Felicity Gordon’s worm farm tips
Felicity Gordon, from Watsonia, tells you all you need to know about worm farming.
- When setting up the worm farm whether in a plastic, commercial kit or using recycled materials such as an old bath or polystyrene box or wooden crate, line the container with soaked coconut coir (or even shredded newspaper or decomposed compost) to about half the box depth. Worms need lots of bedding to be happy.
- Do not over-feed the worms – add regular small amounts of food chopped into 1-2cm size pieces, in a layer 1-2cm deep, so that the worms can eat through this without there being too much that might turn into a slimy mess. If it does get too wet, add some dry leaves or fibre as you would in a compost heap. A ratio of 2:1 green to brown material is best. 1-2kg of food a week is ideal for a plastic, commercial-size worm farm. Adjust for other types and sizes.
- Do not feed worms citrus, garlic, onion or chillis (all of which which make the farm too acidic and the worms don’t like them), or dairy or meat scraps (both of which can attract flies).
- Keep the worm farm moist but not wet and, if you go away for a couple of weeks, add some extra moisture by way of moist pea straw or lucerne, having topped up the moisture level as well. If your worm farm becomes too dry, use a watering can to re-moisten it and collect the worm tea that the extra water flushes out.
- If you feed your worms horse poo, make sure that the horses have not recently been wormed or suffer their death!
- Keep your worms in the dark. Cover the food in the box with hessian or carpet or even damp newspaper to retain the moistness and to provide darkness as the worms will bury deep down away from light and your food. Also, keep the box in a shady, cool place and, if this is not possible, shade it with shade cloth or place under a tree.
- Worm farms generally have 2 or 3 containers, with a top container for the bedding and food and where the castings are produced (worm poo), a bottom container for collection of the liquid (worm wee), and a spare to replace the top one when it is full. When the top container is full of worm castings – it looks like rich, black compost – remove it carefully and use the contents on the garden or on pot plants.
- Dilute worm tea – the liquid that flows from the bottom box once you turn on your worm farm tap – by 1:10 as it is very concentrated. Use on plants in beds (including wicking beds) and pots.
- Buy packs of worms from your local nursery. Worm farms need a specific type of worm. Garden worms are not suitable.
It’s 40c today and I have placed a 4″ deep tub on my can of worms, filled it with water and placed the ends of two soaked hessian sacks in the tub and let them drape down the sides – the hessian absorbs the water and as it evaporates keeps the whole farm cool. The idea is from a Coolgardie.
With a commercial black worm farm established, should I have 2 or 3 layers (not counting the very bottom where juice collects). I have a dilemma over this in a community garden!
Can you transfer worms from a buried ‘ barrel compost bin’ into the garden? My bin is full and I need to empty it. Will the worms survive?
The answer to your question is “it depends”. Compost worms are not the same as garden earthworms and, unlike earthworms, they stay on the surface. So, they can only survive if you have a surface layer of fresh organic material like manures and mulch which both provides them with food and gives them a moist environment.