Monday, September 8, 2008

Make your own Worm Farm

This article had a little bit of guidance from a post found on Sustainability Victoria, which now seems to have disappeared off their website. It's a wok in progress project for us, so we make no guarantee that it will work, but I see no reason it wont. Our aims were to keep it as easy and cheap as possible, so in reach of almost everyone's budgets and limitations.

Worm Farms are great ways of making fertilizer from food scraps in any rental property with a bit of space. You can buy worm farms with everything you need, but they're quite expensive ($100+) and larger, it's not too hard to make your own, here's how!

Find yourself three (in fact two initially, the third is for future expansion) containers, old polystyrene vegetable boxes like the one pictured below are ideal.

We'll start here with two boxes and add a third in the future, so take one box and using a sharp implement (I used a small screwdriver) make some holes in it's base, they don't need to be particularly regular, but you will need a fair few

These holes are for oxygen, but also for the worms urine (which forms one part of the fertilizer) to pass through into the second box below. Ending up with something like this.

Next you need something to cover the bottom of the box, to allow the urine to pass through but so the worms don't fall through, we used several layers of newspaper, which should hopefully work. We also placed a few sheets of dampened paper around the inner edges of the box.

Next we add the worms! When I first started down this path I thought I could go digging in the garden and chuck a few earth worms in a box. Firstly you actually need special worms and secondly you need about 1000 of them to start, so I would have been there for a hell of a long time! This is the singly most expensive part of the process, but 1000 worms cost me $50 and included a healthy amount of dirt for the worms to live in. Carefully pour the worms on top of the news paper and evenly spread them about.

Next add another thin layer of paper on top of the worms, paper is mainly good to balance out the heavy nitrogen content of the food scraps.

Now it's time for the food scraps, again spread them thinly and don't put too much in at once. Ensure everything is nice and moist, when we made our worm farm it was raining, ensuring that everything was sufficiently damp!

Now find a cool and shady spot and something to raise your farm off the ground (perhaps an ever helpful milk crate weighed down with some bricks), place this box (with it's lid) on top of our unmodified box and voila!

Add your food scraps on a regular basis, ensuring that you don't add too much
, keep everything damp and be patient, things wont happen overnight.

We shall return to this topic as we discover more and as our own little farm develops.


What composting worms like to eat
- Plate scrapings (cooked vegetables and stewed fruit leftovers)
- Fruit peelings (not too much orange or lemon peel)
- Vegetable scraps and peelings (not too many onions)
- Hair clippings and vacuum cleaner dust
- Stale biscuits and cakes
- Coffee grounds and tea bags
- Crushed egg shells
- Saw dust
- Soaked cardboard

What composting worms don't like to eat
- Manures
- Acidic foods (onions, citrus, garlic, shallots)
- Garden waste
- Dairy products
- Meat