Looking for some hard working, low maintenance house mates that also benefit the planet? Look no further than the humble earthworm!
Worm farming is cold composting for garden waste. The worms’ job is to live at your place and decompose organic matter. They work really hard to provide our gardens with the most powerful products called ‘vermicast’ (worm casts) as well as liquid waste which is highly concentrated liquid fertiliser that can be collected, diluted in 10:1 ratio and sprayed or watered over plants and seedlings.
There are many types of worm farms on the market or you can make your own out of some containers. Start with a solid base, then add others with perforations on top. The aim is to build layers for the worms to move through. Look for a base that collects the liquid, which will drain from the top, and a tap at the bottom means it’s possible to collect the liquid in a bucket to dilute 10:1. There are some great websites to help you get started.
If you think these guys need a lot of room to work their magic, think again! Composting worms are ideal for those of us that only have a small space to farm too.
When setting up any worm farm, avoid the hot afternoon sun. A cool, dry space is ideal. Keeping the farm moist with damp hessian cloth or wet newspapers on the top layer is very important too. They will eat the newspaper so keep replacing it.
Worms like food scraps, especially pumpkin skins! They also love eggshells, but it’s important to crunch them up a bit first. Coffee grinds and tea leaves are also great. Avoid citrus or onions which are acidic. I don’t use meat or dairy either.
Keep in mind that worms in a farm can eat twice their body weight so the bigger your farm the more waste it eliminates and turns to goodness for your garden!
I have been worm farming for years after buying one from a local manufacturer made out of a standard sulo style bin. I love that my kitchen food scraps and waste as well as the habitual weekend papers are being disposed of responsibly, in my own backyard. Being an avid gardener knowing that I can make my own vermicast which is a potent chemical-free fertiliser I can dilute also makes me happy. Plus, it aids in holding in moisture and improving soil condition so my garden loves it!
A worm farm is a great activity for the whole family and addition to any household. If everyone got themselves a worm farm our compostable garbage would be reduced by 1 tonne per person per year. Keeping food and garden waste out of landfill helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as the rate we fill our landfill spaces.