Helpful tips on getting your worm farm started

Big Worm Farm 12 IMG_8251

As someone who works a lot with growing food and gardens, I find the benefits of worm farming invaluable. Anyone who has a garden of any description, whether it be a container garden on your balcony or a large garden, should have a worm farm.

Major benefits

  • You are able to recycle your organic kitchen waste (helping to reduce what goes into landfills)
  • Using worm tea as a natural fertilizer in the garden keeps things super healthy and buzzing
  • You are able to put the worm compost to good use – either by putting it straight in the garden or by making compost tea for your plants
  • You grow to love the little guys and they become part of your family!  Who said you couldn’t have 500 worms as pets.

GETTING YOUR WORM FARM STARTED

  1. Obtaining your worms and frame

There are many different worm farms on the market at the moment. The size and type of worm farm you get will depend on the space available and the amount of food waste you produce. You will also need to purchase worms. Red Wiggler worms are most commonly used for composting and work a treat. They are great at producing worm castings and can eat up to their own body weight a day under ideal conditions.

  1. Getting your worm farm going

Add strips of wet, shredded newspaper loosely on the bottom of your worm farm and then add the worms. Add another layer of shredded, wet newspaper. Use a damp blanket on the top of the pile (the cheap grey blankets work well) and replace the lid. It is important to remember this method of layering the farm, as this will ensure uniformity of carbon and nitrogen.

  1. Feeding your worms

After a week when they have settled, feeding can begin. Don’t forget to cut the food waste up into small pieces (even if already beginning to decay – the smaller the better) and spread it around the top of the heap of worms, under the blanket. As the amount of worms increase, mix the food in with them, as this will help keep fruit flies away. Add more damp newspaper or egg boxes onto the top of the food, under the damp blanket after feeding. When and how to feed your worms depends on how many worms you have. The trick is to have a good balance between carbon (paper, cardboard or similar) and nitrogen (food waste) in your worm farm. Too much nitrogen and your farm will start to smell (lack of oxygen or anaerobic); too much carbon and your worm’s food supply dries up resulting in dead worms (too aerobic), so it’s a careful balance.

What you can put into your worm farm:

  • Left over uncooked vegetable scraps, fruit and veg peelings
  • Tea leaves & tea bags that have been broken open
  • Coffee filters and grounds
  • Small amounts of newspaper torn up into thin strips (not the glossy adverts), pizza and egg boxes.  All of these need to be soaked first.

What you shouldn’t put in your worm farm

  • Cooked food
  • Dairy products
  • Citrus such as oranges and lemons
  • Onions and garlic
  • Meat, fish, fat
  1. Where to put your worm farm

The worm farm can be kept outside in the shade away from direct sunlight, in the garage, on the veranda, any sort of shelter in the shade or anywhere in the house, as there is no smell. However, remember to keep it accessible, as you will need to feed them regularly.

  1. Keeping your worm farm moist

The reason why the paper and the blanket need to be dampened is because the worms must have moisture. In the summer you may need to water your worm farm quite frequently. Keep an eye on it, it must be a moist environment. Add half to one cup of tap water (remember to let it sit for a few hours) or better yet rainwater once or twice a week, depending on the weather. This should be sprayed over the blanket. What you’re trying to do is mimic the conditions found in the so

  1. Worm leachate

Worm leachate is the liquid that collects at the bottom of your worm farm. We recommend using your worm leachate in solution with water at a ratio of 1 part leachate to 20 parts water. The best water is rainwater or tap water that has been allowed to sit in a bucket for the day (this way the chlorine is given time to evaporate). You will not damage your plants if you do not dilute it but it will go much further and is just as effective. The mixture is packed full off beneficial bacteria that are excellent for your plants.

Thanks to Beryl Saunders for all her advice and support regarding worms.

Have a look at Worm Farming Secrets.

“Grow a bigger healthier garden faster with the power of worm composting – the most powerful natural fertilizer on planet earth”

Please remember that we have worm farms for sale at the OwnGrown Online shop. Don’t hesitate to give us a shout for advice and help should you need.