Worms are dynamic little creatures that are capable of dramatically improving the ecology of your garden. On any given day, a mature worm will eat half its body weight in food, adding vital nutrients back into the earth after it has digested its meal. Setting up a worm farm is a fantastic way to turn waste materials from your kitchen into powerful plant food for your garden. There’s no need to be squeamish either, because even though the little wrigglers might seem slightly yucky, they’re actually very clean creatures. A worm’s digestive system is also capable of destroying harmful pathogens too, so there’s no need to fear handling them.
Becoming a successful worm farmer is actually very easy too. This means you can enjoy the benefits of recycling your organic household waste and improving the wellbeing of your plants in just a few simple steps.
1. Pick a location
Worms require warmth, so find a sheltered site for your farm before you begin. It mustn’t be too hot during the summer months and it should retain warmth in the winter. For the sake of convenience, you might want to pick a spot closer to your kitchen. This will save you some walking with scraps in the long run and make the farm easier to maintain.
2. Set up your farm
Most worm farms will be prefabricated and tiered. Each level will be perforated, allowing the worms to move freely throughout the structure to feed. Consider the upper levels to be living and dining, and the lower levels to be the worms’ bathroom. This is where you’ll eventually collect potent vermicompost and liquid fertiliser. When diluted and prepared for your garden, this material will greatly boost the nutrient levels in your soil.
To settle your worms into their new home, add some layers of soaked bedding into the middle section of the farm. The bedding can be newspaper or specially prepared compost. Add your worms and gently cover them with a few more layers of bedding.
3. Feed your worms
Start with smaller portions while your worms are getting settled. Add any vegetable scraps you like, making sure that the scraps aren’t in large chunks. You can also add crushed egg shells, coffee grounds, pet hair, tea bags, and a small amount of grass clippings.
Avoid chunks of meat which can attract vermin and smell, as well as tough plant clippings which the worms will take longer to digest. Keep an eye on the amount of space left in the upper tiers of the farm too. You don’t want to overfeed your worms, so make sure there’s a conservative amount of space left in the farm to avoid cramming them in amongst the scraps.
4. Keep your worms happy
The last and most important thing to remember to keep your worms happy is moisture. They can survive up to a month without fresh food but must remain slightly damp at all times. If you’re going away, cover the top layer of the farm with some soaked newspaper or layers of wet hessian to keep the interior of the farm damp.
It’s as simple as that. Generally speaking, after four to five months your worms will have bred and will be thriving in their new home, and your garden will have enjoyed its first treatment of powerful vermicompost, and you’ll be able to reap the rewards for years to come.