The Worm Farm is a user friendly way to recycle your kitchen waste. It is a robust, simple method that enables you to provide organic fertiliser for potted plants, vegetables and the garden generally. Many people ask – How do worms work?
There are 3 critical things when worm farming – moisture, temperature and ph.
Moisture – the worm farm needs to maintain a constant moisture level and never dry out.
Temperature – this is the temperature of the mass not the air temperature. The bigger the mass the less problems. The problem is rapid temperature change. In warmer areas never have the worm farm exposed to direct sunlight in summer.
Ph – the ph needs to be maintained at neutral (7). Be careful with very acid foods such as the onion and citrus families.
Where can I obtain compost worms from?
You can purchase your worms from Promised Land Worm Products. We recommend that you purchase a minimum of 2000 compost worms.
How much will my worms eat?
This depends on how many worms you have. Worms can eat up to half their own body weight every day and can double their population every few months. If you start your Worm farm with 4000 mature worms they will consume up to 500 grams of scraps per day. After a three months you should have 8000 worms and you can feed them more. The baby worms, however, won’t eat much and will take about 3 months to mature.
As you become familiar with them you will learn their rate of food consumption.
How can I help the worms to eat more?
Worms will feed at a faster rate once they have adapted to any new food source. Worms will also eat more if kitchen scraps are mashed, blended or food processed(ie increased surface area for bacteria to work on). Another great idea is to cook the scraps before you give them to the worms. Also when you feed try pouring worm juice over the fresh food to innoculate it with bacteria.
Controlling temperature to around 24 degrees C will improve the overall performance of your system. Worms will leave very acidic food such as onions and orange peels until after they have eaten their preferred foods. A handful of garden lime every few weeks will help to balance the effect of acidic foods. If you want worms for fishing, the regular addition of worm fattener (see recipe at end) will encourage stronger, fatter worms. Since they consume up to their own body weight each day, the fatter they are the more wastes they will eat.
What shouldn’t I feed my worms?
Be careful what you feed your worms particularly if you are unaware of its source. Manures, for example, from horses, cattle or dogs often have Vermicides still active in it that were designed to kill parasitic worms in the animal. They can kill all your worms in one day.
Can I feed my worms garden refuse?
Not usually. Your Worm Farm is designed to break down soft organic waste. Slow composting organic wastes such as garden refuse are best dealt with by conventional aerobic composting methods.
I’ve had my Worm Farm for nearly a month now, but the worms don’t seem to be eating?
The worms may be eating your bedding material if you have used manure or compost in addition to any paper, peat moss or CocoPeat. If that is the case, the worms will eat through this before eating any introduced food. If just the Paper, Peat Moss or CocoPeat was used, the worms should readily eat introduced food waste.
Should I add water to the Worm Farm?
Watering of the Worm Farm will enhance the production of liquid fertiliser. Food wastes are about 80% water which is released as the worms break them down. This will tend to stay in the bedding for a long time before eventually draining out. If you pour water or worm juice over the scraps each week or two and then place the empty bucket under the Worm Farm, you will have a constant supply of liquid fertiliser. In summer months evaporation can be a problem, so treat your worm farm like a plant and give a small amount of water regularly.
Will I get too many worms?
No, you can never have too many worms. They self-regulate their population to the confines of available space and the amount of food you give them. Worm concentration should reach capacity 5,000 worms per square metre after 2 – 5 years.
Can I put compost worms in the garden?
Only if you have a thick surface layer of mulch in your garden. Compost worms require moist conditions all year round because they don’t tunnel deep like pasture worms to find moisture. If you cannot provide this environment in your garden, don’t introduce compost worms.
Why aren’t the worms moving up from the lower levels into the new feed?
This situation could arise in two ways. First, you may be adding new food too soon before the worms can eat the previous food. This will result in a lot of uneaten food being distributed through the system and a general reluctance by the worms to migrate upwards whilst they can still access food lower in the system. Before adding new feed, stop feeding the worms for at least a week to ensure that all existing food in the lower level has been eaten.
What about severe temperatures?
Worms will tolerate a wide temperature range from about 10 degrees to 30 degrees C. If it gets much hotter than this, make sure the Worm Farm is in a shady cool position. If you live in an area that suffers from frosts, put your Worm Farm in the warmest possible position, an example being your laundry, garage or shed. If it is on a balcony or in the backyard, then cover the unit with a couple of old carpet underfelts or old blankets to keep some warmth in. Feed them a lot more food waste which will create some warmth as it decomposes. The bigger the volume of the worm farm the less problems you will have with temperature change.
It’s raining and the worms seem to be gathering in one place. What do I do?
What you are noticing is the worms sensitivity to pressure changes in the weather. They will often go up high even before it rains. In nature, this takes them out of the soil to stop them flooding and drowning. Cover the Worm Farm to keep the rain out.
Are the little white worms in my Worm Farm baby earthworms?
No, baby earthworms are not white, but clear to opaque, before developing a reddish colour. They are just visible at this stage.