex variable material in worm compost resulting from partial decomposition of plant or animal matter and forming the organic portion of soil; often described as the “life-force” of the soil.

mycorrhizal(mi-kor-RI-zul): type of fungi that form associations with plant roots; get energy from plants and supply nutrients to plants

saprophytic: type of fungi that decomposes dead, organic matter.

trophic level: in ecology, the trophic level is the position that an organism occupies in a food chain - what it eats, and what eats it.

vermi: Latin for worm.

vermicompost: the heterogenous mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste, bedding materials, and pure worm excrement produced during the course of normal vermiculture operations; synonym- worm compost.

I hope this short lexicon of worm compost words, their meaning and pronunciations have aided you in a better understanding of the very complex world of worm compost.

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