Fight food waste: How to make a worm farm to create compost
Harness the power of the humble earth worm and flip your unwanted kitchen and garden waste into nature’s own fertiliser for healthy soil and thriving plants.
Why worm farms are so good for your garden
Worms are one of Mother Nature’s greatest inventions. These hardworking recyclers take organic waste and turn it into beautiful, sweet fertiliser, in the form of worm castings and juice.
Worm castings (also known as worm poo) are what's left when the organic matter the worms have digested through the length of their little body is excreted. When applied to your garden, worm castings work as a slow-release fertiliser.
On the other hand, worm juice (also known as worm wee) is a liquid worm extract and works as an instant nutrient boost for your garden.
Adding worm castings and juice to your garden not only boosts its general health, it helps plants fight disease, controls weeds and improves soil quality and water retention.
Finding the perfect spot for your worm farm
Worms don’t like extreme heat and cold, so the more you can protect them from the elements, the happier your worms will be. An indoor spot like a shed or garage is perfect. If you want to keep your worm farm outdoors, place it under the shady eaves of your home or an evergreen tree - and keep your worm farm close to kitchen, for ease of use.
How can I use worm castings and juice in my garden?
Because worm castings and juice are nature’s own fertiliser, you can use them virtually anywhere in your garden and on any plants. Exceptions to that rule are any plants needing very acidic or alkaline soil, as worm castings and juice neutralise soil pH.
Dos and don’ts of worm farm care
- Feed worms anything that was once living. Small amounts of acidic, fatty and salty food and cooked or raw garlic is fine, if served with other food waste. The secret is everything in moderation.
- Feed worms small amounts often.
- Break up the food. The smaller the pieces, the quicker it’ll break down to the right bacteria level for worms to enjoy. At the very least, chop the food into 10 to 15mm square pieces.
- Wait until most of the previous feed has been eaten before feeding your worms again. Placing more food on top of uneaten food will cause anaerobic conditions (lack of oxygen) and souring (a smelly worm farm).
- Feed worms the contents of your compost heap, if you have one. Worm farms and compost are a perfect match, as worms love well-rotted food.
- Leave the worm farm tap open so the worms can escape if conditions are unfavourable. Don’t worry, worms will not leave a cosy home.
- Keep your worm farm moist. The more water you add, the more worm juice you'll get. But take care not to over water. Worms breathe through their skin so over watering will make the worms think they're drowning.
- Feed worms 100% food. Add garden waste such as lawn clippings or dead leaves, but never more than the amount of food waste.
- Place waste over the entire surface area of your worm farm as this may suffocate the worms or overheat the bedding. Feed in sections.
- Leave your worms without enough food or they'll escape or die. Given enough food, worms can be left to their own devices for a few months.
How to use worm castings and juice in your garden
- For a super-charged compost, blend one part castings to 10 parts good-quality compost or potting mix, then mix thoroughly and use as normal.
- Dilute worm juice with water in a watering can at a ratio of between 50:1 and 100:1. For example, for every litre of water, add between 10ml and 20ml of worm juice. You can apply this mixture to foliage or soil. Applying the mix directly to foliage simply speeds up the application.
How long before I can enjoy worm castings and juice?
As long as you've given your worms the right care, you can expect worm juice in your first week and worm castings in the first few months.
How often can I apply worm castings and juice to my garden?
If your plants or soil need nutrients desperately, apply every week for the first month. If you already have good-performing plants and soil and you just want to enhance their long-term health and vigour, once a month is fine.
I don’t have space for a worm farm, but I want to enjoy the benefits of worm juice and castings.
No room for a worm farm? No worries! You can pick up BIG BIO’s 100% organic and non-toxic range of worm castings and worm juice at your local Flower Power.