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Worm farms rock

Worm farms rock

Updated 1 December 2014 9:09am

Worms in hand

A worm farm (or wormery) is a highly efficient, year-round way to dispose the organic waste your household produces. It's ideal if you don't have much of a garden or you live in a flat, and if it's working well, doesn't smell or attract flies.

The worms eat the waste and excrete it as 'castings' - a fancy name for worm poo. It can go directly onto your pot plants or garden, or be made into home-made liquid fertiliser, simply by mixing it with water till it looks like weak tea.

Very good poo

A wormery is a self-contained composting system that retains most nutrients for reuse. The digestive system of the worm helps produce concentrated compost with about four times the plant nutrition of ordinary compost.

Very productive

You'd be surprised how much waste worms can get through. In fact, even a small wormery can dispose of all the fruit and vegetable waste produced by a household of four. The worms compact the rubbish they eat, down to a tenth of its original volume.

Easy to set up

You can buy worms from a number of sources - 

You can also buy worm bins. They come in a variety of sizes - look for them in hardware or gardening shops.

However, it's quite easy to make your own:

  • Find a shallow (20-40cm deep) plastic bin or wooden crate with a relatively large surface area, or an old bath tub
  • Drill or punch 10mm holes at the bottom for drainage and air
  • Mount the tray on old bricks or blocks so it's off the ground and air can circulate. Position a tray underneath to catch the worm 'tea'
  • Put bedding material in like shredded paper (avoid toxic inks), cardboard, straw, aged manure or compost. It should be damp but not wet. Mix in a little coarse sand or top soil. Fill your container with bedding to about half or three quarters full. Don't compress it - the bedding needs to remain aerated
  • Add your worms (up to 10,000), and cover the bed to keep light out and moisture in. Old carpet works well
  • Feed your worms daily by burying your kitchen waste just below the surface of the bedding
  • To harvest, scoop off the top 150mm which hosts most of the worms and set aside to reuse. Empty the castings below, replace the top layer and top it up with some fresh bedding.

What your worms will eatSchool worm farm

Worms are big eaters and will deal to a surprising variety of things - even hair! Remember however they don't have teeth, so you need to keep the scraps small. Things you can give them include:

  • Vegetable and fruit peelings and waste from vegetable juicers
  • Egg shells
  • Soaked and ripped pizza boxes
  • Paper and tissues
  • Leaves.