I've got worms!

5 August 2008

Another of the jobs I did on the weekend was maintenance on the worm farm. On Friday afternoon, Hanno and Jens moved the old bathtub I have the worm farm in. I found it too difficult to easily get to the worms and the farm was suffering for lack of adequate care. Now the tub is sitting on a bench in the greenhouse, it has a piece of corrugated iron over it to prevent rain soaking the bed and drowning the worms.

I have written about setting up a worm farm here. It's a simple matter to set your own farm up and if you're having trouble with composting - if you don't have enough material for a compost heap or bin, then a worm farm will provide you with valuable organic nutrients for your garden with less raw materials. Once you've built the bedding up for your worms, all you need to provide them with is enough food to keep them alive and breeding. That is generally done with kitchen scraps, garden waste, old newspapers, old cotton or linen clothes. Worms eat most things but they don't like citrus peels or onions. This is a good fact sheet on the value of worm farming.

Worm castings ready to be used in the garden or for making worm cast tea.

On the weekend, I checked out the worm farm thoroughly. We always have reduced numbers of worms in winter but they are quite healthy and when the warm weather hits us, the worm population will double, then double again. I have the farm set up with casts on one side, that I'm constantly taking from, and the breeding and eating worms on the other side. Of course, the worms travel from one side to the other, but I check castings for worms when I take it out and although there generally aren't many there, I usually find one or two.

The layer of straw before watering.

I removed the old bedding the worms are in and placed it on a tarp on the floor. I had collected all my materials and started placing it all in the bathtub after making sure it was moist, but not wet. The new bedding is made up of straw, a small amount of cow manure, some old silverbeet and cabbage leaves and the old bedding. It's all mixed together gently to avoid harming the worms. Then I added a layer of food from the fridge. There was a bowl of thick vegetable and barley soup, and old chopped up boiled egg, a couple of slices of bread and some apple cores and peels. Then I poured over about a litre (quart) of diluted black strap molasses. The worms love this and it provides them with added nutrients. Finally, I placed another layer of straw, an old wet cotton mat and sheets of newspaper. The mat and paper provide the worms with darkness, which they prefer, and keeps the layers underneath moist. Every few days I lightly sprinkle water on the worm farm to keep it moist.

Final layer of matting and newspaper.

All I need to do now is to keep the farm moist and feed the worms a couple of times a week. As the population increases in the coming months, I'll add food more frequently, possible three or four times a week.

Worm farming is a great project, especially for the kids. It's easy to do, safe, and, best of all, it is a productive project that will give you valuable nutrients for your soil.


  1. Thanks for this Rhonda, I have needed a bit of a prod to go check on our worms. The children have been feeding them but I haven't actually checked them for a while now.
    I also enjoyed your post on setting up a worm farm in a bathtub; I'm thinking of this as a future project.
    making curry and rice for dinner today, warm us up a bit; we have had a few big frosts here the last few days.
    Bec xxx

  2. Hi Rhonda,

    I have a problem with my worm farm always being too wet. I've put wood shavings in, hoping they would help, but now they're soaked right through. I can't see how rain would be getting in so I'm at a loss as to what's causing this. I don't suppose you have any ideas?

  3. I've been vermicomposting for a few years, even teach a class on it locally and I just love the little creatures! I hope the worms love their new home.

  4. sharon, what are you adding to the worm farm? A good test of wetness is to squeeeze a handfull of the bedding. If it drips water, it's too wet. It should feel moist to the touch, but never drip water. Are you adding a lot of wet waste? I think the solution will be to add shredded newspaper, but tell me what you're adding first and we'll work something out. Maybe you can help too, Kathie?

  5. I love to learn a new trick or a new word everyday. Yesterday I learned about bandicooting. Tonight I put my new skill into practice. I have been growing my potatoes in pots then as I have harvested a plant, refilled the pot and planting winter broccoli. Tonight I just poked around the top of one of my remaining pots and pulled out six small spuds, just enough for tea. Well done.
    Cheers, Eileen.

  6. I just started my worm farm, and I'm having so much fun with it! When I start teaching I want to have one in my classroom for recycling our class waste. I think it would be a wonderful learning experience for the kids!

  7. We have our worms in two of the black plastic style worm farms. They really work wonderfully. I haven't tried a bathtub style because of the lack of a suitable home for the tub which wouldn't be too cold or too hot. They really are great recyclers.

  8. A couple of years ago I was given a storebought worm farm, it's not too bad to use but I prefer a homemade one I had few years back. It was based on an $8 garbage can, so much better value than a ready made one.

  9. My worms are in one of the square compost bins from bunnings, set on the ground. I started my first years ago, mainly in order to dispose of the detritus from the guinea pigs! Now almost everything goes into it and then into the garden. I love my worms!

    I put a really old pair of flannel jammies into the worm farm a few months ago, and last weekend pulled out a handful of piping, overlocked threads and elastic, that was all that was left! There's currently the top part of a pair of my hubbies old jeans in there, although I don't expect to see too much of them next time I look!

  10. Wow Rhonda, that was great! I have a couple large containers I was going to get rid of but I think they will work really well for a farm. Great tutorial.

  11. I just found your blog through friendsofpepe, this is incredible what you do! I will be back to learn more...we could all learn something from your blog.

    Thank you

  12. I don't know which is better for getting rid of waste: chickens or worms.

    Composting worms are awesome creatures. I had four bins going in my basement at one time. What a great project!

  13. Thank you for this, I have been having a hard time finding Red Wigglers . Still searching.

  14. Both of my boys are adoring my worm farm. Each afternoon, we go down and check out the vegies and open up the worm farm to show them what is going on.

    My 5 year old tells me what the worms can and can't eat as I chop up dinner.

    It's a delight to see.

  15. This cool story has added for me a good amount knowledge that I can use much.
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