So it is true!
We have 1,000 new pets but they’re probably not the kind of pets that generally spring to mind. I’m talking my favourite kind of pets….productive pets….. That’s right! Pets who contribute more than love to a household. Yes indeed, we’re the proud new owners of a worm colony…. a.k.a. a worm farm and today I’m going to tell you all about it!
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Why Did I Decide to Start A Worm Farm?
We’ve always been composters, kept chickens and even a Bokashi Bin under our kitchen sink (the Bokashi Bin was gifted to me by my husband for my birthday 8 years ago, #trueromantic), but my younger sister has a worm farm in her garage to take care of her veggie scraps and I’ve always been intrigued by them, and the nutrient-rich “Worm Juice” or liquid fertilizer they produce.
Basically I had FOMO (fear of missing out) and wanted to see first-hand what it was like to own a worm farm and so far I’m pleasantly surprised!
Worms are Mother Nature’s recyclers. They’re fabulous at converting food waste into nutrient rich, 100% organic fertiliser that potted plants, garden plants and vegetables love and given that the average household’s waste stream contains around 40% of food waste, it makes sense for more and more households to discover the benefits of worm farming.
Which Worms Are The Best To Have in Your Worm Farm?
Like most things in life, not all worms are created equal.
Earthworkers prefer to live in a less controlled environment and prefer soil and humus as their basic diet.
They don’t thrive on food scraps.
On the other hand, Composter worms, live and breed happily in an organic rich environment and are the perfect choice for a worm farm. Species such as Tigers, Reds and Indian Blue are the best here and you do need a minimum of 1,000 to get started to have a viable colony so to speak.
It’s good to know that while the number of worms in your farm will grow, they won’t outgrow the worm farm as they regulate their population to the confines of available space and the amount of food they receive. A typical sized worm farm should reach a population of about 5,000 – 10,000 worms after one year!
Where Can I Buy Composter Worms?
Many hardware or garden store sell composting worms, however due to them not being available where I live, I ordered mine online here.
The worms are harvested fresh on the day they are sent out and sent by Express post and are guaranteed to arrive in excellent condition. They’re packed in biologically active bedding which is a mix of eco-friendly coco-peat and vermicompost that allows the worms to live comfortably for prolonged periods during shipping.
I can personally vouch that true to their word, our worms arrived in top notch condition, even after spending an additional five days at our local post office due to me being out of town and a certain husband forgetting to collect them!!! Needless to say the post office workers were super glad to see me when I turned up to collect my parcel!
How Do I Set Up a Worm Farm?
It is possible to make your own worm farm but I took the easy path and purchased an Australian-made, off-the-shelf model, Can-O-Worms (with a custom-sized worm blanket) by TUMBLEWEED.
TUMBLEWEED worm farms are user-friendly and can be left on a balcony or in a laundry if you live in an apartment, or in a shed or shaded location in your yard if you’re on a larger block. Ours is discretely placed in the corner of our outdoor entertaining area.
Currently our worm farm has just one layer (or tray), however we can add more when our colony grows in size. The worm juice collects in the bottom tray where I tap it off regularly and pour it straight onto our garden.
What Do I Feed My Worm Farm?
Worms thrive on anything that was once living (within reason). Their menu includes:
- Leftover vegetable scraps, fruit and vegetable peelings
- Tea leaves / bags and coffee grounds
- Vacuum cleaner dust or hair clippings (including animal hair)
- Torn up newspapers, egg and milk cartons and even soaked pizza cartons
- Crushed egg shells (which help with the pH balance)
It’s important to chop up food scraps as small as possible before feeding to worms and avoid large quantities of meat, citrus, onion and dairy. Also be careful not to overfeed your worms (you’ll know if you are because the excess food will go anaerobic and start to smell).
How Do I Harvest Castings and Tea From My Worm Farm?
Worm castings and their liquid fertiliser (Worm Tea) are invaluable additions to any organic vegetable garden.
Worm castings are the black bits you can see in the soil in the Worm Farm and can be harvested and used as pure organic fertilizer or as an additive to potting mix.
Worm Tea can be tapped off from your Worm Farm at least weekly and be diluted 10:1 and used in your garden on plants over two weeks old. Worm Tea is especially beneficial when your veggies and plants are flowering or fruit is ripening. It also supports diseased and stressed plants and protects them against insects.
I’ll be honest and say that both my sons and I are loving our new Worm Farm and my green thumb husband has been amazed at the results the worm tea is having in our garden. Our warrigal greens in particular have never looked as lush as they are right now!
As for food waste? Thanks to our chickens and compost bin we already didn’t produce any but if my worms are eating us out of house and home I’ll soon be accepting scraps from our neighbours!
I’d love to know if you’ve been thinking about starting your own worm farm or if you’re already a convert, what you love the most about your worms. Let me know below!