Add compost worms to worm farms

Earthworms do wonders for  your soil. They burrow through the soil eating pieces of leaves and other bits of plants and once inside the worms’ gut, tiny bacteria break down the plant material into a form that plants can use. So their droppings (known as wormcastings) enrich the soil. Worms also open up the soil and bring air into it, which is essential for small animals and plants living in the soil. If you have earthworms, you have healthy soil and the more you have the healthier it is.
Compost worms and worm farm worms are different from the ones normally found in the soil. They are introduced worms, the most common being reds and tigers.
Worm farms
There are lots of different worm farms for sale but in all of them you feed the worms on kitchen waste, torn up newspapers, straw and leaves and they produce wormcastings and a liquid, both of which are full of the nutrients your plants need. You can make your own worm farm or you can buy one. The bought ones are easier to operate especially if you have a flat or very small garden. For more than 15 years I have had a Reln worm farm and it is still going strong.

Tumbleweed worm cafe is the modern incarnation of my old Reln worm farm.

The Can of Worms worm farm is great for children

These worm farms are now sold as Tumbleweed worm farms and have been modified and improved over the intervening years.

They are made from 100% recycled plastic and the company is 100% Australian owned. Their two best-selling worm farms are Can-o-worms and Worm Factory. So if you want to buy a worm farm their website would be a good place to start. But if you have a bit more space it is also fairly simple to make your own.

 

 

 
To build your own worm farm you will need

Home made worm farm

• Something that provides a frame, such as a bathtub (preferably an old one! and don’t forget to block the plug hole), a large tin, a wooden box, or even bricks and planks that can be made into a box and lined with plastic. The container needs to be at least 30 cm deep.
• A position where it doesn’t get too hot in summer.
• Garden soil
• Food such as grass clippings, garden clippings, kitchen waste, leaves, manure, coffee grounds, straw and shredded paper. Worms like their food in small pieces, so chop up whatever you are putting in. Worms don’t like orange and lemon peel, garlic and onions, but even these they will eventually eat, just don’t put in too much.
• Worms. Buy these from a worm farmer or plant nursery or get some out of your compost or from a neighbour. If you don’t have a worm farmer nearby look them up in the phone book because most worm farmers will send worms through the mail.
• Moist, hessian bags or thick wads of newspaper, or an old woollen jumper or cotton shirt to place over the surface. This helps to keep the worms moist but not too wet.
• A removable cover. This needs to be placed over the farm to stop heavy rain from flooding the worms.

Chop the kitchen scraps.

Put the food scraps on top of the coir or compost.

Shredded paper is good worm food

Cover the worm farm with an old cotton shirt

Collecting worm juice

 

Once you have either bought a worm farm or constructed one then put it into position and spread about 5 cm of moistened soil, compost or coir over the bottom of the container, add about 5 cm of food.

Water the whole thing but only until it is moist, not really wet. Add a handful of worms and cover with the damp newspaper, hessian, jumper or shirt. Then place the removable cover over the top. Check the bin at least once a week and add food, also water if the farm looks like it might be drying out.
Every few months scrape the worms and wormcastings down to one end of the worm farm and put fresh soil and food up the other end. After a few days all the worms will move into the fresh food and you can remove the wormcastings easily without taking any worms out. If you have purchased a worm farm then you simply move the empty bin to the top, add soil, coir and food and the worms will migrate up

The worm castings are spread over the soil and add a whole range of useful nutrients. They are really good for pot plants, especially if you are growing herbs and vegies in pots. The worm juice that collects in the bottom of the farm is diluted with about five times as much water and can be watered over any plant but again particularly vegetables and pot plants.

Have fun, worms are so important in our gardens and its great having your own worm farm. Just think, hundreds of new pets!

If you want to know more about worms and worm farms then Earthworms in Australia is a great place to start, especially for the serious worm farmer. Borrow a copy from your library, buy it from your local bookshop or buy a copy online from my store.