Red Wiggler Composting Worms

Red Wiggler Homecoming

A week following our big day, an even bigger day–in the form of a Red Wriggler Homecoming–was in store for the Southern Beaches Community Garden.

Red Wiggler Worms
Tom Symmons from Worms Downunder

It’d be then, on Thursday, March 5th—amidst grey skies and torrential rain—Tom Symmons from Worms Downunder (based out of Chandler, QLD) would arrive with the SBCG’s newest, most anticipated members in tow.

Worms. But not just any worms.

Red wiggler composting worms. Lots and lots of them.

Five kilograms or, to be a bit more precise, something in the vicinity of 20,000 worms.

Delivered and spread out amidst their moist cocopeat and straw bedding inside the SBCG’s Double Grande Worm Habitat, the red wigglers would begin their settling in process.

It was an impressive sight, seeing those little magical creepy crawlies set loose in their new home. But, not nearly as impressive as the Red Wigglers themselves. At least, according to the incredibly thorough and enlightening literature provided in the Worms Downunder information pack.

For example, did you know the worms:

Red Wiggler Worms
Getting Settled In
  • Breathe through their skin as they don’t have any lungs
  • Are hermaphrodites (they all have both male and female reproductive organs)
  • Are sensitive to light to the point where paralysis can occur within one hour
  • Can die if their skin becomes too dry
  • Cannot regulate their body temperature as they’re cold-blooded

 

In addition to body temperature, ambient temperature plays a major factor in the rate at which the Red Wigglers feed. Too high or too low a

temperature takes the worms out of their ideal comfort zone, greatly reducing the amount of food they consume.

However, in an ideal, well-maintained environment, Red Wigglers are capable of eating anywhere from 50 to 100% of their body weight in organic matter PER DAY.

Red Wiggler Composting Worms
Red Wigglers–A Garden’s Best Friend

So it stands to reason, then, the more worms, the better.

And the best part…?

You don’t have to worry about having to cull any of your Red Wiggler worm population as the little critters are as clever as they are hungry. Clever in that their reproduction is self-regulated in direct proportion to the size of their environment.

Regulated to the point where, in ideally maintained conditions, the worms can double their numbers once every three months.

Which, for the SBCG’s Double Grande Worm Habitat, will eventually equate to 80,000 Red Wigglers…

All doing their part in processing upwards of 40 litres of green waste a day, producing nutrient, soil-enriching worm ‘castings’  and helping to remove vast quantities of methane producing green waste from our local landfills.

A win-win for the SBCG and the local community alike.

 

 

 

 

 

MP Karen Andrews & SBCG Members

The Big Day

For the Southern Beaches Community Garden, February 28th would be the big day.

Double Grande Worm Habitat
Double Grande in Transit to its final home.

An auspicious coming together of garden members, neighbours, McPherson MP Karen Andrews and the owner of Brisbane based Worms Downunder, Jen Symmons.

The day would see the delivery of the SBCG’s new baby; a Double Grande Worm Habitat from Worms Downunder based in Chandler.

Compliments of MP Karen Andrews’ Communities Environment Grant, once set up and fully operational, the Double Grande Worm Farm Habitat will be ready to handle upwards of 40 litres of green waste per day.

In doing so, the Double Grande will help remove approximately 3 tonnes of biodegradable waste from landfill per

Double Grande Worm Habitat Demo
Worm Farming 101 in session care of Worms Downunder owner Jen Symmons

year…

All while creating soil enriching worm castings considered by many to be some of the best all-natural fertiliser found anywhere.

Yes, the excitement and anticipation was real.

Real enough to create an adrenaline fuelled, engineering inspired epiphany of sorts. One that would see the garden’s new 200 kilo worm farm put on three rollers and pushed and navigated through tight quarters the last 25 metres…

Eventually into position at its permanent home beside the SBCG propagation tunnel located in front of the garden clubhouse.

MP Karen Andrews & Jen Symmons
Worm farm banter between friends

And it’d be there where, five hours later, the Worms Downunder owner would take the helm by giving various garden members, along with an inquisitive Karen Andrews herself, an in-depth tour and description of the community garden’s newest attraction.

