• They may want to set up and learn to manage a handmade, or commercially available worm factory that they will be feeding with food scraps from their kitchens.
• They may want to know what to do to encourage more earthworms back into their gardens.
How to set up a worm factory
• The bottom tray is used for catching water that comes through the worm farm. I recommend you DO NOT use the tap. Just put a bucket under the hole to catch the brown liquid coming out. Use the legs, which come with the worm farm or use a milk crate to raise it.
• The first tray with holes in the floor is the ‘home base’ for the worms. Fill this up with good compost, wet it well and then put in your worms. This is their ‘home’. From here they will feed on the layers above them.
• Now place the next tray (with holes), on top of the ‘home’ tray. Ensure the bottom of the empty tray is touching the soil/compost in the home tray. If ever a ‘gap’ appears between trays you must top up the home tray with some extra compost or potting mix. This ‘contact’ ensures that the worms can move easily between the home tray and the feeding tray.
• When adding a new feeding tray always get a few handfuls of soil or mature compost or potting mix and throw in to the empty tray (once in position) to ‘join up’ the new tray, with the food in the current tray.
• Get an old Hessian bag to use as a cover over the top of all fresh food scraps. When feeding the worm farm always lift out/up the Hessian bag. You are now ‘SET UP’.
How to manage a worm factory
• Ensure that excess water can drain freely from the worm bedding. Leave the tap open all the time (or better still, remove the tap completely) with a bucket underneath to collect the valuable liquid. (See – “How to Use Worm Juice on Your Gardens)
• Lift up Hessian sack. – Put food scraps on up to half (max) of the surface of feed tray, sprinkle with some soil or potting mix Feed with a high variety/diversity of food scraps. The more chopped up the food scraps the quicker it will be converted by the microbes and worms. (Some people actually ‘blend’ their food scraps and then feed this blend to the worms. This allows you to put a greater quantity of food scraps through the worm farm)
• Lay down the bag again – put on the lid – put a brick or something ‘weighty’ on lid to hold it down.
• Once each week – flood the farm from the top until ‘fresh worm juice’ is running out the bottom hole into your bucket. This will also ensure that you will get a regular supply of worm juice to spray and water onto your plants and living garden soil. (NB Empty out the worm juice bucket every week – this will stop it smelling and will stop mossies breeding in there.
• If mossies do breed in there – then tip 20 to 50ml of some of your vegetable cooking oil onto the surface of the water each time it refills)
• How much food? This will depend on how many worms are in your farm and the daily temperature. Worms like a soil temp of about 20 to 25deg C. So if it is too hot or too cold they will slow down and eat less. One of the biggest mistakes people make with worm farms is OVERFEEDING! If you are overfeeding and the worms cant eat it all, it will start to smell bad! If this happens, get a little garden tool or stick and scratch up the tray you are feeding into. Add a bit more soil and handful of dolomite and do not feed for a few days or even a week.
• Every time you feed your worms, sprinkle a couple of handfuls of soil on top of the food. This gives the worms some grit, which they use in their gizzard, to grind the food up.
• Some people Wrap the food scraps in a sheet of newspaper before adding.
• Keep the surface covered with a hession bag or newspaper. Hessian is preferable.
• Keep the system moist at all times.
• Clean out the bottom liquid collection tray at least once per month.
• Sprinkle a handful once a month – of either dolomite or garden lime (or wood ash) – into the food you are adding. (Or only every two months if worm farm is going well and very active!).
• OPTIONAL: Sprinkle a handful once a month of basalt Rock Dust into the food you are adding. Good rock dust can add 70 (seventy!) or more different minerals into the system and then into YOU, when you eat the plants grown using some of the wonderful worm castings. Rock Dust can also be added to your veggie and herb gardens directly – about a handful per sq metre – every 1 or 2 years.
When your worm factory is FULL! (Changing trays and using the casting)
• Take off the Hessian sack. (It may be time for a NEW ONE!)
• Lift off the TOP feed tray – put it to one side carefully.
• Lift off the home tray. Empty worm casts & clean tray. (This beautiful black worm casting material can either be used in small amounts on your potted plants or around the drip line of plants in your gardens). You can also mix it all in with your compost bin material if you have one.
