Happy Worm Farming

A stacker worm farm on legs

I first started worm farming over ten years ago. It was the first step to getting in touch with nature and producing my own fertiliser for the plants and garden that I planned to develop. I must confess that the garden did take time to create and is still not the design or appearance I would like. However, gardens are always a work-in-progress. Putting that aside, the worm farm has been something that I have just kept going. It’s a simple matter of vegetable scraps into a billy-can and then placing the scraps into the worm farm for the worms to complete their magic. The worm farm is at the far end of the property, so the billy-can is used to transport the scraps from the kitchen to the farm.

My worms now have two households supplying them. The food scraps that I produced weren’t enough to keep the worms going. I had no choice but to enlist help from a friend, who as it turns out, is far better at producing the food scraps to go into the farm than me. They are now well-fed worms!Worm food supplies

The worms do a great job of consuming the food. When I was the only supplier, I was also away on business frequently, so the worm farm became neglected for long periods. I would return to the farm and find what can only be described as a sizable false chocolate cake! The worms had totally consumed the food! When away, I would worry about the worms, so after enlisting the extra help, the worms had fresh food scraps on a more regular basis. Meaning, the worms will not starve for lack of food. A good result all round!

Generally, worms eat more than ½ their body weight in food daily, with more than 60% of that ending up as worm casting, so feeding them daily with fresh feed all the better.   So, if you are setting up a worm farm, make sure that you have enough food supplies or can get the food suppliers as I did.

The worm food can consist of kitchen scraps such as left-over fruit, vegetables and their peelings, tea leaves and tea bags, coffee grounds and crushed eggshells. To a lesser extent, you can feed moistened paper, cardboard such as empty toilet rolls, kitchen paper towels, tissues and dust from the vacuum cleaner, and even hair, animal or human. The main task is to breakdown the food into small pieces that can be easy to consume.

Within my household, we consume large numbers of eggs, which were heading to the worm farm. However, we failed to crush the eggshells well enough and subsequently ended up with too many large eggshells within the fertiliser, so breaking down the food into small pieces is an important rule. The worms love food that has been blended, the old-style fruit blenders were convenient because of the pulp left over, but now we use the newer style fruit blenders, which do not produce the extra waste, meaning the worms lose out. Hopefully, the human family is gaining from the new style blenders and the reduced waste.

Avoid feeding the worms meat, dairy products or bread as these can attract unwanted pests. Citrus peel and tomatoes are acidic; however, small amounts can be used if well mixed in with other food. I have broken all the rules here; the consequences are not pleasant when you open the worm farm lid to have all these flying creatures attacking you.

The product output from the worms will be wee (leachate) and poo (castings). With the more you follow the rules of the correct feed and breaking down the input into smaller pieces, the better quality and faster the results will happen, meaning in better-quality fertiliser. With two households feeding my worms, the lazy option of not breaking down the food occurs frequently. There have been attempts to educate, but sometimes that must be measured against gaining the extra food supply, which is essential for my worm farm.

The leachate will find its way to the base of your worm farm, where hopefully there is a tap or another form of extracting the liquid to be able to place around the plants. I tend not to put the liquid on the garden undiluted, best to mix with some water. Rainy days can be a godsend for the mixing and using the natural resources we have in this world.

Worm castings or the false chocolate cake accumulates on the level that the food is being consumed. I have a stacker worm farm, so as one level fills up with castings, I add the next stacker-level on top and start filling that up with the food scraps. The worms migrate upwards, searching for food, so once I am satisfied that the worms have migrated to the new upper level, I remove the lower level and start using the castings.

The positioning of the worm farm in your garden is also important. Keeping your farm at a cool temperature is essential, not always in direct sun or a hot environment, as the worms will not be too happy if their environment starts to dry out. The environment needs to retain moisture levels, the ideal is damp, but not wet.

Worm farms do not smell, if your farm starts to smell, it may be the food input. Stop the food input causing the smell; it may well be the wrong type of food.

My farm has tiger worms. There are many different types of worms; however, Tiger worms are the best for the worm farm, due to the quality of the castings and leachate.

Over the last ten plus years, I have farmed worms, I have been fascinated at how easy it is.  My belief is every household should have a worm farm to get in touch with nature and see how these little creatures work, however, sadly, when I invite people to come and visit the worms, the answer is typically a polite decline. The worms themselves live under the food, so it is infrequent that you ever see a worm, unless one has got a bit adventurous and gone exploring on top of the food and been caught out when the worm farm lid is opened. Worms do not like the light and will quickly disappear down to the dark areas of their habitat under their food.

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