The Wonderful World of Worm Farming
The majority of worm farms can be quite complicated. Not only are they difficult to set up and require the use of power tools, they can be costly and high maintenance. There are many elaborate designs and techniques but lets remember, earthworms live in our soil and they have been doing just fine. They happily chew through decomposing matter and manure improving the state of the soil as they pass it out of the other end.
There are many ways to start a worm farm from stacking containers to recycled bath tubs. The aim is to produce worm castings, a type of soil said to contain more nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus than your average store bought fertilizers. Further more, it is less likely to scold the roots when applied to your favourite plants or trees. Worm castings or vermicompost are the product of the worms natural digestion process and each worm, given the right conditions has the potential to consume it’s own weight in soil per day. The soil is then separated from the worms and the whole process is repeated. The soil can be added to pots or spread as a general fertilizer.
For my worm farm I used a simple tub/container, a recycled water bottle and a recycled compost bag for the bedding. You can also use recycled newspaper. The worms are fed on aged cow manure, oats and ground eggshells only. It is important to age the manure as the high content of nitrogen in the fresh material will kill the worms. I leave it in a bucket for a couple of weeks before I feed it to the worms. The new food is turned into the mix once every 1-2 weeks.
To start the worm farm I collected the worms using a method I learned as a child. Simply add a small scoop of washing powder to a gallon sized watering can and pour it on the soil in the garden. It will take the oxygen from the soil and the worms will surface making them easy for you to collect.
To ease the worms into the rich food I used what I call the ‘worm hotel’. It is basically a recycled bottle filled with the original soil that the worms came from with wholes cut out. The bottle is then buried in the worm farm and covered with the chosen bedding. This allows the worms to feed on the rich nutrients in their own time.