The Worm Composting Farm – Chasing Crusoe.

Having a worm composting farm is not just fun but beneficial. On the home front, it simply provides a straightforward way to get rid of excess food scraps from your household. On a larger global scale, you are making a contribution to help reduce the detrimental environmental effects from the millions of tonnes of food waste entering our landfills worldwide each year.

In the process, worms are producing incredible nutrient dense fertiliser in the form of vermiculture (worm castings or worm manure) and a liquid byproduct (for worm tea) for your plants and soil.

Various brands of ready made worm composting farms can be purchased from Bunnings, Mitre 10 and many independent garden centers. They could also be made by repurposing items from home, by the avid DIYer.

Worm composting farms are comprised of layered trays that have small holes in them, through which worms can travel and castings and liquid can break down through to the bottom layers. Not only are they busy digesting and generating castings and liquid, they are busy multiplying. Nature won’t let your worm farm become too overpopulated.

Many local councils in New Zealand offer basic courses to learn the fundamentals, from which you can receive a highly subsidised worm composting farm with enough worms to start you on your way. Give your local council a call to see if they are offering this initiative. Here is a link for upcoming events in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand area:

https://www.westernbay.govt.nz/our-services/rubbish-recycling-waste/Pages/Worm-Composting.aspx

Caring For Your Worm Farm.

1)Assemble or build your worm composting farm and place it out of direct sunlight and rain. I keep ours nestled under a big avocado tree, pushed back near the trunk, nice and protected from the elements.

2)Line the top tray of the worm farm with moistened newspaper.

3)Introduce your worms to the top tray area. 250g would be a good amount to start with. Initially they will take time to settle in. The worms are Tiger Worms, different from traditional Earthworms found in soil. They can be purchased from Bunnings, Mitre 10 and many independent garden centres. They can set you back approximately $40NZ for 250g, so perhaps you can find a friend to donate some.😉

Tiger Worms are powerful digestors of food waste and organic matter. They eat approximately half their weight in food daily, which should help indicate a good level of food to feed them. eg. If you have a combined weight of 1kg of worms, they will consume approximately 500g of food per day. You don’t need to be exact or weigh anything, you will soon gauge the right amount of food.

4)Feed your worm farm – once a week is adequate. Include any food scraps including coffee grounds, egg shells and fruit/vegetable skins, with the exception of bread, onion and meat. Things that are strongly acidic such as citrus or tomatoes, add in moderation as the worm composting farm functions best at a neutral pH.

5)Place moistened newspaper over the top of the food waste.

6)Regularly feed and check moisture levels.

7) Harvest castings and liquid as it builds up.

How To Harvest Castings.

In the bottom tray, castings will accumulate. After approximately 6 months, the castings will be ready to be placed in the garden to use as an amazing fertilizer for your plants and soil. By this stage the waste material is broken down and looks like luscious moist soil.

To harvest the castings, place the bottom tray on the top and remove the lid. Any worms in the castings will travel down to escape the light.

Empty the tray of castings and combine in 1:1 ratio with existing dirt, so that it’s not too strong. Scatter in desired ares of garden around plants etc.

This bottom tray is now transferred to become the top tray, so set it up accordingly as from Step 2 above.

How To Make Worm Tea.

In the base, liquid will accumulate that can be made into worm tea and used as a fertilizer in your garden.

Drain off liquid from the base of your worm farm.

Dilute with water till it resembles a weak tea colour. (Any stronger could damage plants).

Spray onto plants.

Potential Problems Areas.

*If the worm composting farm looks too dry, gently flush with cups of water. If the worm composting farm seems too wet, add some paper – shredded newspaper is great.

*If other insects or worms are inhabiting the worm composting farm, the moisture level or pH level might need altering. A sprinkle of lime powder can help neutralize back to a normal pH level.

*Worm composting farms should not have an odour. If you notice one, you may be overfeeding. Reduce feed until the worms have eaten what is already there.

*If you need to go away for a few weeks, that would be no problem for your worm composting farm. Leaving something large like half a pumpkin would be great. But otherwise top up the food plentifully and make sure there is moistened newspaper included.

*In winter, you could cover your worm composting farm with an old wool blanket or the like, to help provide insulation.

 

We currently have 3 worm composting farms. Before we got them I knew very little and the thought of them overwhelmed me. I hope that if you feel the same, this has shown how simple they really are.

You don’t need to live rurally to maintain a worm farm. They don’t take up too much room and would fit snugly under the eaves on a protected side of the house out of direct sunlight.

Worm composting farms are a beneficial addition to any household and lots of fun! Let me know how you go.😊

~Rebecca

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