Greetings friends, compost worms are an indispensable part of the modern garden. Today I will tell you how I made a compost worm farm.
Compost worms are remarkable beings, akin to magicians. They possess the ability to convert the approximate 180kg of green waste produced by a household annually into high-quality fertilizer. Therefore, if you’re in the habit of purchasing fertilizer, consider halting that practice. It’s unnecessary. Opt for establishing a worm farm instead! I personally manage three such farms at my residence, steadily building a thriving worm empire!
Advantages of Using Compost Worms
Currently, there’s a worldwide decline in the health of our soils and the population of worms. Approximately half of the 400kg of waste discarded by our households each year is composed of green waste. If you have a green waste bin provided by a responsible council, this waste usually ends up in a landfill. This might seem harmless, as the carbon-rich green waste is simply returned to the earth.
However, the reality is different. When green waste is buried, it generates landfill gas during decomposition. This gas is primarily a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide, which gradually escapes into the atmosphere over a period of around 20 years, contributing to climate change.
Compost worms offer a sustainable alternative. They process this waste by consuming it, circumventing the methane-producing decomposition process that occurs with anaerobic bacteria. As a result, you gain the benefit of nutrient-rich worm castings and liquid fertilizer, which not only save you money but also enrich your soil with beneficial bacteria.
How to Start a Compost Worm Farm
Choosing the right location for a compost worm farm is crucial for the health and productivity of the worms. Here are some key factors to consider when deciding where to place your worm farm:
- Temperature: Worms thrive in temperatures between 55°F (13°C) and 77°F (25°C). Avoid placing the worm farm in areas where it could get too hot or too cold. Extreme temperatures can harm or even kill the worms.
- Shade and Sunlight: Keep the worm farm out of direct sunlight. An area that receives consistent shade will help maintain a stable temperature. Direct sunlight can heat the bin too much, especially in summer.
- Protection from the Elements: Choose a spot that’s sheltered from wind, rain, and extreme weather conditions. A garage, shed, or under a porch can be ideal locations, especially if you live in an area with variable weather.
- Accessibility: Place your worm farm somewhere convenient for you to access. You’ll need to regularly add kitchen scraps and check on the worms, so easy access is important.
- Moisture: The location should not be too dry. Worms need a moist environment, but not too wet. Ensure the spot doesn’t flood during rain.
- Drainage: Good drainage is crucial to prevent waterlogging in the worm farm. Ensure the location allows for excess water to drain away without causing a mess.
- Ground Surface: Placing the worm farm on a level, stable surface is important. You can keep it on soil, concrete, or grass, but make sure it’s level and not prone to tipping over.
- Space Requirements: Ensure there’s enough space for the size of your worm farm, with extra room around it for air circulation and maintenance activities.
Remember, the best location might change with the seasons, so be prepared to move your worm farm to accommodate temperature changes throughout the year.
Choosing your Compost Worm Farm
Worm farms are among the simplest and most rewarding DIY garden projects you can undertake. Resourceful gardeners have created worm farms from a variety of repurposed items, including old buckets, wheelie bins, bathtubs, and even used laundry tubs. Take a trip to your local salvage yard or recycling center to discover potential treasures for this project.
Rather than purchasing a brand-new worm farm from a hardware store, consider exploring classified ads first. It’s common to find pre-established worm farms being sold for less than the cost of a new one, often with a thriving worm population already included!
Prepping Your Compost Worm Farm
I suggest starting your new worm bin with a base layer of rehydrated coir fiber. This creates a comfortable environment for your worms upon their arrival and aids in maintaining the balance of the farm. When you begin adding your household waste, mix it into the carbon-rich coir fiber. This practice helps prevent spoilage and unpleasant odors in your worm farm.
Sourcing Your Compost Worms
Compost worms are available for purchase at local garden centers or hardware stores, typically priced around $50 for a box containing 1000 worms and castings. However, in my experience, this method tends to be the most costly and least reliable for acquiring compost worms.
Alternatively, I recommend looking through local classified ads for individuals in your area offering live, active compost worms. Often, you’ll find sellers providing a bucket full of worms and castings for about $20, which is a more economical option.
Even better, consider asking a friend who already maintains a worm farm if they’re willing to share some of their worms with you at no cost! This way, you can start your worm farm more affordably and reliably.
Feeding Your Compost Worms
What you can feed worms:
- Lawn clippings
- Coffee grounds
- Household waste, spoiled leftovers, vegetable waste, fruit waste, bread,
- whole grains
- Shredded paper and cardboard
- Dryer fluff, vacuum dust and hair from the hairbrush!
Don’t feed worms:
- Animal waste (domestic animal poop)
- Small chunks
I prefer to finely chop or process the food for my worms, as this allows them to consume it more quickly. Additionally, large chunks of waste can spoil before the worms have a chance to eat them, potentially turning the bin toxic and causing unpleasant odors.
Balance Wet with Dry
In case your compost worm farm appears overly moist and starts to emit an odor, try incorporating some additional rehydrated coir fiber or shredded paper into the bin and thoroughly mix it in.
Conversely, if your worm farm seems too dry, increase the amount of food waste you’re adding, or simply moisten the contents by adding water until the mixture reaches a damp consistency.
Keep them covered
If your worm farm is a commercially made design, it likely includes a lid with ventilation. I personally use an old blanket to cover my worms, along with a snug but ventilated lid. Adequate ventilation is crucial as worms require air to breathe.
It’s important to keep the farm covered to protect against other pests or potential predators like crows, magpies, and kookaburras, which are fond of compost worms.
Do you own a compost worm farm? How long have you been nurturing worms? I’m eager to know about your experiences. Feel free to share your story in the comments below!