Worm Farming – by Jennifer Vickers

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My first and second attempts at a worm farm ended in disaster. After these failed attempts I was given instructions by a man who has worm farms as big as many people’s houses and I wondered how his information could translate to someone like me with one of those tiered black plastic contraptions. However, I did as he told me and though it doesn’t sound like much of a departure from what I’d already tried, it has really worked.

To begin with, all food scraps are wrapped in newspaper; he calls them “subs” and I make them long and slimish with two thicknesses of paper. He also told me to avoid too much citrus and egg shells – in fact he told me to avoid these altogether, but I couldn’t help myself.  He said to discard all the plastic tray tiers except one and to continue with this until the layer was filled (which took ages) and then I could add another tier. The subs are placed on one side of the tray along with horse manure – the quality of this is most important as the donors must not have been fed anti-biotics as it kills the worms stone dead.  My new worms were placed on the other side of the tray in a bit of the compost they’d been living in. The theory is that the worms know when the contents of the subs have decomposed to an acceptable state and then they crawl over and get stuck into it. The only other care I provided was to pour water over the top of the subs and the worms and kept the worm farm in a cool place (near my tank-stand actually in the shade) as worms cannot tolerate heat.  Make sure you leave the tap on “open” and provide a decent sized bucket at the bottom to catch the worm juice. I pour this over the subs each week adding extra water if I want more juice.

I use the juice diluted at the rate of one cup added to 2 litres of water for my African Violets, or anything else that is lucky enough. It has no odour.

I may add that I used to crumble the horse manure but have found that this is unnecessary as the worms are quite capable of dealing with the job and I just put it in, in chunks. Mind you, horse chunks are much smaller than cow chunks.

I don’t have a clue what sort of worms I have but I’m very happy to give anyone who is interested a little supply to get them started as they have been very, very easy worms to deal with. I live at Windsor and please bring an ice-cream bucket with holes in the lid with you. I have only one worm-farm but now all tiers of my farm are occupied though the farm didn’t bulk up until I started adding shredded paper. If you don’t want it to be a big job and just keep worms for the fun of it and to give you a use for your scraps and use the worm juice, I would suggest that you don’t bother about the shredded paper. Another tip he gave me is for catching the worms (if this proves a problem, which it doesn’t seem to be for me), and he said to get some well rotted potato peelings and put them on the top of the farm. He said the worms absolutely rush to the peelings, form a worm knot and you can just pick the whole lot up easily.

Very easy little project and it is fun making subs and fun going down and lifting up a sub in the farm and see the tenants wriggling away in and under the little parcels.

Note from Sheryl:

If you don’t have a worm farm and don’t wish to expend money on one, I have just been reading an article in Grass Roots magazine – issue No. 183 where they use two of those 10 ltr white buckets that deli’s use that yoghurt comes in – lots of holes were drilled in the bottom of one and gauze placed over it to let the juice through. Follows Jennifer’s recipe of wrapping kitchen scraps in paper.