The benefits of worms
Having a worm farm is having a sustainable pet that is good for your garden, good for reducing food waste in landfills, and good for you!
Food waste that breaks down anaerobically in landfills produces methane, a greenhouse gas more harmful than carbon dioxide. By starting a worm farm, you can reduce the amount of food scraps going to landfills and create a fantastic fertiliser for your garden in the process, helping you to grow fresh food!
Worms eat your scraps and produce a crumbly compost-like fine soil called vermicast. Vermicast is rich in nutrients and great fertiliser for your garden. You'll know you’re vermicast is ready when it looks like fine soil, can be rolled in a ball, and isn’t too wet. Worms also produce 'worm wee’ which can be used as a liquid fertiliser. You can harvest this from the bottom of your farm if you use a container with a tap.
Worm farms are also a great way of processing your scraps if you live in a small space, if properly cared for they are much less smelly than other forms of composting and don’t take up as much space. Once it is ready, you could use your vermicast to fertilise your pot plants if you have them or take them to a community garden, it’s a great way of connecting with your local community too!
Where to find your worms
There are many worm species and not all of them will eat your food scraps, so it’s best not to go looking for worms in the garden to start your farm (though if they find your scraps themselves as they often do, then just let them work their worm magic!). The best kinds of worms for worm farms are tiger worms, blue worms, and red worms.
You can buy your worms from hardware or gardening suppliers, though those with established worm farms often have worms to share. There are lots of ways to connect with existing worm farmers! Whether through your local community garden, Facebook groups, or Facebook marketplace, or you might even find them on Gumtree.
Acidity is not good for worms so avoid putting citrus, onion, and garlic scraps in your worm farm. You can balance out the nitrogen-rich matter in your worm farm such as food scraps, by adding dichotomous earth to the mix. You can also add ripped-up carboard and paper to your farm which will help if it is smelly or too wet. Have a look in your bin- it should be about equal parts food scraps and paper matter. If you’re going away, make sure to add plenty of paper matter to the bin before you leave.
Don’t overload your worms with too many scraps, you can help them to break them down by chopping your scraps small before feeding them to your worms. Watering your worms from time to time (but not too much!) will ensure they don’t dry out if you’re not adding many wet scraps.
Homes for worms
You don’t have to have a specially designed bin to make a great home for your worms, though if you’re after a fancy bin, check in with your local council as they might offer a rebate.
Alternatively, you can use any kind of container which has some form of drainage whether it’s an old bathtub or a tub with a tap. Just make sure you don’t suffocate your worms and pick a shaded spot for your farm where they won't get too hot.
At home, I have a black compost bin with an open base which has allowed the worms from my garden to find the bin of their own free will! It is very low maintenance, and they mostly take care of themselves, provided I make sure that there is enough paper matter in their bin. This type of worm farm does not allow you to capture the ‘worm wee’ however, so if you are wanting to use this as liquid fertiliser for your garden, a container with a tap would be best suited.