Written by Sarah Rani
When I first heard of worm farming, I honestly thought the point of a worm farm was to multiply and farm the worms to throw in the garden. It sounds funny to me now but I’m positive that I am not the only one to have had that thought! So, if a worm farm is not for breeding the worms then what’s the point of having a worm farm and what do you need to know? Let me share what I’ve learned about my own Tumbleweed Worm Farms.
Why have a Worm Farm?
My worm farms are basically worm poo factories and they give me a constant supply of free fertiliser for my garden and plants. So, this is the purpose of a worm farm, to provide you with a rich fertiliser by using some of your discarded kitchen and household scraps. So, in addition to reducing your household waste you are benefiting from worm castings, which are gold for the garden!
Can I use regular worms from the garden in my Worm Farm?
No, worm farm worms are a different type of worm, the red wriggler worms are mini composting machines and are different to your general garden worm. You can buy worm farming worms online or at your local garden centre.
How much time do I need to care for them?
Very little! I feed my worms once a week or once a fortnight and I can leave them for a month if they are positioned in a cool spot in summer and a sheltered spot in winter. They really require very little attention.
What can I feed them?
So many things! The better question is what can’t you feed them.
Here are some examples of what I feed my worms. Keep in mind, when feeding them try to give them a balance between green waste and dry waste. Balance is key to keeping your worm farm healthy. In addition to their food, I always add a sprinkle of soil on top of their food as they like a bit of grit.
I DO feed them
Cooked rice (in small amounts)
Porridge (in small amounts)
Veggie scraps (I rarely use citrus and onion)
Lint from the dryer (on occasion)
Coffee grinds (on occasion)
I personally DON’T feed them
Dog poo, or other animal faeces
How much do you feed them?
When I first start a worm farm, I start by feeding them a couple of cups of food scraps along with a handful of dry leaves or shredded paper and I only add more food once most of it has been eaten, this may take a week or two. As your worm farm becomes more established and the worm population increases then they will need more food than this each week. You can get your worms to eat faster by pureeing or cutting up their food into smaller pieces because they are able to eat through this much faster. This helps with the scraps turning into castings quicker and you’ll be able to harvest the castings sooner. If you overfeed your worms and they can’t keep up with the food, it may rot and smell in your farm, so just feed them when there is visibly little or no food left.
How long will it be until I can harvest worm castings?
I started harvesting worm castings (poo) from my worm farm within in a couple of months, however, if you want to harvest an entire tray at one time from your farm, then this will take longer. This may seem like a long time, but this fertilizer really packs a punch, so a little goes a long way! One full tray of worm castings will fertilise around 6 metres of space easily.
Can I use the liquid from my worm farm?
Yes, however I only use the liquid from my farm once I know there is a good amount of poo in the farm. If it’s a new farm, then it’ll just be liquid from the food you have fed them. I don’t use this in my garden. Once my farm has been established for a couple of months, I start using the liquid. To harvest the liquid (or worm tea), I make sure my tap is on, put a bucket under my tap and I flush the worm farm with the hose (I probably pour a few litres of water through the farm) This liquid is amazing for your garden. When I use the liquid from my farm on the garden, I make sure the colour is similar to weak tea. If it is too dark, it may be too rich for your plants to handle.
Do I take the whole tray out of the farm once it’s been turned to castings and just throw it on the garden?
No, you need to keep as many worms in your farm as possible. You want to harvest the poo, not the worms! It’s actually easily done. Worms hate the sun, so this is the trick you can use this to get them to bury down and out of the castings you want to harvest. Simply add a new tray to the bottom of the farm, add some new bedding and some food and then put the full tray that you want to harvest from on the top. Take the lid off and place it in the sun, exposing the worms to the light and they will start to bury down, you can then harvest castings a layer at a time until they have all buried down. There will be some stragglers, but you can just tip them out into the new tray you have created.
I hope you’ll give worm farming a go, my garden definitely loves it!