Worm farms make great use of your food scraps and garden waste to produce compost and fertiliser that are excellent for growing your garden. The types of composting worms that live inside of a worm farm are usually tiger worms and red worms. Their job is to munch through your organic waste to produce worm castings and worm tea for your garden. Get started with your worm farm by first choosing an ideal spot that is cool and kept shaded from the sun. Beneath your porch or underneath the car port may provide the ideal shelter to get your worm farm up and running. Bed out your worm farm with damp and porous materials such as hay or shredded cardboard to create a cosy habitat for your new pets.
Starting a Worm Farm
Introduce up to 2000 worms (500g) to your newly-created worm farm and make sure to feed them roughly the equivalent to their own body weight each day (450g). Worms do not enjoy the light but they do need air flow, so cover your food scraps up with some damp newspaper to keep their environment dark and cosy.
Feed your worms 70% green waste and 30% brown waste. The more greens the better, as these are full of nitrogen that makes it easier for the worms to decompose:
- Fruit & vege scraps
- Coffee grounds & loose leaf tea
- Animal manure
- Vacuum dust
Brown waste is made up of carbon, usually dry and lacking in moisture, meaning that it takes longer for the worms to breakdown:
- Dead leaves
- Paper and cardboard (torn up and wet if possible)
- Dry lawn clippings
Worm Farm Food
Remember that your worms do have sensitive taste, just like us, so be sure not to feed them:
- Spicy food
- Ginger, onion & garlic
- Meat and dairy
- Gluten (bread and pasta)
- Cooked or processed food
- Citrus or acidic foods
- Oils and liquids
The best way to grow your worm farm population and keep your pets happy and healthy is by adding the right balance of nourishing food scraps regularly, every 1-2 days. Cut food up small enough for them to digest more easily and start by feeding them small amounts. Increase their food intake over time (~6 months), this way you won’t overwhelm them by overfeeding. Building up feeding amounts gradually ensures that the worm farm population will grow to match the rate of food available to be eaten, so that eventually they can consume all of your food waste quickly and efficiently.
Worm Farm Compost
Harvest worm castings (composted material) from below, since worms feed from the top of the worm farm. You know that your worm castings are ready when it resembles a dark, fine compost and there are few worms left around munching on it. Spread worm castings around your garden beds, or liquify it by adding one part compost to ten parts water well-stirred.
Worm tea gets harvested by allowing liquid to drain off freely into a bucket or via an open, running tap attached to your worm farm. Dilute worm team using the same ratio as compost, outlined above. It should resemble a weak, black tea in colouration. Worm tea is a strong natural fertiliser for plant roots, so use it sparingly (once every 2-4 weeks).
Worm farms are great value for money, easy to set-up, and don’t require much of a time commitment. Easy to use, high quality compost makes a real difference to your garden. Whilst worm farms may not be the fastest method of composting, they do create their very own living ecosystem offering a great way to teach kids about waste and decomposition.