Worm farming or worm composting, as it’s sometimes called, is a magical process. One that involves the use of unique composting worms such as ‘Redwigglers’ to eat and process green, organic waste.
In its place, the worms leave nutrient-rich wee and ‘worm castings’ that are some of nature’s best fertilizer and soil enhancers.
Here at the Southern Beaches Community Garden, you’ll see plenty of examples of worm farms.
Types of Worm Farms
The first and probably most common is the stackable, multi-tiered worm farm.
Another type is the DIY variety. These can come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles but two of the most common are large 50 litre, plastic storage
bins or bathtubs.
Regardless of the route you choose to go, it is critical to make sure your DIY worm farm is equipped with adequate ventilation and proper drainage capabilities. Failure to do so can lead to a ‘die-off’ of your worms.
And finally, located beside the SBCG’s propagation tunnel is easily one of the largest industrial options in SE Queensland. The Double Grande from Worms Downunder which, once fully operational, has the capability of processing 40 litres of green waste per day.
No matter what type of worm farm you opt to go with, getting started is straight forward.
First, line the bottom of your container with some cardboard or newspaper. This will be the foundation of your worm farm on which your next layer of actual bedding material will sit.
This bedding material can be finely shredded paper, damp leaves, or, ideally, moist cocopeat. Many store-bought worm farming kits generally include a dehydrated block of cocopeat for you to rehydrate and spread out for your worm farm’s new arrivals.
Once your worms have been placed in the bedding material you’ve chosen to use, cover everything with a ‘worm blanket’, and let your worms get settled in. A worm blanket can really be anything. An old, ratty towel, burlap bag, newspaper, or just an adequately sized piece of cardboard. Pizza boxes work great for this.
As for food, don’t worry. Your bedding material (preferably cocopeat) will both house and feed your worms initially. After a couple of days allowed for settling in, it’s time to start feeding them.
What to Feed Your Worms
The list of what to feed your worms is extensive. Essentially, composting worms will process anything organic (meaning anything once living).
Fruit and vegetable scraps and tea bags are ideal. And, especially when first starting out, make your scraps as ideally digestible as possible since composting worms actually don’t have any teeth. This means chopping, blending, and shredding your scraps. This will help speed up the composting process.
In addition to your green waste input, you should also aim to balance this out with an equal amount of ‘brown’ or carbon-based waste. A few examples of this are moistened materials such as shredded paper, coffee grounds, straw, and even aged horse and cow manure.
Balancing out your green and brown waste you will ensure proper acidity levels of your worm farm are maintained.
Foods to avoid feeding your worms include raw or cooked meat and fish, chilis, bread, cake, pasta and rice, citrus products, onion and garlic, and dairy products such as milk and cheese.
Tips to Remember
When starting out, remember to NOT OVERFEED your worms. Overfeeding is the leading cause of die-offs of worms when starting a worm farm.
Worms can eat half their bodyweight in food. So, if you’re starting out with a kilogram of worms, 500 grams of food would be the maximum you’d want to feed your worms per day.
And only once your worms have been allowed a sufficient settling in time period to adjust to their new home.
So go slow and monitor the feeding progress of your worms. Once they’ve processed at least half their food, they’ll be ready for more.
And your worm farming career will be well and truly underway.