Compost worms are amongst our favourite backyard buddies, as they turn our household food scraps into 'black gold. Worm castings are phenomenal soil improvers. We spread worm castings over the veggies beds, and around our fruit trees from the base of the trunk to well past the drip line. They're much better than any other animal manure. And they have no smell, which keeps the neighbours on side!
You want ‘compost worms’ like tiger worms and Indian blues in your worm farm system - they're much better suited to worm farming than the worms in your garden. About 1,000 worms (250grams) is a good amount to start out with, but it depends on your set up.
A brilliant, practical book about starting out with worm farming is Jade Woodhouse’s ‘Worm Farming – Our Saviour For The Soil (www.simplynaturalorganic.com). There are a few local worm farmers in Wollongong, who sell worms and worm casting – we’ve found Max Norden from Wormifert (0414 733 823) really helpful.
Can of Worms
We found a great system to start out with is the 'can of worms.' This worm home is a system of trays, shown in the picture above. You feed your worms in the top tray, and harvest castings from the lower trays.
To get the worm castings really cranking, worm houses made from old bathtubs are the way to go. We set ours up on a frame for easy access.
To make sure our wormies don't go walkabout, or drown, we put a 5cm layer of gravel at the bottom of the tub. Over the top of the gravel, we put a weed matt and some washed river sand to make sure there is no mixing between the valuable worm castings and the gravel.
Ventilation and aeration is critical. Wormies need to be able to breathe easy! One way we increased air flow was by cutting 6 slits in the bottom of the tub. We also have gaps between the tub and the lid, to allow oxygen to pass across the top of the worm farm, but still keep out excess water during heavy rains. And we areate the worm bed whenever we feed the worms, or add water to the system, by lightly 'fluffing' the material in the bed with our hands or a trowel.
Beautiful worm castings - thanks wormies!