• Note: always cover worm castings /mature compost after application to keep it moist, dark and ALIVE! Water in and then cover with any sort of ‘mulch’ such as leaves, hay, dry grass clippings. Thin layers are good.
• Now the TOP tray is put back in position as the new Home Tray.
• Put the clean empty tray on top and begin feeding again.
How to encourage worms back to your gardens
• Always have a layer of Organic Mulch on the soil surface. Eg grass clippings, leaves, recycled organics from council pick ups, shredded garden prunings, newspaper, hessian /jute sacks, etc.
• Continue to increase the diversity (variety) of mulches added to the garden.
• Keep garden soil moist.
• Add ‘pockets’ of worm casts under your mulch. (Take castings from your worm system) These surface (compost) worms will encourage back the deeper living worms as well.
How to use ‘Worm Juice’ on your gardens
‘Worm Juice’ can be used in two main ways with your plants.
1. Poured directly onto the soil of either your potted plants or veggie and herb gardens
Always water into the soil at the drip line – if possible – otherwise water into the main area of root mass of the plant.
Always use fresh and aerated ‘juice. Commercial farmers have special ‘stirring vats’ to mix the juice with a ‘vortex’ and ‘reverse vortex’ mixing patter for sometimes up to 24 hours to fully aerate the liquid to dramatically increase the living population of beneficial aerobic microbes in the mix. If mixing it yourself it can be put into a bucket or other container and mixed vigorously to a vortex in one direction and then stopped (chaos) and then vigorously to a vortex in the opposite direction. – Continue this for at least one hour if possible.
You can use it Undiluted around well-established plants but dilute the ‘Worm Juice’ to the colour of weak ‘tea’ if using around young plants and seedlings!
2. Learn to mix and make a special spray to use as a ‘tonic’ on the leaves of you plants
This ‘juice’ can help prevent many fungal organisms from damaging your plants and is also a good ‘foliar feed’ for you plants at flower and fruit set times or just for a ‘nice little boost’ for you lovely herbs, veggies and fruit trees.
• Always use fresh and aerated ‘juice. Commercial farmers have special ‘stirring vats’ to mix the juice with a ‘vortex’ and ‘reverse vortex’ mixing patter for sometimes up to 24 hours to fully aerate the liquid to dramatically increase the living population of beneficial aerobic microbes in the mix. Need to spray within a day or so after ‘vortex’ mixing.
• Dilute the ‘Worm Juice’ to the colour of weak ‘tea’.
• Filter the juice through a fine strainer or use an old stocking as you strainer.
• Put the filtered juice into your Spray Bottle.
• Now you can spray this ‘juice’ just like this OR you can add some Fish Emulsion and also some Seasol or other good seaweed product into the mix – at their recommended rates – and spray your plants with this!
• Spray onto plant leaves directly making sure to cover the fronts AND backs of the leaves.
The most common issues with worm farms
1. Water tap blocks up on bottom tray. Moisture cant drain through farm and oxygen is diminished.
REMEDY – Remove the tap completely and place a bucket under the hole to catch the ‘worm juice’. Once you have removed the tap, a good practice is to flood the worm farm with fresh water, from the top, once per week. Use 5 litres or more. The worms love a moist home but it must be WELL DRAINED!
2. Gap between top of ‘home tray’ and the bottom of ‘feeding tray’.
REMEDY – Lift off feeding tray and simply add some potting mix or soil to the surface of the ‘home tray’. Put feeding tray back on top of home tray.
3. Overfeeding! (Worm farm will be smelly!)
REMEDY – Stop feeding for a week. Sprinkle on a handful of dolomite (from garden centre) and gently dig and mix the smelly food layer with a small garden tool or strong stick.
4. Worms seem slow to process the food scraps.
REMEDY – Sprinkle a couple of handfuls of soil on top of the food scraps every time you feed the worm factory. This gives the worms some ‘grit’ to use in their gizzard to grind the food before they digest it in their stomach. Also add a handful of dolomite (or garden lime), every month or two.
Worm Farming Tips
Worm Farming Tips
Worm Farming Tips
Worm Farming Tips