It would take a bit of imagination on everyone’s part. This, because the process of properly setting up and wetting

SBCG Tour for MP Karen Andrews
Garden Tour compliments of SBCG President Marian Evans.

down the habitat’s straw and coco peat’s bedding requires that the worms be delivered at a later date.

But even so, the combination of the habitat’s various moving parts coupled with Jen’s thoroughly informative talk on vermiculture painted a picture that kept everyone fascinated.

All of which proved the perfect segue for a private garden tour for the MP and her assistants compliments of SBCG President Marian Evans.

MP Karen Andrews & SBCG Members
MP Karen Andrews and new friends.

A tour which, once complete, would see the MP’s party departing with a couple potted plants as mementos of their time at the SBCG.

And the SBCG with rewarding memories of their own.

And more importantly, with the inclination to get their Double Grande Worm Habitat running at maximum capacity as quickly and effectively as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

Niamph Williams & Hester Clark

The Duke of Edinburgh Award-The Tradition Continues at the SBCG

In 1956, Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh had a plan. He wanted to set up an awards program which would recognise adolescents and young adults for completing a series of self-improvement activities. The ultimate goal of the program being to help young people discover their full potential by finding their purpose, passion and place in the world.

SBCG
Co-workers, mentors, friends. Natalia Ribeiro (L) and Hana Smith (R)

To achieve this award, each young person would need to participate in a four part process. A process which revolves around physical recreation, skills, community service and participating in a team adventure in a new environment. All while under the guidance of award leaders, supervisors and accessors.

Today the Duke of Edinburgh Award has expanded to 144 countries with over 8 million young adults having participated in the past 55 plus years of its existence. And in Australia alone, the Duke of Edinburgh Award has seen over 775,000 young people participate.

Young people like 14 year olds, Niamh Williams and Hester Clark of Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School in Terranora, NSW.

For a period of three months, both Niamh and Hester have collectively worked 26 hours under the guidance of SBCG

SBCG Propagation Tunnel
Planting Seedlings

Community Engagement Officer Di Gunther. In that time their activities and subsequent accomplishments have been numerous.

These activities and tasks involved garden projects including seeding and weeding along with general garden beautification projects. Projects such as designing murals for the garden white board and composting bins, installing and decorating the wooden frames around the garden’s worm farm baths and assisting garden member Hana

Smith decorate large bulk containers with colourful and engaging sunflower and bumble bee scenes.

Additionally, the two friends also designed a folder containing various seedlings that are distributed at community workshops so the recipients can see what the plant will look like once it matures. And at the Palmy Festival, Niamh

SBCG Wicking Beds
Creative Helping Hands

donated her time at the Children’s Workshop answering questions and assisting the ever inquisitive youngsters in preparing and taking home a decorated pot with their choice of seedling.

In the end, it’s simply safe to say, it’s been a very hands on few months for two very busy bees. All of which has been incredibly appreciated.

“The girls have been a credit to the youth of today,” says Gunther who adds such a positive experience will see her being

Palmy Festival
Niamh assisting at the Palmy Festival

very proactive in inviting many more young people into the garden. “The artwork they have helped create has been happy and injects colour into the garden space and ignites the imagination of all ages…More families have joined since the girls have been involved and when asked why, they simply state they enjoy the welcoming feeling they get when walking around the garden.”

As for how two teenagers managed to find themselves in the SBCG garden in the first place, that can be largely attributed to Niamh’s mother, Fiona, who, as fate would have it, herself participated in The Duke of Edinburgh back in 1988-89 while in school in Ireland. (Fittingly, Niamh’s father, Paul, completed his program in 1984-85 in England).

Fiona says she was struggling to find a project to fulfil the community service portion of the award until a couple lunch break discussions with Di—the two are co-workers in the mental health department  at Tweed Hospital– parted the clouds in what everyone seems to feel has been a very symbiotic working relationship.

Hester Clark & Niamph Williams
Beautification Projects and Smiles

“It’s been good to see how everyone at the garden works as a team to make projects come together,” says Hester.

And Niamh, “I now have a greater interest in doing planting and gardening projects at home,” before adding a sentiment both rising high schoolers share. “Thank you to Di, Hana and everyone else at the garden for making this such a positive experience.”

All of which is, no doubt, everything Prince Phillip could’ve hoped for.