Compost worms convert kitchen scraps and garden waste into nutrient-rich plant food perfect for the garden or potted plants. So reduce landfill and greenhouse gas emissions and, at the same time, make garden fertiliser.
- Worm farming is ideal for anyone living in a unit as the farm can be stored on the balcony.
- Worm farms can break down nearly all kinds of fruit and vegetables scraps and turn them into liquid fertiliser (worm tea) and castings (vermicast)
- Worm tea can be used for fertilising plants, and castings are excellent as a nutrient source for mature plants
- Worms can eat their body weight in food. They use sand to help ‘chew’ their food.
- Worm populations can double every 2-3 months. It helps that worms have both male and female reproductive organs.
It is important not to add too much organic matter at once. Worms find smaller scraps easier & quicker to digest, so if you want to fast track the process, blend food scraps with water before feeding worms.
Worms’ least favourite foods include dairy products, butter & cheese, meat, fish, fat & bones, very oily foods and citrus, onion and garlic. These will take longer to break down.
Add a sprinkling of wood ash or dolomite or lime every few weeks to prevent the worm farm from becoming too acidic.
Harvesting Worm Castings
Harvest the worm castings/compost (vermicompost) by pushing it all to one side of the bin; add fresh straw or sugarcane mulch to the empty side. Many of the worms will migrate to this fresh bedding in a few days. The valuable worm castings can then be taken out and used in the garden beds.
To use the worm wee, mix it in a watering can till it’s the colour of weak black tea and pour this over the foliage of your plants or ours. They will love it!
Don’t have a worm farm?
You can also compost in a heap, in a tumbler, or by trench composting, which is digging a hole and burying it!Composting is a simple enough process where what was living breaks down into humus – a soil-like substance that is nature’s answer to just about anything.
Making up a compost involves getting the correct ratio of carbon to nitrogen together so that your organic matter breaks down quickly and effectively. Normally it 30:1 parts carbon to nitrogen, which simply means dry leaves, cuttings and pruning and so forth need to be combined with nitrogen rich material like leaf clippings and vegie scraps.
There are different methods, such as layering compost, anaerobic composting, fermenting, making compost teas, making hot composts and even reusing weeds to make into composts.
By: Meredith Kirton